5 Best Body Weight Exercises for Your Arms

Want to look good in your favorite t-shirt? Or just want stronger arms for lugging your groceries or kids? No matter the reason, Get-Fit Guy's 5 awesome arm exercises will get you toned, sclupted, and strong. 

Ben Greenfield
3-minute read
Episode #181

Whether you want to look good in your favorite t-shirt, have arms that are less tired when you’re carrying groceries or children, or be able to show off some toned triceps on your Facebook profile photo, better arms can be quite handy (pun painfully intended)..

Of course, there are tons of Get-Fit Guy resources for getting better arms. For example, in the episode How to Tone the Backs of Your Arms, you learn about moves like the Skull Crusher, the Close-Grip Bench Press, and Cable Pulldowns for sculpting better arms. And in How to Get Nice Shoulders you learn 3 important lessons about toning those upper arms.

But what if you don’t have the time or desire to hit the gym, and you just want the knowledge to be able to get better arms anytime, anyplace?

In this case, it comes in handy to know a few of the best moves for getting better arms, whether you’re in a hotel room, your backyard, a park, your bedroom, or your basement. So in this episode, you’ll get the 5 best body weight exercises for better arms:

Exercise #1: Knuckle Push-Ups

The knuckle push-up is just like a regular push-up except instead of doing the push-ups on your palms, you fold your hands into fists and do the push-ups on your knuckles. If you turn your knuckles to face one another, and keep your elbows close to your side as you do the push-up, it’s especially effective for toning the backs of your arms. This push-up style can also be more comfortable if standard push-ups hurt your wrists, or if you want to develop grip strength or hand strength. 

Exercise #2: Archer Pull-Ups

The archer pull-up is a fantastic arm-toning variation on the standard pull-up, and a great move to add to your arsenal if regular pull-ups get too boring. The Archer especially targets your biceps (front of your arms) and can be a fantastic way to get stronger for exercise #3 in this episode (muscle-ups).

You can read a more thorough explanation of the Archer pull-up here, but it basically involves flexing one arm to do your pull-ups, while the other arm is already extended and on top of the bar or pull-up apparatus (yes, yes, the photo and video in the link above will be much more helpful than the description).

Exercise #3: Muscle-Ups

Whether you perform them the easy way by pulling yourself up and out of a pool or you do them the hard way by choosing a challenging height such as a fence or wall or high bar, muscle-ups not only burn a huge number of calories but they also tone both the front and back of your arms.

An example of a version you can do at the gym is to simply find a bar that is at a height you can pull yourself up on, and then pull yourself up, but after you’ve pulled yourself up, lift yourself up and over the bar until your arms are fully extended and your whole body is extended upward.

Exercise #4: One Arm Dips

I’ll often do one arm dips on a chair in a hotel room or off the end of a bed. They’re just like a regular dip, in which your arms are elevated on a surface behind you and you bend your arms to a 900 angle then push back up to the starting position. The only difference is that you simply spread your legs wider for more stability, and switch to just one arm. Here’s a video of me performing this exercise using a bench at the gym.

Exercise #5: Front Flexes

Believe it or not, the mere act of flexing your muscles can build muscle, tone muscle, and burn calories. A great exercise for toning your arms is to simply stand and then flex with both your arms as if you are “showing off” your biceps. Squeeze as hard as you can and hold for 10 seconds, then release. Try 5 sets of 10-second holds, and you’ll understand why it was so hard for me to pose when I used to be a bodybuilder on stage. This style of exercise is called Isometric Training. For more on the research-proven benefits of isometrics, check out this excellent article by the ogranization that certified me to become a personal trainer (the National Strength and Conditioning Association).

See also: Get More Lean Muscle With Isometric Training


Remember – you don’t have to do a formal, long workout to work your arms effectively. You can simply throw any of these convenient body weight exercises in throughout your busy day, and get much better arms in the process!

If you have more questions about the best body weight exercises for toning your arms, then join the conversation over at the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page!

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.