What are the best exercises to get smaller arms?

First, to get smaller arms, you need to be in a calorie deficit because you obviously want to lose fat in that area. Now, when the fat is burning off, you also want to have that lean, toned look—and we can get you there! We have the best exercises for you, and you don’t have to look any further than your pantry. Grab a couple of soup cans (or dumbbells if you have them) to do these 3 exercises to boost up your arm muscles so you can pull out those tank tops again!

1. Standing Curls:

  • Stand with feet straight and shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Extend arms down by side of body.
  • Draw-in belly button and curl dumbbell toward shoulder.
  • Reverse movement to return to start position; repeat.

2. Standing Shoulder Press:

  • Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and placed shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold a dumbbell/soup can in each hand at shoulder level with your palms facing out. 
  • With your arms positioned slightly in front of your ears, draw in your navel and press your dumbbells overhead, fully extending both arms. 
  • Return the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.

3. Standing Overhead Triceps extensions:

  • Stand with feet straight and shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Grab a dumbbell/soup can in each hand, place hands behind your head, elbows by your ears, flexed at 90-degree angles.
  • Draw-in belly button and push hands toward floor, fully extending arms at side of body.
  • Hold; reverse movement to return to start position.
You can add these exercises into your day all together or separately. You can do them in a row or split them up and do them when you have just a few minutes. Try to do 2 or 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions, 2 times per week.

Getting smaller arms requires not only challenging the muscles of the arms, but the entire body with a variety of resistance training exercises while also monitoring calorie intake to ensure that a deficit (less calories in, more calories burned) has been created. By creating a caloric deficit, the body will be forced to use stored body fat for energy, including the fat from your arms. Once body fat levels drop significantly, the muscles in your arms should begin to show, giving you the look that you desire. Two great resistance exercises that will assist you with your goals and work the arm muscles while challenging the entire body, are the narrow grip push-up and the ball squat to curl- overhead press using 2 arms. Use the technique described below to add these exercises to your resistance training program.

To perform the narrow grip push-up, position yourself with your toes and hands on the floor, legs fully extended, back flat, hands at chest level, and slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Draw-in your belly button to tighten the abs, and while squeezing the butt muscles, lower your body to the floor being careful not to arch your back or jut your head forward or backward. Pause briefly and then push back up to the starting position. If it is too difficult to perform on the hands and toes, you can modify the narrow grip push-up by moving to the hands and knees or by moving the hands to an elevated surface such as a bench, table, or the wall.

To perform the ball squat to curl- overhead press, hold a dumbbell in each hand, letting them hang down at your sides while keeping your palms facing-in toward your body. Place a stability ball behind your upper back, secured against a wall or stable machine, making sure to position your feet straight ahead and shoulder-width apart. Start by performing a three-quarter squat as if you are sitting down into a chair, stand back upright pushing through your heels, and then curl the dumbbells to your chest. Next, press the dumbbells overhead, fully extending both of your arms while keeping your palms turned away from your body. Bring the arms back down to the starting position and repeat. For both exercises perform 1 to 3 sets of 12-20 repetitions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.