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14 Arm & Shoulder Exercises


Three distinct muscle structures make up the deltoids, or shoulder muscle: anterior head (front), posterior head (back), and lateral head (middle). Different exercises benefit each group. We will address each group beginning with the front delts.

Front Military Press

Your will need a barbell. While standing, grasp barbell at shoulder width, position in front of your neck. Press bar overhead until arms are extended. Lower back to starting position. Keep your chest out and back straight.

Front Raise

Your will need dumbbells. In standing position, hold dumbbells in both hands, elbows bent to around 20 degree angles. Raise one arm until it is parallel with the floor. Lower and repeat with the other arm.

Middle Lateral Raises

You will need a dumbbell. In a standing position, hold dumbbells in both hands, elbows slightly bent. Raise both arms to the side simultaneously until parallel with the floor. Lower to starting position.

Keep elbows at a height equal to your wrists. Palms facing toward each other at the bottom of the exercise and downwards at the top. This works the side delts.

If you want a change, you can do this exercise seated on a bench. Doing one arm at a time while supporting the other side of your body will allow you to use heavier weights. Bent over lateral raises can be effective at working the rear delts as well as the side delts.


The lateral exercise also works the back delts.

Upper Arm Triceps

These are the muscles on the back or under part of your upper arms.

Triceps Pushdown

Stand straight with your elbows straight tightly at you sides. Knees slightly bent. Grasp attachment and push down until your arms are extended then let it rise until your forearm is again close to your upper arm.

Make sure you are using your triceps and not using your bodyweight in the pushdown. Do not swing. Squeeze your triceps at the bottom.

You can do this move with one arm at a time. You can use an overhand or underhand grip. More of the forearm is affected using the underhand grip.


Place two benches of equal height parallel to each other. Sit on one bench and place your feet, crossed at the ankles, on the other bench. At shoulder width, grip the bench you are sitting on, arms straight. Lower your body by bending your arms until your butt touches the floor. Your upper arms and forearms should form a 90 degree angle. Rise back to starting position.

Do not go lower than where your upper arm and forearm form a 90 degree angle. This will help avoid injury. Stay in control. Don’t allow momentum to do the work for you. For additional resistance, place a weight in your lap.

Close Grip Bench Presses

Lie face up on bench. Using a narrow grip, grab bar. Lower the bar to the middle of your chest and raise it until your arms are nearly locked. Keep your elbows close to your body. Avoid arching your back.


Biceps are the muscles on the front section of your upper arm.

Biceps Curl

You will need a barbell. In a standing position grasp the barbell with a shoulder width grip, elbows at your side. Raise the barbell until your forearms come near your upper arms. Lower until your arms are extended down in the starting position.

Keep your elbows at your side throughout the entire movement. Use the full range of motion. Do not bend your back to aid in lifting. You can do this exercise using the overhand or the underhand grip.

  • One arm dumbbell curls, whether standing or sitting, allows for extra emphasis.
  • Hammer curls. Position the dumbbells vertically to work different muscles.
  • To eliminate ‘cheating’ and increase difficulty, lie on an inclined bench.
  • Preacher curls. Arms are kept at an angle away from the body. Increases difficulty.

The forearms are the arm’s portion from the elbow to the hand. The forearms are worked with virtually every exercise that involves the arms in any way. Thus, the forearms get their workout whenever you use your arms. However, wrist curls do target the forearms.

Wrist Curls

You will need a barbell. From a seated position, grasp the barbell with an underhand grip. Rest your forearms on your thighs, wrist extending over your knees. Lower your wrists and allow the barbell to roll out of grip and onto your fingers. Then, re-grip the barbell and extend the wrists upward. Keep forearms tight against your thighs. This move can be done with dumbbells.

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