I can’t shake the image of a Barbie & Ken factory. Whether you prefer titanic, sleeve-bursting arms or toned, defined, lean cannons, the following 30 exercises are powerful tools to help accessorize your body with whichever flavor of arms you’re shooting for.
Our database of top arm exercises is far from the typical curl-extension split, although those are sprinkled in, too. Killer, well-developed arms are the product of comprehensive growth across a wide range of muscle groups — specifically the biceps, triceps, upper back, and shoulders — and low body fat.
If your notion of arms is limited to bulging biceps and you’ve been sucked into a curl black hole, take a big step back. The biceps make up under 1/3 of the arm’s total mass, and are only a part-contributor to their overall aesthetic.
- The front and medial deltoids (two heads of the shoulder muscle) anchor your guns, adding horizontal width and definition to the top third of the arm. They form the V-shape that often pops out and cuts down through the center of the arm. The rear deltoid sits on the back of the shoulder at the top of the upper back and contributes width/definition from behind.
- The triceps, used for pushing motions, flanks vertically along the back & side of the arm, adding significant curvature, length, and overall muscle definition — it forms a “horseshoe” on the back-half of the arm when flexed.
- The biceps, used for pulling motions, complete the package with front-side size, height, and length — it creates a “peak” when flexed.
The shoulders, biceps, and triceps all contribute to the arm’s aesthetic.
All 3 sections are integral, and that’s non-negotiable. Choose your favorite exercises — including a few exercises for each muscle group — and cycle often to prevent plateaus and guarantee consistent growth. Perform sets of 10-12 reps per set (per arm when applicable).
You’ve got a full arsenal of tools at your disposal to drive robust growth forward — go launch an arms race.
The 30 Most Powerful Arm Exercises For Titanic, Toned Arms
Arms Exercise 1: One-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Primary Muscles: Back, Biceps
- Place your left knee and left hand firmly anchored on a flat bench. Your left hand should serve as support for your body.
- Maintain a tight core and flat back, contract your lats and biceps, and slowly row the dumbbell upwards until it’s above your torso.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell to a full extension so that your feel a stretch through your upper back. Repeat.
Arms Exercise 2: Barbell Biceps Curls
Primary Muscles: Biceps
- Hold a barbell with an underhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Bend your knees, pin your upper arms into your torso — don’t let them slide backward or forward — and contract your biceps, slowly raising the barbell up to chest height. Don’t swing the weight or use momentum — that means it’s too heavy.
- Squeeze the contraction for 1 second and lower to full extension. Repeat.
Arms Exercise 3: Lying Triceps Extensions (Skull Crushers)
Primary Muscles: Triceps
- Lie on a bench and hold a barbell straight above your chest with an overhand grip.
- Without shifting your upper arms forward or back, bend your elbows and slowly lower the barbell down towards your head. Stop when your forearms are below parallel, but safely above your forehead.
- Powerfully contract your triceps and raise the bar back to start. Squeeze your triceps at the top for 1 second and repeat.