Biceps exercises help prevent saggy, crinkly and jiggly skin in the upper arms of women.

But few women really know the most effective way to tone the biceps via strength training.

The latest fad among personal trainers (and maybe one day this fad will disappear) is to have their female clients standing one-legged while curling small dumbbells.

This looks fancy to onlookers who don’t know better, and these onlookers then start inquiring about training from that trainer.

Biceps exercises that actually WORK do not involve difficult balance moves.

The most effective biceps exercises for women are simple to learn.

The perfect exercises do not involve “burning” from all those biceps curls or even sitting at arm machines.

Routines for Toning and Shaping the Upper Arms

Deadlifts with palms facing away from you.


Chin-ups (keep trying and be persistant!)


Seated rows with palms up. The image below shows the most common position, but a palms-up position will engage the biceps more.


Incline dumbbell curls (sit on an adjustable weightlifting bench with the back support slightly set back). You must keep the upper arm immobile and vertical as the lower arm moves. This isolates the biceps muscles.

Everkinetic, CreativeCommons

Amount of Resistance

It should be challenging enough to make 8-12 repetitions difficult – while maintaining great form. If you can do more than 12 reps, the weight is too light.

Form is so important. I’ve seen women swinging their entire bodies into arm curls while they stand, whether using a barbell or dumbbell.

All too common are women who use a barbell that is way too light to induce much of an effect on their muscles.

You will not bulk up with heavier weights. In order to force your body to bulk up, you’d have to be curling something like 100 pounds.

Most women starting out will get a challenge with just a 30 pound barbell.

These routines should be done twice a week for optimal toning and strengthening effects on the biceps muscles.

Note: Working the BACK of the arms is also very important for women who want to tone and strengthen their entire arm.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/ Improvisor