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The 6 Most Effective Arm Exercises To Build Strength & Mass


Most exercises end up working out your arms one way or another. Arm exercises cover numerous muscles that provide strength, function and mass. Strong arms is a vague description when talking about muscles.

When we talk about arms collectively, we are talking about shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms and even grip strength. There are numerous compound arm exercises that work more than just one muscle.

These compound exercises are the best way to build strength and mass quickly over time. Like doing a push-up works your deltoids, biceps, triceps, and chest.  


After combing through a bunch of arm exercises that are a part of normal workout routines, these 6 exercises are the most effective.

Effective in the terms that they work your main muscles in the arms responsible for strength, mass and tone.

This can be used as a complete workout circuit by itself to work out all major muscle groups in the arm.

This a mixed regime that has 3 bodyweight movements and 3 exercises that require equipment.

Jump To: 

6 Arm Exercises For Strength 

How To Do Bodyweight Arm Exercises
– Diamond Push-ups
– Bodyweight Dips
– Chin-ups 

How to Do Arm Exercises With Equipment
– Dumbbell Bicep Exercise 
– Barbell Overhead Press
– Dumbbell Triceps Extension 

6 Arm Exercises For Strength


The first part of this circuit involves just using your bodyweight. For pull-ups and dips, you’ll need a pull-up bar and an elevated platform for dips.

The bodyweight movements consist of push-ups, dips and pull-ups. These three movements are the most powerful and effective bodyweight moves for strong arms.

With just these three movements, you are working your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. These are the main muscles responsible for lifting, pushing and pulling in your arms.

Finally, the movements with equipment further target these major muscle groups.

See, each movement has different variations. You’ll see a lot of workout routines that have 10 to 12 exercises but they are just different variations of the same movement.

Stick to a workout routine that has 6 to 8 exercises so you don’t overwork your muscles. If you have proper form with the right amount of sets and reps, then quality will help you reach your goals not quantity.

Read more: 
A Forearm Workout For Bigger Arms
The Ultimate Triceps Workout At Home
The Best Mass Building Biceps Home Workout

How to Bodyweight Arm Exercises

1. Diamond Pushup

There are so many push-up variations, it gets confusing to know which one to do. Each variation helps to target the same muscle groups but at different angles and intensity.

“The more unstable the push-up, the harder it is to perform, and the more you have to draw on increased strength” says Larysa DiDio, the creator of Tone Up in 15 and personal trainer.

Push-ups is a great bodyweight movement with numerous variations to help build strength in your upper body and arms.

 This circuit uses diamond push-ups as the first arm exercise. The diamond push-up is a more difficult variation of the push-up. This requires significantly more strength and intensity.

The diamond push-up works your triceps, deltoids and pecs.

How to do a diamond push-up:

  • Start in a normal, high plank, push-up position with a shoulder-wide stance for your hands
  • Now, make the diamond shape by joining your thumbs and index fingers
  • Your hands should be positioned beneath your upper chest
  • Next, lower yourself down by bending your elbows
  • Lower yourself down until you are a few inches off the ground
  • If this variation is too difficult to do, place your knees on the floor
Source: Katie Thompson

2. Bodyweight Dips

Dips are a key arm exercise that help in developing upper-body strength and pushing power. Again, this is another movement that has a lot of variations.

 Once you master the parallel dip, you can do other more intense variations. This is how calisthenics works. While they have limited movements without any equipment or weight, the variations help add variety to workouts.

 When doing dips, your feet are no longer in play. This increases the weigh-to-limb ration, hence, your arms need to work harder to lift as now there is no support from your lower body.  

 This is one of the reasons that dips are OP. See, dips aren’t just great for arms, they are effective for your entire upper body.

How to do bodyweight dips:

  • First, you need an elevated structure, a chair or, parallel bars at the gym or park
  • If using a chair, stool or elevated structure, then stand behind it and place your hands on the structure
  • Now, bend your elbows and shoulders to lower yourself down
  • Keep your elbows aligned and make sure they don’t come out to the sides
  • Next, make sure your chest stays stable
  • Lower yourself down half way and then back up for 1 set
Source: Katie Thompson

3. Chin-ups

This is another classical arm exercise. Just like push-ups, chin-ups are a staple body movement. They help with building upper body strength and muscle.

Chin-ups work using shoulder extension to work your biceps and lats. Chin-ups are preferred over pull-ups for arm exercises for two reasons.

One, chip-ups put the biceps in a stronger line of pull. Second, they are easier to do than pull-ups. You can also customize your grip width. The narrower the grip width is, the more pressure on your biceps.

How to do chin-ups:

  • Grab the bar with a shoulder width grip or a narrow grip depending on how intense you want the movement to be
  • Use an underhand grip with your hands facing away from you
  • Next, hang freely from the bar
  • Now, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar
  • Hold for a moment before lowering yourself down
Source: Men’s Health

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How to Do Arm Exercises With Equipment

4. Dumbbell Bicep curl

Bicep curls are an easy arm exercise that is bound to build mass and strength in your upper arms. 

You can do biceps with dumbbells or barbells. This list of arm exercises use dumbbell curls because you can work on each bicep individually.

How to do dumbbell bicep curls:

  • First, stand hip-width apart and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs
  • Now, bend your elbows and flex your biceps by bringing the dumbbell up
  • Make sure your elbows don’t collide with your sides and that your arms and elbows stay straight
  • Pause for a moment before slowly letting your arms down
Source: Verwell & Ben Goldstein

5. Barbell Overhead press

The overhead press mainly works your shoulders and arms. Your deltoids, triceps and forearms are the main muscles that work in overhead presses.

 These arm exercises work your shoulders, biceps and triceps. To grow strength and muscle mass in your shoulders, nothing works better than the overhead press.

How to do overhead press:

  • Hold the bar with a narrow grip and place it on your front shoulders
  • Now, lift vertically up
  • Make sure the movement of the bar is straight up and not in front or behind your head
  • Finally, push the bar straight up and hold it for a moment before bringing it back down
Source: Men’s Health

6. Dumbbell Triceps Extension

The last arm exercise we have for you works on your triceps. Growing your triceps helps add mass to your arms. An isolated triceps exercise is necessary when looking to build power and size.

The triceps extension can be done sitting, standing or lying down. You can also use different kinds of equipment like dumbbells, barbells, or an EZ-bar.

 Again, we like going with the dumbbell version because it focuses on triceps individually.

How to do standing dumbbell triceps extension:

  • Stand your feet shoulder width apart
  • Start by holding the dumbbells in front of you
  • Next, lower the weight behind your head and bend your elbow
  • Now, your forearm should be parallel to the ground
  • Lift your forearm straight up
  • Make sure your arm stays straight throughout this movement
  • Support for moving your forearm up and down should come from your triceps
Source: Men’s Health

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