Arm workouts for women – how to strengthen your upper body

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Arm workouts for women are never as popular as leg and abs workouts, but workouts shouldn’t focus completely on the lower body. Although women don’t tend to store as much fat on the upper body, that doesn’t mean that it stays firm and toned without any effort.

Benefits of arm workouts for women

There are 3 main benefits of adding arm exercises to your workout:

#1 Add variety to cardio

Cardio workouts generally focus on the big leg muscles, because these are the ones that generate most energy and easily raise the heart rate. Adding large arm movements can add to the cardio training effect though. Mixing up arms and legs with exercises like the ones below gets the blood pumping to all the major muscles of the body.

#2 Improve upper body muscle tone

Women often neglect upper body training, either because they’re afraid of developing bulky arms or because they’re focused on working the lower body. But a poorly trained upper body isn’t a good look. Arm workouts:

  • Improve upper body posture
  • Tighten up problem areas like the backs of arms and below the shoulder blades
  • Strengthen the chest muscles which support the breasts

#3 Strengthen the Core

The core muscles stabilise the body. When the arms and legs move, this makes more work for the core muscles to do. The bigger the movements are, or the more they challenge balance, the harder the core muscles have to work.


Fitting arm exercises in

Legs and abdominal area are usually the “bits” women want to work on.  If time is limited, it’s natural to want to work on the areas you’re most concerned about.  But it doesn’t have to be a full-blown upper body workout.  A few arm exercises added into a cardio or body conditioning workout can make a difference, especially to posture and core strength.  Try doing these 3 exercises, which work other muscles as well as the upper body:

#1 Squats with butterfly arms

Butterfly instructions

#2 Arm reaches with toe taps

This one is good for raising the heart rate and challenging the core muscles, as well as working the arms.  It’s best done with a weight of some kind.  A 1 or 2kg medicine ball or kettle bell is ideal, or if you don’t have one of these, use a 1 or 2 litre bottle of water.

Arm workouts for women_toe tap and reach

Toe tap instructions

#3 Plank holds

Plank holds are best known as core exercises.  There’s more to the plank position than working the core though. The sequence below will work your shoulders and chest as well as your core.  If you’ve never done plank holds before, start by just doing the standard plank hold and only move onto the rotations when you are ready.  NB plank holds aren’t suitable for anyone with high blood pressure. For more information on the plank exercise, see this post.

Arm workouts for women_plank holds

Arm workouts for women plank routine instructions

Try to do these 3 exercises 2 or 3 times a week for all-over strength and toning benefits.  For general advice on exercise safety, please see here.

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Arm workouts for women | 3 ways to add in upper body strengthening exercises. Adding arm exercises to your workouts doesn't just strengthen and tone the upper body muscles. It improves posture, challenges the core muscles and can make cardio workouts more effective #armworkoutwomen


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