5 Low-Weight, High-Rep Exercises For Toned Arms And Shoulders

Dec 9, 2016 //

Which way to the beach? Whether your goal is to look amazing in a tank top or it’s to simply be able to carry heavy groceries with ease, there’s nothing like a good pair of sexy arms and toned shoulders to get you through it all.

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If you’re looking to add power and definition to your arms and shoulders without adding bulk, these low-weight, high-rep exercises are perfect for you. Throw them into your regular exercise routine or do them alone as their own upper-body workout a few times a week. All you need is a set of low-weight dumbbells.

Make sure you warm up a little before you begin any exercise, and always stretch thoroughly. Seriously, stretch it out. It helps. When you’re ready to start lifting, follow the instructions below.

1. Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows


You’ll need dumbbells for this one. Choose a weight that you’re comfortable with (no need to struggle, we’re not training to be professional lifters here) and lean on a bench with one knee.

  1. Put a dumbbell on the floor next to a flat bench.
  2. Position your left knee and your left hand on the bench, with your back straight and parallel to the ground.
  3. Grab the dumbbell with your right hand (palm facing inward) and lift it straight up as high as possible, focusing on your back as the dumbbell reaches its highest point.
  4. Keep the dumbbell next to your body throughout the movement.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back down, but don’t let it touch the ground.
  6. Repeat 12 to 15 times, and then switch to the other side without resting.

2. Chest Flys


Only one dumbbell needed for this one, but a yoga mat could come in handy.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your arms up above your chest, palms facing in, with the dumbbell in one hand.
  3. Lower your arms down to each side, making sure your elbows stay slightly bent and facing out to the side.
  4. Bring your arms back up.
  5. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side for one set.

3. Poliquin Raises / Shoulder Cycles

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  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms straight out in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing in.
  3. Then, open your arms out to each side so your body forms a “T” shape, with your palms facing forward.
  4. Lower your arms down to the start position.
  5. Repeat this motion, or “cycle” for six reps, then reverse the direction of the motion for six more reps to complete one set.

4. Overhead Tricep Extensions


This is one that only requires one dumbbell.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab the dumbbell in both hands, holding it above your head goblet style.
  2. Your upper arms should be next to your ears.
  3. Bend your elbows back until your arms form a nearly 90 degree angle, then straighten your arms back up to the start position.
  4. Repeat this movement 10 to 12 times for one set.
  5. If this is too easy, try increasing the weight of the dumbbell.

5. Bicep Curls

  1. Kneel down on the floor with one leg up, foot flat on the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the hand opposite your knee in the up position.
  3. The dumbbell should be resting at your side, palm facing forward.
  4. Curl the dumbbell up to your shoulder, keeping your elbow pinned into your side.
  5. Lower the weight back down, then repeat 12 times.
  6. Switch to the other side and do 12 more reps to complete one set.

Remember To Stretch And Lift Safely

Make sure to always warm up before getting into your weight lifting routine, and never lift more than you’re capable of. If your form is beginning to suffer at all or if you’re feeling pain, stop what you’re doing and take a break. You may need to lower the weight to make sure you can perform all the repetitions safely. Toning and strengthening those sexy arms and shoulders is a worthwhile goal, but it’s not worth hurting yourself over. Be safe and take it slow.