Made by chin-ups, deadlifts, and rows.

Great Arms without the an Arm Workout Day

Made by chin-ups, deadlifts, and rows.

A woman approached me at the soccer field Saturday to compliment my arms. I can’t begin to tell you how great this felt. I had twigs for arms nearly my entire life, so my belly goes a’flutter when I get these compliments.

She asked my routine, and one of the first things that came out of my mouth was that I hardly every do anything that is dubbed an arm exercise. I treat arms much the same way as I treat abs in my programming.

Just like crunches biceps curls, triceps extensions, and all the exercises designed to build arm muscles do very little to promote any metabolic effect. So, just like abs workouts, arm workouts for the average woman drive me equally as crazy.

And don’t even talk to me about an abs and arm routine. My head may explode.

So how can a woman build nice, sleek, sculpted arms without doing direct work?The same way she can get nice abs without hammering her midsection every week. Many free weight movements require you use your arms at some point to lift the weight. Whether it’s loading the bar, picking in the kettlebell, or holding the bar in place for a squat; your arms are working.

Unless you figured out how to use your toes and teeth to do this job.

That’s another marvelous thing about being human. We were gifted with these limbs that enhance our utilitarian effort. Unlike birds or fish, we don’t need a powerful beak or broad mouth to manipulate objects.

Our arms do that for us. So when you manipulate objects around the gym, your arms inadvertently get a great workout.

Think about the last time you performed a deadlift, chin-up, row, push-up, squat, or kettlebell swing without using your arms. It was pretty tough, huh? In fact, I bet you just had a staring contest with the gym equipment, or you tried to channel enough energy to move it with your mind.

Rather than putting forth a huge effort to get in 10 arm-labeled exercises each week, try adding a variety of compound movements to your routine.

Some great exercises to help you build up arm strength and size include:






Cleans (kettlebell or barbell)

Snatch (kettlebell/barbell)

Bench press variations

Shoulder press variations

Med ball slam variations

Lat pulldown variations


Kettlebell swing variations


Just to name a few.

These movements will help you build muscle and will positively affect your metabolism so that you begin using energy more efficiently. This will kick in your fat burning mechanism, helping to reveal those sleek muscles.

If you have an issue with fat stores on your arms, adjusting your diet so that you eat in a deficit will also help improve your arm shape. A curse and blessing about being a woman is that you typically lose weight from the top down. This means that you will lose the fat in your arms first (and in your hips last BOOO!).

Men and women both enjoy having direct arm work in their routines. It just gives you such a great pump and you earn instant gratification.  A grueling bicep curl session will leave your arms full with a noticeable muscle hardness. That’s definitely a bonus. Adding in direct arm work at the right time in your routine will make your effort worthwhile.

 Here is a sample workout that will help you build great arms:

American deadlift 3 sets, 5-6 reps

Chin-up 3 sets, 3-8 reps

Bulgarian split squat 3 sets, 8-10 reps each side

Barbell bench press 3 sets, 6-8 reps

Two-arm kettlebell swing 2 sets, 10-15 reps

(Optional) Biceps concentration curls 2 sets, 10-12 reps

(Optional) Close-width push-ups 1 set, as many as possible








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