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Wanting to show off a pair of well-defined arms isn’t just for the guys anymore. Luckily, both men and women can apply the same rules to their arm training.

The idea that men need to lift one way and women need to lift another is a myth grounded in the stereotype that getting “big” is desirable for men that getting “toned” is desirable for women. In truth, the size and shape of muscle is dictated by a number of factors including diet, genetics, and hormones. Meaning, men tend to have a leg up in the getting-big department on account of having more testosterone, not really because they chose a different workout.

Human muscle tissue responds to resistance, plain and simple. The same exercises, volumes, and rep ranges work just as well for men as they do for women. Will men—not as a rule, in general—lift a bit heavier? Sure. But conceptually, men and women can work from the same blueprint. That’s true for most training methodologies, and it’s certainly the case when it comes to something as simple as arm training. Men and women looking to go sleeveless or just look good in a T-shirt can use this arm workout.

The key is simply to pick weights that are challenging for the given rep range. When you see a rep range of 8-12, that means getting 8 reps should be difficult and that getting 12 should be very difficult. If it’s easy to get into that rep range, then you’ve chosen a weight that’s too light. Go heavier. And remember that you can’t get big or cut or affect any other kind of change to your physique if you’re not eating to produce that particular outcome. So don’t worry too much about it. Just be honest with yourself and put in the work.


Barbell Curl 4 X 10-12
Skull Crusher 4 X 10-12

Hammer Curl 3 X 8-12
Dumbbell Kickback 3 X 8-12

Rope Curl 4 X 12-15
Rope Pressdown 4 X 12-15

DIRECTIONS: Do the following workout 1-2 times per week. Where indicated with the words SUPERSET WITH, perform exercises back-to-back without rest.


Barbell Curl: Load a barbell—or use a fixed barbell—and stand up straight, holding the bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Squeeze your biceps to curl the weight all the way up. Squeeze for a second in the top position, then slowly return to the start.

Skull Crusher: Load an EZ-curl bar and lie on your back on a bench with the bar pressed straight up. Keeping your elbows pointed toward the ceiling, bend your arms to lower the weight toward your forehead. Squeeze your triceps to push the weight back to the starting position.

Hammer Curl: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and, without using any momentum, curl the weight up to chest level, stopping just shy of your shoulder. Squeeze your biceps at the peak of the movement, then slowly return to the start position.

Dumbbell Kickback: Hold a dumbbell in one hand and rest your opposite hand and knee on a bench. Keeping your back flat and your working elbow glued to your side, extend your arm and squeeze your triceps hard in the top position before slowly returning to the start. Repeat for an equal number of reps on each side.

Rope Curl: Attach a rope attachment to a pulley in the bottom position. Hold the rope with both hands at the ends, with your hands in an underhand position, then curl it up to your chest. Raise and lower the weight under control; don’t use momentum.

Rope Extension: Attach a rope attachment to a pulley in the top position. Hold the rope with both hands at the ends, with your hands in an overhand position, then press it down until your elbows are fully extended. Raise and lower the weight under control; don’t use momentum.

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