Try these upper arm exercise tips for stronger, firmer arms. These exercises will have you flaunting your toned arms in swimsuits, sleeveless shirts and dresses.

Arms: Most of the year we safely keep them under cover, in our long-sleeved shirts, jackets and sweaters. Come summertime, though, who doesn't want a pair of arms and shoulders she can feel comfortable showing off, whether it's in tanks, swimsuits or a sexy, halter-style top?

The great news about arms that may have been hibernating for months is that you can get them toned and ready for the season pretty quickly, with Shape's two-part fitness tips:

  1. arm strength exercise that increases strength and toning by building muscle, and
  2. fat-blasting, calorie-burning cardio workout routines to reduce the layer of fat surrounding the muscles, so you can see their shape.

Alternate arm toning exercises with cardio for optimum workout routines.

To help you accomplish your upper arm exercise goals, we've enlisted one of the all-time fitness greats, step-aerobics creator Gin Miller. Her heart-pumping, arm-sculpting circuit workout routines alternate step aerobics with upper-body and arm strength exercise, and you can do this workout at home.

"It's an all-in-one workout - cardio and strength," says Miller. "For those days when you say, 'I don't have time to exercise,' this is your workout." All you need to do is one circuit of this workout: 15 minutes. Do additional circuits regularly if your goal is to achieve a higher level of fitness or to reduce body fat significantly.

You'll notice that the arm toning exercises are not the same old gym moves; rather than target each muscle group separately, you'll work several muscle groups at once. "I prefer to train the human body the way it actually moves," Miller says. "You develop strength and flexibility, and you prepare your body for the little emergencies that come up now and again."

On the fat-reducing front, keep in mind that you need to burn more calories than you consume. So in addition to combining this upper arm exercise with other workout routines, you may need to reassess your eating habits.

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Go Sleeveless! Combining Workout Routines

Combine upper arm exercise with step workout routines for maximum effect – and firm and toned arms.

Follow Gin Miller's workouts for arm toning and you're bound to feel confident in all your summer clothes. "You'll have long, lean, strong muscles that will be firm, resilient and pliable," Miller says. Best of all, to get these arm toning results, you don't have to devote hours and hours of these glorious summer days.

The plan

The following circuit workout takes about 15 minutes to complete 1 time through. You'll alternate 1 set of arm strength exercise (8-15 repetitions, which take 30 seconds to 1 minute) with 2 minutes of stepping. You can do any or all of the step moves described in "Cardio Blast."

To begin

Twice a week do 1-3 arm exercise circuits, depending upon your time and fitness level. Take at least 2 days off between circuit workouts. If you've been exercising for 3 months or less, start with 1 circuit. Progress to 2 once you're comfortable with the arm strength exercises as well as basic stepping. If you're a regular exerciser, do at least 2 circuits each session. If you're short on time, do 1 circuit and choose some of the more-intense stepping moves from our list, such as Runs or Over the Top.

Warm-up and cool-down

Begin and end your workout routines with a basic stepping pattern for at least 5 minutes: Step onto the platform with your right foot, then your left. Step down with your right foot, then left. Every 30 seconds, change your lead leg. Finish your workout by stretching your major muscle groups, including your thighs, buttocks, calves, back, shoulders and arms. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds without bouncing.


Use 3- to 5-pound dumbbells in each hand for the upper arm exercise moves that involve weights.

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Go Sleeveless! Cardio & Upper Arm Exercise

How can I reap the maximum benefits of combining cardio workout routines with my arm strength exercise and arm toning routines?

Here are several fitness tips you can follow, which combine cardio with your upper arm exercise routines to rev up your heart rate while sculpting your arms.

Cardio Blast Fitness Tips

If you've ever taken a step class, some or all of these workout routines may be familiar to you. (If not, the repetition and rhythm of these moves makes them easy to follow.) Here are the moves you'll do for 2 minutes between each set - focus on one or mix them up.

  1. Alternating knee lifts with repeater
    Step onto right corner of the step with right foot, lifting left knee. Step down with left foot and repeat to left corner. Come back to right corner and do 3 consecutive knee lifts (known as a repeater). Return to single knee lifts and do repeater at other corner. Continue to alternate.
  2. V-step with 3 power jacks
    Step wide and onto front of platform with right foot, then wide and up onto platform with left foot. Step down to floor with left foot, then bring right foot down to meet left. Do 3 jumping jacks on the floor. Repeat.
  3. Alternating rear lunges
    Stand on top of step in center of platform. Lunge backward with right foot, touching ball of foot to the floor. Then alternate lunge with left foot. Continue to alternate.
  4. Runs
    Instead of stepping, run onto top of step with right foot, then left. Then step down with left foot followed by right.
  5. Turn step
    Step onto front of platform with left foot at left corner, right foot at right corner. Step down with left foot, turning sideways to step. Then tap right foot to the floor. Repeat turn step, alternating turn. To increase intensity, hop on top of step and jump on the floor insead of tapping.
  6. Over the top
    Standing with your right side to the platform, step up with right foot; bring left foot up and jump onto step with left foot, lifting right knee. Step down on other side with right foot, then left. Repeat, coming back over the top of the step.

By combining the arm strength exercise routines with these step cardio workout routines, you'll be showing off marvelous sculpted arms all year!