It’s tough to hurt your arms in the gym unless you drop a dumbbell on them. After all, your arms are mostly along for the ride for many lifts. When it comes down to it, big movements are often powered primarily by the shoulders, legs, back, chest, midsection — you get the idea.

Still, the arms remain a focal point for many guys forever in search of sleeve-bursting biceps and triceps and Popeye forearms. That’s why countless hours are spent on arm isolation exercises that, while not especially dangerous, are not particularly efficient either.

Not only that, some bicep and tricep moves place undue strain on the shoulders and elbows, which can cause injuries to those areas and also contribute to ailments elsewhere along the kinetic chain.

In the interest of greater efficiency and avoiding injury, here are seven moves to avoid in your arm workouts and seven better options to substitute.

Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.

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