Using Body Weight to Tone Arms

Man hanging on rope for toning arms with bodyweight exercise

The truth is you can tone your arms using simple body weight toning exercises. That means you can have great looking arms with easy workouts at home or in the gym.

Most men favor more massive biceps and triceps, while women (bodybuilders excluded) generally like slender and well toned arms.

Either way, I think we can all agree that toned arms and muscular arms are more attractive than flabby or bony arms?

But no one is born with great looking arms. Those shapely and toned arms we see on other people came at a cost. They spent time, energy, and devotion exercising and developing them.

I can show you a few simple exercises to tone and build your arms, but it’s up to you to do the work.

It’s easy to think it takes weights and machines at the gym to to get great looking arms, But it doesn’t.

Here are 3 exercises you can do at home using only your own body weight. With no weights or home gym equipment and only a few minutes a day you can have great looking arms.

1. Chair Dips for Biceps and Triceps

You can get amazing workouts with your dining room chairs right at home. This chair exercise is perfect for toning your arms with nothing but your own body weight. And it only takes moments to get set up, and do a few reps.

Actually, dips are always considered a staple of any upper body exercise plan because they concentrate all your exertion on to both upper and lower arms.

There are two ways to use chairs to tone or build tricep and bicep muscles. You can use two chairs or only one. If you’re new to dips, I would say start out with the two chair method.

I find that I can more easily control my body weight and how much exertion I am applying to my arms and shoulders with two chair backs.

I’ll explain the differences below, so that you can take your pick. Either way, remember to start out slow and easy.

Using Sets and Reps for the Best Results

Whether you’re after toned and sculpted arms or building muscle mass, the key is sets and reps.

Reps (repetitions) is how many times you push up from a chair within a set.

For instance you could start with two sets of 3 reps and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps. That simply means push up 3 times, rest a minute or so, and push up 3 times again. That’s 2 sets of 3 reps.

How To Do Chair Dips With Images

There are two ways to exercise and tone your arms with:

  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Park benches
  • Any two objects you can stand between that’s at least waist high and will support your body weight.

Dipping Between Two Chairs

man exercising with body weight to tone arms
  • Step 1. Pull two chair backs or sturdy tables together. Get the chairs arranged like the image above with the backs facing each other and about your shoulder width apart. (* be sure that either the chairs or tables are sturdy enough to hold your own body weight.
  • Step 2. Just stand between the chairs with both hands palms down gripping the chair tops.
  • Step 3. Now to do actual dips, you want to bend your arms at the elbow so that your upper arm is parallel with the floor like the image above. Now you bend your knees so that your feet or knees are touching the floor, and lower and lift your bodyweight as you straighten your arms. Up and down constitutes one repetition and these are great for toning arms along with chest and back muscles.

For these chair back dips to work, you will need two chairs whose height will work for you and you can easily grip the tops.

*Important note about chair back dips.

You don’t really have to do full dips with your feet off the floor to reap the benefits of chair dips.
Start out by merely getting between the chairs or tables and simply bend your knees and lift as much of your weight as can with arms while helping out with your knees

Dipping With One Chair

chair dips for toning arms with bodyweight

You can see how this exercise could be too much for a complete beginner. I only say that because it’s possible that you could start the exercise and not be able to push the weight of your body off the floor.

Nevertheless, here’s the steps for getting started with one chair:

  • Step 1. Choose a chair that’s strong and sturdy enough to hold your body weight up without moving or collapsing.
  • Step 2. Find a comfortable position seated on the floor, feet and legs outstretched before you, with arms behind you gripping the front edge of the chair.
  • Step 3. Lift yourself off the floor by straightening and fully extending your arms behind you. The lift is from your arms to your heels which remain on the floor.

Like all workouts to build and tone muscles, you want to concentrate on sets and reps. Because I have no idea where you are in strength and ability, I have no advice for how many of either.

Whether you’re a muscle man or a beginner to working out, there’s no reason to hurt yourself, right?

If you can only use your arms to lift yourself up once — then do it once 2 or 3 times. It’s staying committed to the process that produces the results you want, and strength will improve over time.

2. Chin Ups

This is technically a pull up with the palms facing away. Even though pullups take some of the pressure from the biceps, it is still good for toning.

Chin Ups are not for the weak of heart! The majority of the people I see at the gym, try not to even look towards the chin up bar because pulling your entire body weight straight up with your arms takes a lot of strength.

However, and this is important:

You don’t really need to do complete chin ups to reap the benefits.

For toning your arms with chin ups it’s the number of sets and reps that make the difference, not the ability to execute full and perfect chin ups.

If you are one of the masses who can’t execute a chin up, you get the same benefits from doing them different.

Here’s how to do chin ups when you’re not a muscle man/woman:

Usually a chin up bar is placed high enough that it takes either a full stretch or slight jump to reach it.

But, you can also place the bar at a height that allows you to have outstretched arms with your feet on the floor and your knees bent.

Now as you pull up with your arms you can start straightening your knees to allow your legs to push up most of the weight.

You can also place something (sturdy enough) under a bar to stand on to get you to the right height.

When you’re ready to do your chin ups, use these steps:

  • Step 1. Locate or purchase a chin up bar to use either in a doorway or outdoors. * You can do this exercise even without a bar at all, by standing in a doorway, reaching overhead and grasping with your fingertips the top of the horizontal trim.
  • Step 2. Reach up and grab the bar, door trim, swing set, tree limb, etc with palms facing your body.
  • Step 3. Using your arms and shoulders pull your body upwards towards the bar until your chin clears it. The correct method is arms fully bent at the elbow, feet hanging in the air with knees bent. (*You can tone your arms perfectly by using only your body weight helped by a lifting action from your knees on a solid surface. As your strength improves, you can start practicing the correct form for chin ups.)
  • Step 4. When you reach the top of the exercise, slowly lower your body until your arms are fully extended. The upwards pull and the lowering to fully extended arms equals one repetition.
Doing Pull Ups Outside

3. Wall Pushups

animated gif man doing wall pushups for toning arms

Wall pushups are great for your arms and shoulders. They don’t require a lot of strength, you can do them almost anywhere and anytime, and are about as simple as you get.

This arm toner exercise incorporates your biceps, lats, and triceps for good looking arms.

Here’s how to do wall pushups for better looking arms:

  1. Stand about 1-2 feet away from any wall.
  2. Put your palms on the wall at shoulder height with fingertips facing up and a little wider than your shoulders.
  3. Now with your feet planted on the floor, bend your elbows, bringing your chest to the wall.
  4. Push your body out and away from the wall, extending your arms fully.

Do 3 sets of as many reps as you can comfortably do. The more often you practice this exercise, the more strength and endurance you’ll have which will lead to better toned and sculpted arms.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does toning my arms mean?

In reality, there is no scientific definition of a toned arm. That being said, most people would agree that toned arms means the opposite of flabby or bony.

If you hang around bodybuilders and gyms you will likely be led to believe, and rightly so, that toning means to have less fat and more muscle.

How much less fat and how much more muscle is pretty much a personal value you set for yourself. So toning your arms means to get them to look good when you look at yourself in the mirror.

2. How many reps and sets for toning my arms?

The first thing to remember here is that this post is about toning your arms with your own bodyweight.

That means you’re lifting a lot of weight compared to what you would use with dumbbells. Keeping that in mind, the next question would be:

Are you new to exercising or planned workouts? If you’re just getting started, go slow and easy, especially with the chinups and chair dips.

With the chair dips, start out with one or two times for a few days. The goal would be to do 3 sets of as many reps as you can work up to.

Same thing with the chinups, and remember to use your legs with these and the dips until you get the hang of it.

The end goal should be something like 8-12 reps with 3 sets. When you get to doing 3 sets of 12 reps with your body weight you will see toned and somewhat sculpted arms.

3. How often should I do arm toning exercises?

For best results, workout 3-4 times a week for 20-45 minutes. The best arm-toning exercise will fatigue your muscles by the time you finish the reps for each set.

Overtraining will not make your arms toned, muscular, or sexy — so make sure you have a rest day after every workout day. Toning or building, either one, actually makes minute tears in your muscles that require rest to repair and come back looking better.

That doesn’t mean you can’t train on other days. Just work other parts of your body and let your arms rest and recuperate.

4. How long does it take to tone flabby arms?

How long usually coincides with your weight loss. If you’re overweight, you’ll need to diet and exercise to lose weight, while you are using the arm exercises above to tone them.

If your arms are flabby from overweight there’s no real way to slim down your arms only. Losing weight generally means changing your diet and starting a regular and systematic exercise routine.

Want to learn more about losing weight? Check out our post here: How To Stop Overeating and Lose Weight?

On the other hand, if your arms aren’t flabby, most research suggest that you should see a remarkable difference in the way your arms look in 4 weeks or so. Of course that is with you sticking to a routine of exercising your arms at least 3- 4 times a week.

If it’s muscular arms you’re after, plan on months of regular exercise to see your biceps and triceps getting substantially larger.

Here’s the Best Arm Workouts for Mass and Definition.

5. What Gym Equipment is Best for Toning Arms?

  • Dumbbells. Forget doing many reps with little weight. That’s a myth that waste time, and causes you to lose your motivation. Instead focus on 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps with as much weight as you can handle to get it accomplished. If that means stating with 2lbs, so be it. But don’t get stuck there. For the best results, keep a journal, make an entry for every workout, and constantly increase the weight. Check out this article on Best Health Mag. to learn how to get the most from dumbbell exercises.
  • Upright Stationary Bikes with moving handlebars. These exercise bikes depend on your upper body and arms as well as your legs to move the pedals and are excellent for your arms. In fact you can use only the handlebars and rest your feet on the pegs with not pedaling at all.
  • Elliptical Machines. Elliptical machines also rely on your arms to get a workout. Instead of sitting while you exercise ellipticals are more like skiing with poles to work your arms. Because they give you a full body workout, including your shoulders and upper and lower arms they are great for toning.

Summary

Toning your arms for the best look takes more than exercise. Sometimes it takes changing your body weight, but almost always takes a balanced plan of action.

You won’t be able to spot reduce flab from your arms without including the rest of your body. You’ll find that as you get into a regular exercise routine, eating right, sleeping right, and treating your body with respect makes you eager to look your best.

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