Dumbbell weight should be manageable but challenging.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
When women -- and men -- complain about flabby arms, they're usually talking about lack of muscle tone on the back of the upper arm. This is the location of the triceps muscle which, along with the biceps in the front of the arm, are your two major arm muscles. There are some relatively simple exercises that, if performed on a regular basis, can help strengthen and tone both of these muscles. Exercise alone may not be enough, though, and maintaining a healthy weight is also important to get rid of that unsightly flab.
To get a good upper arm workout, a pair of dumbbells is a worthwhile investment. Weight training is a good way to build strength and owning a set of dumbbells gives you the option of working out at home rather than trekking to the gym. There are no hard and fast rules on the best weight for a dumbbell, and your current level of strength and fitness will factor into your choice. According to MayoClinic.com you should choose the weight that will make you really work to complete between 12 and 15 repetitions of an exercise. Over time, you will probably end up with several pairs of dumbbells as your strength increases.
Dumbbell curls can be performed from either a standing or sitting position. With a weight in each hand and your arms at your sides, turn your palm forward and bend your elbow pulling the weight toward your shoulder, then slowly lower your arm. Curl one arm at a time, alternating between right and left until you have done 12 to 15 repetitions on each side. Many fitness experts advise doing multiple sets of these exercises but research has demonstrated that one set of repetitions provides the same benefit as multiple sets, according to MayoClinic.com.
To do triceps extensions, you can be in either a standing or sitting position. First, raise one arm straight above your head with a dumbbell in your hand. Bend your elbow so that the weight is behind your neck, then straighten your arm to the starting position. You can do this holding a dumbbell in one hand or holding it with both hands. Triceps extensions can also be done lying down, using a similar technique. While lying on the floor or bench, raise the dumbbell toward the ceiling with your arm straight, then bend your elbow until the weight is next to your ear. When performing this exercise lying on the floor, make sure to bend your knees to avoid stress on your lower back. Repeat the exercise until you have done 12 to 15 extensions per arm.
Like extensions, dumbbell presses can be done several ways. From a sitting or standing position, hold the weights at your shoulders with your elbows pointing out and your palms facing forward. Slowly press your arms straight up and then lower them to complete one press. You can also lie on your back or on a workout bench. Starting with your arms bent and the dumbbells held just above your chest, press the dumbbells straight up toward the ceiling with your palms facing out, until your arms are completely straight, and then lower back down. Your goal should be to complete 12 to 15 presses.
Kickback--But Don't Relax
To begin a triceps kickback, stand up straight with a dumbbell in your left hand. Step forward with your right leg, bend the knee and lean forward, resting your right hand or forearm on your right thigh. With a dumbbell in your left hand, bend your elbow to a 45-degree angle, then straighten your arm so that the dumbbell is pointed behind you. The proper form for a kickback is to move only your lower arm, keeping your upper arm stationary and held close to your side. Do 12 to 15 kickbacks on your right side, then repeat on your left side.
Drop a Few Pounds
Working out with weights isn't the only way to firm up those flabby arms. In fact, cardio exercises are the best way to lose flab all over, including in your arms. Activities like swimming, rowing -- either a machine or an actual boat -- and tennis all get your heart rate up while giving your arms a good workout. For an aerobic exercise that will work your arms as well, try jumping rope. Exercise bands are also a good way to use resistance to build up your arm muscles without hand weights or pushups.