Workouts for Women

Best Arms Workout for Women | The Ultimate Upper Body Workout

Tone your arms and increase strength in your upper body with this guide to the best arms workout for women.

For so many ladies out there, a key fitness and body goal is to develop a toned and shapely upper body. It can be a problematic area for many, and quite often upper body workouts are dismissed as something just for the guys.

Not anymore!

Whether you’re just starting out with weight training, or you’re looking for some fresh inspiration, our arms workout for women is here to help.

We’ll take you through a workout, designed to bring you all-round strength in our arms, and help you create a toned upper body. It really ticks all the boxes! 

Whether you’re aiming for firmer triceps, or a stronger bicep, we’ve got you covered with our all-encompassing arms workout for women.

Read on for:

  • Why do you need an arms workout?
  • How heavy should I lift?
  • Best arms workout for women

Why do you need an arms workout for women?

So many women miss out arm workouts from their weekly routine, worried it will make them bulky, just like those guys who are always hogging the free weights area.

Well, we’re happy to tell you that this just won’t happen. As a woman, it’s very unlikely you’re going to grow big, bulky muscle, it’s just not in your genetic makeup. 

Instead, a good arms workout for women can help to firm up the arms, and add extra strength and stability to this area of the body. Basically, it’s all pros here where we’re concerned!

We also know that a lot of women are worried about the way their arms look. The right arms workout for women can help you sculpt and tighten up the muscles in your arms, so you can feel powerful and confident in the way your body feels.

But bear in mind that, an arms workout will help you build muscle and tone up, but it won’t help you lose fat on your arms. To do that you need to nail down your diet, up your protein intake and create a calorie deficit. Find out more about how to do that with our body recomposition article here. 

And, if your goal is to lose some fat while you tone your body, why not check out some of our HIIT Sprint workouts too, they’ll help you support muscle and torch fat.

On top of that, by working your arms on the regular, you’re creating a strong overall physique. Ideal!

[Related Article: Best Shoulder Workout for Women]

How heavy should I lift?

The process of growing strength is all about adaptation. By lifting heavy weights, you’re breaking down the fibres within your muscle.

To adapt to this new challenge, your body grows back new, more powerful muscle fibres which are bigger and stronger, so they can handle the strain you’ve put them under. In order to keep this process moving forward you need to continually increase the challenge you’re putting your body under, so it can keep improving.

This whole process if called progressive overload and, by finding an effective arms workout for women, you can continually improve you strength.

With this in mind, you need to keep it challenging. Everyone is different so we’re not going to tell you to pick up 50kgs and give us 20. That’s crazy.

Just ensure you’re constantly asking your body to put in the work. As soon as it starts to feel easy, or you’re not feeling the burn, it’s time to up the weight or maybe even add another set to your training regime. 

Remember though, that where you might be able to add 10kg to a squat or deadlift without thinking too much about it, your arms are much smaller muscles. Use smaller increments, like one or two kilos each time and you’ll still see some big improvements – trust us! 

[Related article: Best Shoulder Workout for Beginners]

The best arms workout for women

Bench Press55
Side Raises410
Tricep Pushdowns412
Military Press310
Skull Crushers310
Bicep Curls310 each arm

For more information on why we chose these movements, and links to our exercise guides, read on girl.

Bench Press

5 set of 5 reps

This compound lift is the perfect way to kickstart our favorite arms workout for women. It gets a huge range of muscles in your arms, chest and shoulders working together, in a harmonious, functional way – just what we want for a healthy, well-rounded physique.  As a compound movement, the bench press drills in on those tiny stabilizing muscles too, that helps shore up the more delicate joints in your shoulder too. 

On top of that, the more muscles you’re using, the more calories you’re burning, so this is a great place to start. A five-by-five pattern is also a great set up to build strength.

Learn how to do a bench press with our exercise guide.

Lateral raises

woman doing a lateral raise

4 sets of 10 reps

The shoulders are essential to sculpting a toned, strong upper body. Whether you’re wearing a strappy top or a sleeveless dress, having a tone shoulder can help to really boost your confidence! 

What’s more, the shoulder is a pretty delicate joint, and is one of the most common areas people injure. By including movements like lateral raises, you’ll help shore up this area, whilst toning too! A no brainer for our arms workout for women.

Give it a go yourself and one thing we will say is start light! As we’ve said, the shoulder can be a little temperamental so if you’re just starting out, we would definitely recommend going light because this one starts to burn pretty quickly. 

Tricep Pushdowns

4 sets of 12 reps

The back of the arm is a problem point for so many ladies, so a tricep exercise is the perfect addition to a good arms workout for women. It’ll help to build firmness and strength on the back of the arm, where we know a lot of women feel they’d like to see improvement. Another reason it’s in our best arms workout for women! 

A tricep pushdown is ideal for growing strength in the upper arm. The cable provides constant resistance, so you’ll be working hard throughout every part of every rep.

Check out our exercise guide for tricep pushdowns.

Military press

woman performing a military press

3 sets of 10 reps

Get all the muscles in your shoulders working hard, and strengthen up the joint with a military shoulder press. This is another compound movement that gets a huge number of muscles working together.

This will help you create toned muscle and help to add strength to a range of upper body lifts. It’s a solid addition to an arms workout for women.

Check out our exercise guide on how to military press here. 

Skull Crushers

3 sets of 10 reps

As we all know, working the tricep is key to firming up the back of the arm, so we’ve added skullcrushers into our arms workout for women too to complement the other tricep exercises we’ve added to this workout. 

In addition to the tricep push downs we saw earlier in the workout, these will also work your tris like crazy, putting the focus in on creating a strong, balanced arm. We’d recommend starting out with a light weight for a couple reasons. 

  1. You don’t want to be lowering big weights down towards your face without some assurance you’ll be able to push them back up.
  2. This can start to feel sore pretty quickly, so don’t overdo it!

Discover how to do it, with our guide to skullcrushers.

Bicep curls

woman with toned arms

3 sets of 10 each arm

The curls aren’t just for the guys girl! Grab some dumbbells and start toning your arm with some bicep curls. Do 10 for each arm over three sets and transform your upper body physique.

They’re essential for a well balanced upper body physique and look like absolute goals in a short sleeve top.

What’s more, the bicep is super important in just about all of your more compound upper body lifts. Think bench press, shoulder press and even pull ups! So it’s pretty important you work them. Again, ten reps is quite a lot for such a small muscle, so start off light and see how you feel. Adding 1kg to a bicep curl can make a big difference, so see how you feel, but make sure you’re getting a good pump on!

Perfect your technique and check out our guide on how to do bicep curls right here. 

The final rep – gymgirlfit hints and tips

A good arms workout for women will help you grow all round strength and build muscle throughout your upper body. By doing this, you’ll have shapely, toned arms for days.

Our main tips are keep it challenging and don’t expect this workout to get rid of fat. Spot training doesn’t work. The way to lose fat on your arms and your whole body is to get your diet nailed, stay active and achieve a calorie deficit.

There you have it girl, that’s everything you need to know to pull in an amazing arms workout for women.


gymgirlfit was created by health and fitness enthusiasts, with backgrounds in powerlifting and writing. We've written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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