Want strong, firm arms like Michelle Obama? Our experts recommend working the biceps with your anterior and posterior deltoids (shoulders).

Medicine ball wall throws - Women's Health & Fitness

What NOT to do

Good news, gym goers: you can forget mastering the bench press for this.

“Laying down on your back supported by a bench is a really lazy way to train; it doesn’t even allow you to use postural muscles,” exercise physiologist Gabrielle Maston says.

“It’s not a functional exercise either. It doesn’t translate well into any sports function and can cause rotator cuff (shoulder joint) injuries if the loads lifted are too big and/or performed with the wrong technique.”

Nature's Own Kate Save says bicep curls are also overhyped for improving muscle definition in this area.

“This isolation exercise only targets a very small area of the arm and also burns very little calories. Therefore, it is a waste of valuable fat-burning time that could produce real results when it comes to toned arms,” she says. In short, why spend time in the weights section alone when you can incorporate cardio and activate other crucial muscles for an all-encompassing workout?

What the experts recommend

Chin-ups (pictured): 
Get ready for a full upper-body workout. “The most underused part of our body is our back. To get a lovely waist and shapely back, while simultaneously toning the arms, chin-ups are your best friend,” Maston says.

Chin-ups are a functional exercise that help form a foundation for many back-dominant sports including swimming, rowing, gymnastics and rock climbing. “Due to the amount of muscle mass used when you do chin-ups, you will also get a great cardio workout,” Maston says.

Medicine ball wall throws:
“This exercise provides a cardio workout while also improving arm strength on the concentric and eccentric muscle phases for maximum toning result,” Save says. Start by holding a 3–5kg medicine ball close to your chest and be at least one foot from the wall. Next, throw the medicine ball up above head height and catch while performing mini squats with your lower body. Repeat as many times as possible in 30 seconds, then build up to 60 seconds. You’ll feel it in your triceps, pecs and deltoids.

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Photo credit: Jamie Watling Photography