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Strengthening Your Arm For Women 40+

Welcome back to our series about strength training, specifically tailored for women over 40. Today, we are focusing on a critical aspect of fitness—arm strength. Strong arms are not just about aesthetic appeal but are important for daily functionality and independence.

This Strengthening Your Arms for Women session will explore three foundational exercises: Bicep Curls, Triceps Curls (Extensions), and Triceps Kickbacks. Incorporating these movements and complementary exercises will enable a robust arm workout, enhancing muscle endurance and improving overall strength. Let’s dive into the correct techniques for these exercises and how to maximize your arm workouts with additional movements.

Bicep Curls: The Foundation of Arm Training

Bicep curls are fundamental in any arm-strengthening regimen. They primarily target the bicep muscles at the front of the upper arms.

How to do Bicep Curls:

  1. Get Started: Take hold of two dumbbells and stand upright. Position your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and allow the dumbbells to dangle at your sides, with your palms facing toward the front.
  2. Curl It Up: Without moving your upper arms, Flex your elbows to lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders. Really focus on using your biceps to pull the weights up rather than swinging your arms.
  3. Squeeze and Hold: Give your biceps a good squeeze once you reach the top. There’s no rush here; make that squeeze count—got it!
  4. Lower Slowly: Slowly lower the dumbbells to your starting position. This part is just as important as the curl-up because it also works your muscles on the way down.
  5. Keep It Tight: Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the exercise, and don’t let them drift forward. This keeps the focus on your biceps rather than letting other muscles take over.

Expert Tip: Focus on the mind-muscle connection by imagining your biceps lifting the weights rather than your hands doing the work. Keep your body steady—no rocking—and keep your elbows locked beside your torso to help you isolate the bicep muscles effectively.

Best Exercise Combo with Deadlifts

For increased bicep engagement, try incorporating Hammer Curls, which involve rotating your palms towards each other during the curl. This targets the brachialis, a muscle that can enhance the overall appearance of your biceps. Try holding a forearm plank between your sets to keep your core engaged and active.

Another exercise combo is Lunges with your Bicep Curls: Start by gripping a dumbbell in each hand and letting it hang at your sides. Then, take a step forward with your right leg into a lunge position, keeping your upper body straight. As you lunge, perform a bicep curl. Step back and repeat on the other leg. This combo works simultaneously with your legs and biceps, giving you a solid full-body workout component. Doing bicep curls and lunges together saves time and increases the intensity of your workout, boosting both strength and endurance across your body. Plus, it keeps things interesting!

Triceps Curls (Extensions): Beyond the Basics

Triceps curls, also known as triceps extensions, focus on the triceps at the back of the upper arms—an area often neglected but crucial for any pushing movements.

How to do Triceps Curls:

  1. Grab Your Weights: You can use a dumbbell or a barbell. If you’re going with a dumbbell, hold it with both hands right behind your head, with your elbows pointed up and arms bent.
  2. Position Yourself: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back nice and tall and your core tight to protect your lower back.
  3. Lift It Up: Extend your arms above your head, lifting the weight until your arms are fully stretched out. But hey, don’t lock your elbows completely; keep them a little soft.
  4. Bring It Back Down: Slowly lower the weight back behind your head. Ensure it’s a controlled movement; don’t let gravity do the work for you.
  5. Repeat: Do about 8-12 reps per set if you’re looking to build some strength and muscle. Adjust the weight so the last couple of reps feel challenging but doable.

Expert Tip: Keep your elbows pointing forward and avoid them flaring out to maintain tension on the triceps.

Combine with: To broaden the workout’s scope, alternate triceps curls with overhead presses during your session. This works your triceps and engages your shoulders and upper back. Adding push-ups to your routine will target your chest and core, providing a comprehensive upper-body workout.

You can pair these triceps curls with lunges or squats to mix up your routine and give your legs some love. Here’s how you can smoothly transition into lunges, for example:

  • After finishing a set of triceps curls, keep the weights in your hands if they’re not too heavy.
  • Move forward into a lunge position while maintaining a straight upper body and activating your core muscles.
  • Return to the initial position and alternate legs.

This combo keeps the workout fun and balanced, hitting both the upper and lower body. Plus, it saves time by blending strength training with some cardio if you keep the pace up.

Triceps Kickbacks: Sculpting and Defining

Triceps kickbacks help sculpt the back of your arms, emphasizing the definition and strength of your triceps. Let’s break down how to nail triceps kickbacks first:

How to do Triceps Kickbacks:

  1. Grab Your Weights: Start by picking up some dumbbells. Nothing too heavy, just enough to give your triceps a good workout without straining.
  2. Get Into Position: Lean forward slightly by bending at your hips. Keep your back straight, not rounded, sort of like you’re about to take off in a sprint but decided to lift weights instead. Plant your feet about hip-width apart for good balance.
  3. Start the Move: Hold the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Keep your elbows close to your body, and then flex your arms to lift the dumbbells up towards your chest.
  4. Kick It Back: Here’s the fun part—extend your arms back until they’re fully straight. Really focus on using your triceps to do this. You should feel them burning a bit.
  5. Return to Start: Bring the weights back to the bent position gently. No swinging!
  6. Repeat: Aim for about 10-15 reps per set and do 2-4 sets, depending on what feels right for you.

Expert Tip: Visualize pushing against a resistance to maximize the contraction in the triceps during the pause at the top.

Combine this with the following: Consider further integrating dips into your routine to challenge your triceps. You can perform these on a bench or a stable chair. Adding lateral raises will help work the shoulder muscles, creating a more balanced upper-body strength profile. Or you can combine it with my favorite exercise—squats —if you haven’t already figured it out. Combining triceps kickbacks with squats allows you to simultaneously target both upper and lower body muscles. This combo saves time and helps keep your heart rate up, giving you a bit of a cardio push!


Including these exercises in your strength training regimen will help sculpt and fortify your arms, enhancing your functional capacity, which makes everyday activities seem less challenging and more controllable. Remember, consistency is key, and progression in weight and intensity can lead to significant improvements over time. Keep following our series for more insights into how to stay strong and vibrant at any age. In our next installment, we’ll delve deeper into additional exercises to keep you empowered and energized. Keep pushing, and see you soon!


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