Arm Exercises

Definition

Exercises for the arms are designed to maintain, and in some circumstances increase, strength within the arms and upper body, along with helping to tone and shape the arms. Women often use arm exercises to maintain tone and avoid excess fat accumulation. Men frequently use arm exercises to accentuate the muscles within the arms. In both cases, arm exercises are beneficial for the health and fitness of the body.

To exercise the arms, resistance is needed in some form, including using weights, machines, or even everyday objects such as a beverage container or a water pail. A basic exercise for the arms would be to lift repeatedly an object of mass from a lower to higher height and then back to the original height. In some instances, people use the weight of the body to provide exercises for the arms. The common push-up is an example of using body weight to exercise the arm muscles.

Purpose

Arm exercises can be used to add muscle strength and mass to the arms. Some women have concern about excess body fat in the triceps area of the arm (sometimes called “bat-wing” skin). Arm exercises can tone and improve the appearance of this area. Men typically like to have strong-looking muscles. Exercises involving the arm accomplish this goal.

Arm exercises are useful for performing everyday activities such as carrying groceries, lifting children, and driving a car. Maintaining muscle strength and mass in the arms is very important to the upper body. As an individual gets older, muscles can lose their mass and strength (called sarcopenia). However, the gradual degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that comes naturally with aging can be countered with exercises. Resistance training is a good way to reduce sarcopenia.




Common arm exercises. The gradual degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that comes naturally with aging can be countered with exercises.

Description

The muscles that affect the posterior arm are the:

There are many other muscles within the arm that work together to produce the fine controls used within the arm for such movements as picking up objects, writing, and typing. They are roughly divided into extensors, flexors, and rotators:

There are many different types of exercises that benefit the arms. Some of these include:

KEY TERMS
Adduct—
To pull toward the center of the body.
Anterior—
Near the front.
Medially—
With respect to the middle.
Posterior—
Near the back.
Radius—
Shorter bone in the forearm.
Sarcopenia—
The degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that occurs with age.
Scapula—
The shoulder blade.
Supinate—
To turn the palm upward.
Ulna—
Longer bone in the forearm.

Many other exercises are available for the arms. Each one is dedicated to exercising one or a few muscles of the arms. Proper form should be used to avoid injuries. In addition, do not over exert on such exercises. Pain should not be present while doing exercises.

Demographics

Approximately 0.6%–1.0% of muscle mass is lost each year in an individual after age 25. By the age of 50, an average person has lost about 10% of muscle mass, including muscle mass in the arms. Muscle mass is lost at a faster rate—about 2% per year after age 60. By 80 years of age, 40% of muscle mass can be lost to sarcopenia. Consequently, weight training and resistance training, to counter such muscle mass reductions, is not just needed for the elderly but throughout the lifespan.

Preparation

It is always recommended to seek professional help before starting any new exercise routine. Doctors will advise people as to whether they are physically fit and healthy enough to perform exercises such as those for the arms. Physical trainers should be consulted as to the correct type of individualized program for arm exercises. Many videos and instructional manuals are available to help in the learning process. Instructions provide the correct form and technique that individuals should use with arm exercises.

Risks

Risks from arm exercises can be minimized by first seeking advice from a medical professional. Make sure the body is ready for arm exercises by gradually building up an exercise routine. If the exercise feels comfortable for the arms, then it is appropriate for one's level. Never do too much and risk injuring the muscles in the arms.

To avoid injuries and minimize the chance of serious injuries:

Results

Regularly exercising the arms will keep these muscles toned and the joints within the arms limber and flexible. A regular and proper set of arm exercises, in combination with a whole-body resistance training routine and regular aerobic exercise, will also help to maintain a trim and fit figure.

Health benefits are obtained when performing a moderate amount of physical exercise daily, such as arm exercises. Numerous medical studies have been performed to scientifically show that regular exercise is beneficial for overall health and fitness.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR
  • Should I attempt arm exercises? If so, what type of arm exercises should I do?
  • What are some good arm exercises for me?
  • How often should I exercise my arms?
  • What arm exercises should I avoid?
  • Should I see an expert before trying exercises?
  • What types of lifestyle changes will help with my exercises?

Resources

BOOKS

Hall, John E. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology, 13th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier, 2015.

Katch, Victor L., William D. McArdle, and Frank I. Katch. Essentials of Exercise Physiology, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health, 2016.

Moorman III, Claude T., and Donald T. Kirkendall, eds. Praeger Handbook of Sports Medicine and Athlete Health. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011.

Plowman, Sharon A., and Denise L. Smith. Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness, and Performance, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

Stone, Robert J., and Judith A. Stone. Atlas of Skeletal Muscles, 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

WEBSITES

Bennick, Anne Marie, Darryl Bennick. “Fight Arm Flab in 10 Minutes.” Fitness (February 2010). http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/arms/express/fight-arm-flab-in-10-minutes (accessed January 25, 2017).

“Exercise.” Texas Heart Institute. (August 2016). http://www.texasheart.org/hic/topics/hsmart/exercis1.cfm (accessed January 18, 2017).

“How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 4, 2015. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm (accessed January 25, 2017).

“Muscles that Act on the Arm (Humerus).” GetBodySmart.com . https://www.getbodysmart.com/ap/muscularsystem/armmuscles/menu/menu.html (accessed January 25, 2017).

Murphy, Myatt. “Bigger Biceps in Minutes.” Men's Magazine (February 12, 2007). http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/arm-exercises-0 (accessed January 25, 2017).

Sarnataro, Barbara. “The Best Arm Exercises.” WebMD. April 24, 2008. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-best-arm-exercises#1 (accessed January 25, 2017).

Valeo, Tom. “Strength Training: Building Arm Muscles.” WebMD. http://men.webmd.com/features/strength-training-building-arm-muscles (accessed October 26, 2011).

Vorvick, Linda. “Physical Activity.” MedlinePlus. April 11, 2015. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001941.htm (accessed January 26, 2017).

ORGANIZATIONS

American College of Sports Medicine, 401 W Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202-3233, (317) 6379200, Fax: (317) 634-7817, http://www.acsm.org .

American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564, support@acefitness.org, http://www.fitness.gov .

National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, 7185 SE Seagate Lane, Washington, DC, 20036, (202) 454-7521, ayanna@ncppa.org, http://www.ncppa.org .

President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860, fitness@hhs.gov, http://www.presidentschallenge.org .

SHAPE America, 1900 Association Dr., Reston, VA, 20191-1598, (800) 213-7193, Fax: (703) 476-9527, http://www.shapeamerica.org .

William A. Atkins, BB, BS, MBA

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.