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Beginner Exercises to Strengthen and Tone Your Arms

How to Tone Your Arms

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Truth be told, there's really no such thing as "toning up". Rather, when you ask how to tone your arms, what you're really asking is how to improve muscle definition. While the answer is multi-faceted—it includes a closer at your macronutrient intake and the type of strength training you're doing—you can achieve the look your after with some simple, yet strategic planning. While lifting heavy weights is one surefire way to build lean muscle, don't forget the power of bodyweight exercises and the burn that comes with those micro movements (hi, time under tension!) using lighter weights, as shown in this arms workout created by celeb trainer Tracy Anderson. (After you've crushed your biceps, triceps, and shoulders, take aim at your posterior with this targetted back workout.)

What you'll need: a pair of 3-pound dumbbells
How it works: Perform each of the following exercises for the reps allotted. 

Photo: Ian Spanier/Getty Images

Arm Circles

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Targets: shoulders, back, triceps, biceps

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight out to sides at shoulder height.
B. Keeping shoulders down, do 20 small backward circles.
C. Switch directions; do 20 forward circles.

Related: Affordable Home Gym Equipment to Add to Your Arsenal

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Shoulder Press

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Targets: shoulders, triceps

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
B. Bend elbows, bringing hands to shoulders, palms facing forward.
C. Press weights straight overhead, keeping shoulders down; lower weights back to shoulders.

Do 20 reps.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Triceps Push-Back

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Targets: triceps

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms straight down at sides, palms facing back.
B. Lift arms straight back about 2 feet behind you; return to sides.

Do 20 reps.

(Have more time? Try: The 9 Best Triceps Exercises You Should Be Doing Right Now)

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Half-Moon Rotation

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Targets: shoulders, biceps, triceps

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms straight out to sides at shoulder height, fingers together and palms down.
  • Rotate thumbs back until palms face up.
  • Rotate thumbs forward.

Do 30 reps, keeping arms lifted.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

High V

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Targets: shoulders, triceps

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended overhead in a V, palms facing out to sides.
  • Slowly bend elbows to hips, palms facing body.
  • Press back up into V.

Do 20 reps.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Lateral Triceps Lift

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Targets: triceps

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, right elbow bent, palm facing shoulder.
B. Straighten arm out to side at shoulder height, and rotate so palm faces back.
C. Lift up 2 inches. Return to start.

Do 20 reps; switch arms and repeat.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Back Touch

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Targets: back, shoulders, biceps

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms extended out to sides, a dumbbell in each hand.
B. Bring arms about 1 foot behind you (diagonal to shoulders).
C. Bend left elbow and touch back with dumbbell; return.

Do 30 reps, alternating sides.

Related: Top 6 Moves to Blast Bra Bulge

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Overhead Bend

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Targets: shoulders, triceps, core

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
B. Bend right elbow to hip and hinge over to left from waist.
C. Extend right arm overhead and to left, keeping shoulder down.
D. Lower elbow to hip.

Do 25 reps; switch sides and repeat.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

Straight-Arm Shrug

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Targets: shoulders, biceps, triceps

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms extended straight out to sides at shoulder height, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
B. Keep arms straight as you lift and lower right shoulder to ear.
C. Switch sides; repeat.

Do 30 reps, alternating sides, keeping arms lifted entire time.

Photo: Jay Sullivan

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