First, let’s clear up a popular misconception. Your muscles and your skeleton are structurally very similar to a man’s, so the same kinds of exercises your boyfriend uses to work his arms will work for you as well. By the same token, they won’t give you arms like his. Women don’t have the same levels of testosterone that men do, so building mountains of muscle just isn’t a big risk.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise
When a woman sees another lady with great arms, what she notices first are her shoulders. Having round, smooth caps on top of your toned arms gives the entire arm a more complete look. Plus, shoulder work contributes greatly to overall upper-body strength.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Bring the dumbbells to collarbone height, with your elbows in front of your body, palms facing forward.
Step 2: Engage your core and use your shoulders to press the weight over your head. At the top, ensure you’re completely locked out by bringing your head through so your ears are next to your elbows.
Step 3: Slowly bring the weights back down to collarbone level. As you bring the weights down, don’t relax. Keep everything engaged through the entire set.
Technique Tips: You may feel yourself arching your back to get the weights up. Refrain from doing this. Squeeze your butt as you press and think about keeping your ribs pulled down and core tight. Don’t allow the dumbbells to float away from your body at the top of the movement. Keep them on top of your shoulders.
Face Pull Exercise
Many people fail to train all the parts of the shoulders evenly, and that can lead to imbalances that cause injury. The deltoid muscle has three heads—front, middle, and rear—and most shoulder exercises hit the front and middle while the rear delt (on the back of the shoulder) gets neglected.
The face pull focuses on the rear delts and upper back, improving posture so that your shoulders, arms, and chest all look more prominent.
Step 1: Set the pulley on a cable machine to eye level or above. You can use a rope attachment or two single-grip handles. If you don’t have a cable station, attach a band to a sturdy object instead.
Step 2: Hold the handles in each hand with your thumbs facing each other. Step away from the machine so your arms are extended and take a staggered stance. This is where you’ll start.
Step 3: Pull the handles toward your face. They should finish at your forehead or jaw. Hold the end position (your upper back fully contracted) for a second and then return to the starting position.
Technique tips: Try not to move any part of your body other than your shoulders and elbows. Choose a weight that’s challenging but allows you to perform smooth reps.
I also like programming pushups for women because they are so easily scalable. If they’re difficult for you, you can put your hands on a bench or a chair so your upper body is on an incline. That will reduce the amount of bodyweight you have to lift. If you want to make pushups more difficult, elevate your feet on a chair or bench.
Step 1: Lie on the floor on your stomach. Place your hands under your body, about shoulder-width apart. Flex your feet so your toes are on the ground and your heels are in the air.
Step 2: Tuck your tailbone under so your pelvis is perpendicular to the ground. Brace your core, squeeze your legs, and press your upper body off the floor until your elbows are completely extended. Keep your arms in close to your sides. Slowly lower until your chest is just above the floor to begin the next rep.
Technique tips: Don’t allow your lower back to sag toward the floor. Keep your abs braced like you’re about to take a punch to the gut, and squeeze your glutes.
Overhead Cable Triceps Extension
Your triceps have three heads (hence the “tri” in the name). This movement is great for training the long head, which runs down the innermost side of your arm and provides most of the muscle’s strength. Using a cable helps keep tension on the muscle throughout the range of motion, so even when your arms are locked out, the triceps are still working.
Step 1: Attach a rope handle (or two single-grip handles) to the top pulley of a cable station. Grasp it with both hands and face away from the station, reaching your arms overhead with elbows bent. You should feel a slight stretch in the muscles. Stagger your stance for balance.
Step 2: Extend your elbows to lockout, and control their return to the starting position.
Technique tips: Don’t let your lower back arch as you do this movement, and try not to move anything other than your elbow joint!
Hammer Curl Exercise
Hammer curls hit the brachioradialis, the main forearm muscle. This area tends to be underworked because people like to favor the biceps, and stronger forearm muscles help to stabilize the elbow joint, reducing the risk of injury—especially if you do activities outside the gym like golf or tennis.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and make a slight bend in your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, your palms facing each other.
Step 2: Keeping that same neutral grip (palms facing in), bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells up as you would a hammer. You should feel your biceps flex as you do this. When the top of the dumbbell gets to about shoulder-level, lower it back down to the starting position. You can lift with both arms at the same time, or alternate arms.
Technique tips: It can be really easy to throw your hips, lower back, and even your shoulders into this exercise in order to move the dumbbell. Engage your core and squeeze your butt to keep everything but your arms still.
Barbell Curl Exercise
Barbell curls are a solid, basic movement that works the biceps completely. Just remember to keep your elbows from coming up and away from your body. To ensure that the biceps do the work and not the front deltoids, keep your elbows at your sides.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and make a slight bend in your knees. Hold the barbell with your palms facing up, hands shoulder width.
Step 2: Engage your core, squeeze your butt, and bend your elbows to bring the barbell up to shoulder level. Squeeze your biceps at the top, and lower back down.
Technique tips: As you get tired, you may feel like swinging the weight up. Keep good form. End the set before your technique breaks down.
The source: www.onnit.com