There are numerous reasons why people choose to get, or stay, in shape. As much as you’d like to believe that self-motivation is the reason you go to the gym, let’s face it: That isn’t always the case. Sometimes you’re downright scared — that you’ll gain weight or that your health will suffer, for example. And that fear can be an extremely motivating force. But other times it’s nice to show the world that you’re fit and healthy and not fearful in the least. And the most prominent sign of strength is well-defined arms. So — what do yours look like?

“A lot of women worry about having flabby arms,” remarks IFBB professional Jessica Mone. “When they wave their arms, they don’t want them to jiggle. First and foremost, I tell people they have to lose weight all over; you can’t spot-reduce.”

She should know, since she deals with such concerns on a daily basis as a personal trainer. And while eating a healthy diet and doing the right amount of cardio play just as important a role, regular weight training can go a long way in preventing that flabby-arm problem

“One of the many benefits of weight training for women is fat loss,” Jessica explains. “Lifting weights will help burn away some of that excess fat, and you’ll see the more defined, toned arms you want to see.”

This doesn’t mean you have to be in the gym training arms every day, either. Jessica is in the gym five days a week, training a different bodypart each day. In other words, most of the time she devotes only about 45 minutes a week to training her arms. “I train biceps and triceps on the same day,” says Jessica. “I feel I can best focus on my arms by training them in one workout a week. I’ve always done that.”

Jessica — who became an IFBB professional competitor at age 20 — typically trains biceps before triceps for about nine working sets per muscle group. She keeps things moving by using relatively short rest periods, about one minute between sets. “I usually start with biceps, but sometimes I know my body needs something different, so I’ll change things up and train my triceps first just to shock the muscles.”

When she’s preparing for a contest, she supersets her exercises — meaning she performs two exercises back to back without resting in between. Noncompetitors can do this, too: It’s a great way to get through your workout more quickly and burn more calories in the process. You can pair two biceps moves or even a biceps exercise with a triceps movement, supersetting them the same way.

One-arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Target: Biceps

Start: Using a preacher-curl bench or an incline bench set to about 45 degrees, stand behind the bench and lean forward so your working arm fits snugly at the top, your triceps flush against the pad. Grasp a dumbbell with a supinated (palm-up) grip. Keep a slight bend in your elbow at the start.

Action: Curl the dumbbell toward your shoulder, squeeze for a peak contraction and lower under control. Keep your forearm aligned with your upper arm throughout the exercise. Repeat for reps, then switch arms.

Jessica says: “On this one, make sure you go through a full range of motion — bring the weight completely back to the start.”


Standing EZ-Bar Curl (not pictured)

Target: Biceps

Start: Attach an EZ-bar to a low-cable pulley. Take a shoulder-width underhand grip on the outer curls of the bar and stand erect, abs tight and knees unlocked.

Action: Curl the bar toward your shoulders, squeeze for a peak contraction and lower under control. Keep your elbows pinned by your sides throughout the movement and avoid swinging your body to help you lift the weight.

Jessica says: “As with all exercises, proper form is a must. Keep your elbows close to your sides, bend your knees slightly and don’t use momentum to lift the weight. I make sure to always get a good stretch and move slowly. I sometimes tend to move too fast, so I have to remind myself to go slowly. I squeeze at the top and then lower the weight under control.”


Standing Alternating Hammer Curl

Target: Biceps, brachialis

Start: Stand with your feet together or shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip (palms facing your thighs). Keep your elbows pinned to your sides.

Action: Curl one dumbbell toward your shoulder. Lower the weight under control and repeat on the other side.

Jessica says: “Use this exercise as a finisher. I keep my arms down by my sides and alternate lifting one arm at a time. Make sure your arm is lowered all the way before you begin curling with the other arm. You want to concentrate your effort on each arm individually.”


Lying Triceps Extension

Target: Triceps

Start: Using an EZ-bar, lie faceup on a bench and extend your arms so you’re holding the bar directly over your chest.

Action: Bend your elbows to lower the weight to just above your forehead. Pause, then press the bar back up to the starting position. Keep your upper arms stationary throughout the movement.

Jessica says: “This is one of the best exercises to work the overall triceps musculature. Make sure your elbows point at the ceiling; you don’t want them to flare out to your sides. Concentrate on making your triceps do all the work.”


Overhead Rope Extension

Target: Triceps

Start: Using a high-pulley cable, grasp a rope handle with a neutral grip and face away from the weight stack. Place one foot far behind the other and lean forward. Begin with your elbows bent so your hands meet behind your head. Keep your abs tight, eyes forward, back straight and upper arms almost parallel to the floor.

Action: Press the rope out and away from you by moving only your forearms, extending your elbows until your arms are roughly parallel to the floor. Squeeze your triceps hard before returning to the start position.

Jessica says: “Keep your elbows close to your head. Don’t let them flare out. Only your forearms should move.”


Rope Pressdown

Target: Triceps

Start: Attach a rope handle to a high-pulley cable. With your knees slightly bent, lean forward a bit at the waist and pin your elbows to your sides as your bring your lower arms just above parallel to the floor. Look forward, keeping your torso erect and your abs tight. This is your starting position.

Action: Flex your triceps and press the handle toward the floor until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze your tri’s and hold for a brief count before returning to the start position.

Jessica says: “Keep your elbows in close to your body. Again, just your forearms should be moving. Squeeze your triceps at the bottom and bring the handle back up slowly.”