Effective Arm Exercises for the Tank Top Showdown

It’s officially tank top weather. And, you know what that means? The gun show is back! Add these quick arm exercises to your routine if you’re looking to boost your upper body cut and confidence.

Pull-Up – The pull-up is one of the best upper body exercises around. The focus is on muscles down the back of your body, so you’ll look great walking away! Try executing pull-ups with a wide grip to focus on the “tapering” effect (that V from shoulders to the waist). You can also perform a few reps with a narrow, reverse grip to pop the biceps. Remember, even if you can’t do them unassisted, every effort counts, and is worth it.

Push-Up – The push-up is the perfect complement to the pull-up and targets the entire front side of the upper body. Wide push-ups target the chest muscles, front of the shoulder, and a bit of the triceps as well. Try moving your hands directly under your shoulders and angling elbows in toward your sides to get the triceps to pop and the shoulders to striate. As a bonus, perform a diagonal push-up with one hand in the wide position and one in the narrow!

the perfect push up

Curl & Press Combo – The curl & press combo is a great two-for-one exercise that targets the biceps and shoulders. Grasping hand weights, begin with your arms down by your side and your palms facing your thigh. Bend the elbow to bring the hand weights up to your shoulders. Then, rotate the palms forward as you press up and overhead to execute the shoulder press.

Dips – Dips can be performed off of a bench or at a dip station (assisted or non-assisted). Dips are a great exercise to accentuate the back side of the upper arm and recruit a bit of shoulder at the same time. If performing off the edge of a bench, be sure to keep the hands narrow and the elbows pointed behind you and close to the body as you bend your elbows to lower your body down. Try to avoid rounding the shoulders as you descend. Feet can be in front of you on the floor or elevated on another bench.

 

You don’t need a ton of time to get your arms tank top ready if you use this pyramid circuit:

  • 1 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 2 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 3 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 4 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 5 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 6 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 5 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 4 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 3 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 2 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip
  • 1 x Pull up, Push Up, Curl & Press Combo, Dip

As you get stronger, minimize downtime between the exercises and sets. You can also add reps for bigger gains (i.e. go up to 7 reps and then back down from there). Looking for a quick “pump” before you head to the pool? Just do one side of the pyramid. Enjoy the sun!

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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.