Arm Exercises for Women:
Using Free Weights

Step-by-Step and Video Instructions Below

Arm exercises for women became even more popular a couple of years ago when Michelle Obama's incredible arms started to be noticed by everyone.

With some specific weight training exercises, nearly every woman can enjoy strong and toned muscles. But it takes work and the right approach.

Below are some great arm exercises for women using free weights to get you started losing arm fat, to get rid of the flab, and to strengthen and tone your arms.

Biceps and Triceps

The two main muscle groups of our arms are biceps and triceps. Biceps are the muscles in front of our upper arms. Triceps are the muscles in back of our upper arms (the part where most of the arm fat lives!). See page 2 of this article for more info on triceps and an exercise for flabby arms.

How to Build Biceps Muscle

Biceps Curls with a Barbell

This popular arm exercise should be part of your regular weight training workout. You can use heavier weights to do the barbell biceps curl since you are using both arms at the same time. But just as with any weight lifting exercises, it needs to be done properly to be effective and avoid injury.


  1. Stand with a straight back and your feet hip width apart. To protect your back, be sure to engage your abdominal muscles.

  2. Grab the barbell with your palms facing forward and shoulder width apart. Try to keep your elbows to your side during this weightlifting exercise, although they may move forward a bit when they're fully flexed.

  3. Slowly lift the bar towards your shoulders until your forearms are vertical.

  4. Slowly lower the bar until your arms are fully extended, but keep a slight bend in your elbows in this extended position. This will keep a slight tension in your muscles and prevent you from locking your joints.

You should feel the muscle contraction in the front of your upper arm (your biceps).

Dumbbell Curls for Biceps

Another popular arm exercise for women is the dumbbell curl. These can be done focusing on one arm at a time, or you can do alternate dumbbell curls to work both biceps at the same time by alternating your arms during the exercise (one dumbbell in each hand). Alternate dumbbell curls also contribute to core strength and stability.


  1. Stand with your back straight, knees slightly bent and feet about shoulder-width apart. (Alternatively, you can sit on a bench to do this part of your routine.)

  2. Hold the dumbbell in your hand with your palm facing upward. Keep your wrist straight and rigid.

  3. Slowly curl the weight up towards your shoulder by bending your elbow. Keep your elbows close to your body.

  4. Slowly curl the weight down to the starting position; while bringing the weight down, slowly rotate your wrist so that it's in the starting position when it reaches your side.

I chose this video because the trainer shows us two variations for this curl.

As with all weight training exercises for women, each repetition should be done slowly and with great control.

For another article on arm exercise for women focusing on the triceps, see: How to Lose Arm Fat.

How Many Repetitions Should I Do?

Depending on your particular workout, a good general guideline for arm exercises for women using weights is to do 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 16 repetitions each. One set with only 12 repetitions can work muscles and build strength just as effectively as three sets with 16 reps.

However, if you're only doing one set, you have to lift enough weight to tire your muscles at 12 reps. As you get stronger, you should increase the amount of weight you are lifting.

You can do these arm exercises for women three times per week (depending upon the rest of your workout routine). Don't do this routine every day as your muscles need time to rest and recover.

These basic arm exercises for women will have you rivaling Mrs. Obama's arms in no time!

Go Sleeveless

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If you think you might be ready for a full-body strength training workout, then check out Go Sleeveless. This program not only gives you a complete set of arm exercises for women, but is designed specifically to help women and girls achieve all their weight and fitness goals.

Please note that if you purchase this great program, I'll make a small commission to help support this free site. You do not pay anything extra. You can go directly to the Go Sleeveless website (no commission for me) if you prefer not to support this site. Here's the link:

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