Solid arms do more than look good. They can help you to get stronger on other exercises for the back and chest. Having strong arms also help prevent injuries.

Nowadays, the fitness trend is to work several muscles at the same time. However, a workout dedicated to just arms and shoulders has its place. While arm muscles are small when compared to the back, chest or legs, they still need some full attention to truly get great arms.

A study from the National Strength and Conditioning Association states that when performing exercises for the back in the beginning of the workout, it affects arm-only exercises (such as curls) negatively as far as the number of reps you able to be performed.

Also, a good reason to build stronger arms in an isolated way is to help prevent injuries and help increase your power on bigger lifts. Triceps presses can definitely help on the bench press.

Small Muscles, Big Caloric Burn

Just because it’s a smaller muscle group, it doesn’t necessarily mean you lose out on caloric burn. This depends on the technique that you use. One good technique to encourage caloric expenditure is to do a pre-exhaustion super set, which means to work the target muscle to a maximum using a multi-joint exercise such as a push-up and then doing an exercise that isolates the muscle such as a triceps extension. This style of exercise exhausts the muscles while burning a good amount of calories.


Beginners Do one set of 15 reps of each super set until you can progress accordingly. Rest as much as you need after each super set.

Intermediate/ advanced Do the sets and reps pointed out below and rest no more than 45 seconds after each super set.

Warm up around 10 minutes. Try to find a cardio machine that uses the arms. Stretch at the end each muscle for 30 seconds and repeat it at least 2 times. Watch your form when doing moves for the biceps. Don’t lift your arms bringing your elbows forward. This will put unnecessary pressure on the shoulder.

Always involve the core. To fully isolate the small muscles of the arms you need to set up your body in a stable position and that happens when you get your core tight.

Superset 1: Pull-ups (not shown) to dumbbell bicep curl to 90 degree dumbbell curl sitting. Start with pull-ups using an overhand grip on the pull-up bar. Squeeze your lats pulling your chest to the bar. In the standing curl, have your palms facing up and use the biceps (no swinging) and keep your elbows tight to your sides to pre-exhaust the arm muscles. In the seated curl you want to start at about 90 degrees (the sticking point of a curl) and squeeze the dumbbell up to finish, again maintaining strict form with your elbows in. Use a lighter weight if you cannot maintain perfect form.

Superset 2: Incline Push-ups to overhead tricep extension to to dumbbell kick back. Use a bench, keeping your body straight, do push-ups with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. For the triceps extension, stand tall and grip the dumbbell with your hands in a diamond position. Bring the weight straight up over your head, keeping the elbows in. In the triceps kickback get into a bent-over row position and use the triceps to push the weights towards your backside. Maintain strict form on this move locking in your base back and arm position.

Superset 3: Bench dips to overhead pulley tricep extension. Using a bench position your hands comfortably behind you on the bench. Lower your whole body, isolating the triceps, and push straight back up. For the standing pulley tricep extension, you can grab the pulley rope or small rotating straight bar (pictured) as if you were doing a regular tricep extension facing the machine. Simply rotate away from the machine to face away from it. As you turn, bring the rope or bar up over your head and once you face out, you will be in perfect position. (It’s easier than it sounds.) Lock your base position in with a split stance (for a strong foundation) and isolate the triceps.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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