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Amplify Your Arms

Tricky triceps, meet your match: This simple 20-minute routine for amazing arms.

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If you want results, you can’t shy away from the heavier end of the weight rack. Not only will amping up the resistance push your muscles, but you’ll also save a lot of time. And when it comes to seeing visible change in your upper arms, variety is also of the utmost importance. Trying a new-to-you routine, like this one, will certainly do the trick.

Looking for even faster results? Try adding fat-burning intervals between your supersets. After the overhead dumbbell extensions, drop to the floor and do 10 burpees; after you’ve completed your cross-body triceps extensions, she prescribes 50 mountain climbers — that’s on each leg, folks!

Get Started

You’ll need a bench, two medium-weight dumbbells (for your one-armed moves), one heavier dumbbell (for your bilateral moves – start with 20 pounds and go from there), and a medicine ball.

Do exercises with the same number as a superset, then rest before repeating. Following the rest period after your last set of lying cross-body triceps extensions, do as many push-ups as you can. Do this workout twice per week, leaving at least 48 hours between sessions.

Exercise Number of Supersets Reps Per Superset Rest Between Supersets
Standing Alternating Triceps Kickback 2 12-15 (each arm) 60 seconds
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension 2 12 60 seconds
Dumbbell Skullcrusher 2 12 60 seconds
Lying Cross-Body Triceps Extension 2 12-15 (each arm) 60 seconds
Medicine-Ball Triceps Push-Up 1 To fatigue N/A

Standing Alternating Triceps Kickback

Set Up: Stand and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in, and lean forward until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor. Raise your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the ground (your elbows should be bent to about 90 degrees).

Action: Extend one arm from the elbow to move the weight behind you; pause, then slowly return to the start. Repeat on your other arm and continue, alternating sides.


Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

Set Up: Sit on the end of a bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Grab a heavy dumbbell and hold it vertically over your head with both hands, keeping your upper arms beside your ears.

Action: Bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head; stop when your forearms are parallel to the ground (or lower, if your range of motion permits). Extend your arms to return to the start.

Tip: Watch that your lower back doesn’t overly round – if it’s difficult to avoid, try using a lighter weight.


Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Set Up: Lie on your back on a bench, with your feet planted firmly on the floor, or with your legs bent and feet on the bench (whatever is more comfortable). Hold a heavy dumbbell horizontally with both hands as shown, and extend your arms straight above your chest.

Action: Keeping your upper arms still, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell. Hold it an inch or two above your forehead, then extend your arms to return to the start.


Lying Cross-Body Triceps Extension

Set Up: Lie face up on a bench with your feet on the ground (or on the bench, as described in the dumbbell skullcrusher above). With a dumbbell in one hand, extend your arm above you, palm facing forward, with your wrist stacked over your shoulder. (Try resting your non-working arm on your hip, or use it to help hold your working arm steady.)

Action: Bend your elbow to move the weight toward your opposite shoulder (e.g. if working your right arm, move it across your body towards the left). Return to the start. When your set is through, switch sides and repeat.

Tip: Slow, steady reps will better fatigue the muscle.


Medicine-Ball Triceps Push-Up

Set Up: Get into a push-up position on the floor, with your feet together and your hands on a medicine ball.

Action: Keep your back straight as you bend your arms to lower your chest towards the ball – your elbows should be tucked close to the sides of your body, not flaring out to the sides. Pause for one count at the bottom, then press through your palms to extend your arms to return to the start.

Tip: Using a ball with a smaller circumference will be more challenging.

The Cardio Caveat

The truth is that you can’t just kickback your way to more defined triceps. Just as a million crunches won’t get you a six-pack, a program like this, without a clean diet and cardio schedule to accompany it, won’t impact your body in the ways you are looking for.

So here’s what you need to do: one or two days a week, hop on a cardio machine and sweat it out for a solid 20 to 30 minutes. Research has shown that the most dramatic results occur when you employ bursts of effort, so in an additional one to two sessions per week, alternate 30 seconds at a moderate pace with thirty to sixty seconds of “oomph.”