30 Day Arm Challenge - arm workout
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30-Day Arm Challenge: Arm Workout to Sculpt Your Best Arms Ever

Having strong arms is more than just looking good. 

Bigger arms are just one piece of a healthy whole body. 

Strong, big arms are functional for everyday activities such as carrying grocery bags, shopping, or picking up children. 

These listed movements can be mimicked by lifting a set of dumbbells which is important as we get older.

Age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia and after the age of 30, you begin to lose 3% to 5% per decade (1).

It’s imperative to start strengthening your muscles as you age. But not only that!

The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn each time you workout.

This and a healthy nutrition plan will rid yourself of pesky, arm fat aka that jiggle of flabby arms.

This 30-day arm challenge is a great way to kick start your fitness or weight loss journey and will work hard to sculpt and strengthen your arms with just 6 moves a few days a week.

All you’ll need is a set of dumbbells. Choose the size depending on your level of fitness. 

The Best 30 Day Arm Challenge

30-day arm challenge

In this challenge, your Monday workout and Wednesday workout are the designated arm days. 

Feel free to rearrange to fit your schedule as long as you’re getting at least 2 days of arms and 2 consecutive days of rest per week.

Check out our other challenges for your leg, cardio, and full-body workout days!

Back to this big arms challenge! 

Each week will get progressively more intense by adding additional reps and sets.

Adjust your dumbbell weight and training volume to your experience level and body’s ability. 

If you’re a frequent gym-goer, use heavy weights. 

If you’re a beginner, start with a lighter weight and adjust as necessary.

Each arm day consists of 3 exercises targeting your upper body and back, biceps, and triceps. 

Your upper body and back is a general term that consists of many different muscles. 

For the purpose of this challenge, your trapezius muscles, pectorals, and deltoids are going to be targeted.

Your biceps brachii is the muscle located on the front side of your upper arm. 

It consists of a short head and a long head that work together as a single muscle. 

It attaches to the arm bones through tendons. 

Flex your right arm. It’s the muscle you see bulging from the front of your upper arm. (2)

Your tris are located on the other side of your bis, the backside of your upper arm.

There are 6 exercises you’ll need to know.

  • Upper Body Exercises: pushups, plank up/downs 
  • Bicep Exercises: biceps curls, hammer curls
  • Triceps Exercises: tricep dips and tricep kick backs 

Each upper body workout exercise is broken down below.

Bonus! While these exercises are targeting your arms, you’ll also be working on other muscle groups such as your abdominals.

The goal of this arms workout is to fatigue your muscles to exhaustion. Remember to maintain proper form. 

If you cannot keep form, do not continue your reps or sets. Rest on more consecutive days if needed.

Onto the arm workout schedule!

30-Day Arm Challenge Workout Schedule

If 30 days feels like too much of a commitment, cut this schedule in half for a 15-day arm workout challenge or any set period of time that works for you.

For the session structure, take a one-minute break between sets and the next exercise. 

Keep a controlled tempo. Consider drop sets if you’re an advanced lifter.

Note: these exercises may not be for everybody, especially if you’re dealing with an injury. 

Also provided are variations and alternative exercises to find a routine best for you.

*Consult a qualified healthcare professional before starting a 30-day arm workout.

Week 1

Monday: Arms Day (10 Reps X 2 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Pushups
  • Biceps: Biceps Curl
  • Triceps: Triceps Dip
  • Tuesday: Leg Day

Wednesday: Arms Day (10 Reps X 2 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Plank Up/Down
  • Biceps: Hammer Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Kick Backs
  • Thursday: Full-Body Workout
  • Friday: Cardio

Saturday & Sunday: Rest day

Week 2

Monday: Arms Day (10 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Pushups
  • Biceps: Bicep Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Dip
  • Tuesday: Leg Day

Wednesday: Arms Day (10 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Plank Up/Down
  • Biceps: Hammer Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Kick Backs
  • Thursday: Full-Body Workout
  • Friday: Cardio

Saturday & Sunday: Rest

Week 3

Monday: Arms Day (12 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Pushups
  • Biceps: Biceps Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Dip
  • Tuesday: Leg Day

Wednesday: Arms Day (12 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Plank Up/Downs
  • Biceps: Hammer Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Kick Backs
  • Thursday: Full-Body Workout
  • Friday: Cardio

Saturday & Sunday: Rest

Week 4

Monday: Arms Day (15 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Pushups
  • Biceps: Biceps Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Dip
  • Tuesday: Leg Day

Wednesday: Arms Day (15 Reps X 3 sets, rest 60sec)

  • Upper Body and Back: Plank Up/Downs
  • Biceps: Hammer Curl
  • Triceps: Tricep Kick Backs
  • Thursday: Full-Body Workout
  • Friday: Cardio

Saturday & Sunday: Rest

Arm Exercises In this Workout Challenge

30-day workout challenge

Push-Ups

Pushups are a great bodyweight exercise that works your upper body. These include: (3)

  • Chest muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor)
  • Shoulder muscles (deltoid major and minor)
  • Upper and middle back muscles (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Serratus Anterior

Bonus: they also work your lower body back muscles, abdominals, gluteus maximus, and minimus, and your leg muscles, specifically your hamstrings, quadriceps, calf, and shin muscles.

It’s virtually a full-body exercise!

How to Perform the Pushup:

  • Begin in a high plank position with straight arms, hands under your shoulders. 
  • Tuck the pelvis and keep your head, shoulder blades, and neck in a neutral position.
  • Engage your core and glutes. There should be a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
  • Slowly lower your body to the ground until the front of your chest is hovering just above.
  • Keep your elbows in and at a 45-degree angle. Hold. Then press the ground away back to the initial position.

Variations: keep your knees on the ground for a low-impact version, perform against a wall or try close-grip pushups.

Plank Up/Down

The Plank Up/Down is another great bodyweight exercise that targets not just your upper body but your entire body.

Like the push-up, it targets all of the muscles listed above. 

It’s a similar movement and is all about control moving from a pushup position to planks on your forearms.

How to Perform the Plank Up/Down:

  • Again, begin in the pushup position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your feet hip-width distance apart.
  • Lift your right hand, bend at the elbow into a 90-degree angle and place your forearm onto the mat. Follow with your left side.
  • Then, reverse. Lift your left arm and place your left hand directly under your shoulder. Follow with your right side bending the right elbow first.
  • This is 1 rep. Repeat, starting with the left hand this time.

Variation: keep your knees on the mat throughout the movement for the low-impact version.

The plank sidewalk with a consistent side-to-side tempo is an effective exercise to substitute. 

Lead with the right leg and right hand. Follow with the left leg and the left hand. Return to start.

Biceps Curls

This bicep exercise is a great functional move that not only works the front of your upper arms (obviously) but a few muscles in the lower half of your arms such as your brachialis and brachioradialis (4).

Choose a weight appropriate for your body. 

You can use a barbell with weights(try a shoulder-width grip), Ez bar, hand weights, or dumbbells.

Master the motion before adding weight. Avoid using momentum or going too fast. 

Take your time with your curl reps. Consider trying the cable bicep curl to master the motion.

How to Perform the Bicep Dumbbell Curl:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width distance apart, a slight bend in your knees. Engage your abdominals.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand of even weight. Relax your arms by your sides, palms in.
  • On an exhale, bend at your elbows, lifting the weights towards shoulder height. Keep your elbows close to your ribs. 
  • Squeeze at the top of the rep. Inhale. Lower back to the starting position.
  • Repeat curl reps.

Variations: perform seated, one side at a time, preacher curls or eccentric curl reps.

Hammer Curl

The hammer curl is very similar to the biceps curl but with a twist, literally. Instead of palms in, you’ll turn your palms up.

This exercise also targets your biceps but puts more emphasis on your brachialis and brachioradialis.

How to Perform the Hammer Curl:

  • Stand tall with a neutral posture and your feet hip-width distance apart. 
  • Hold equal weights in both hands, palms facing up by your thighs.
  • Engage your core as you lift the weights toward your shoulders. 
  • Squeeze your biceps at the top of the rep and with control, lower the weights back to the starting position.

Variations: try seated, one arm at a time, with a straight-bar handle barbell, twist hammer curls, or half-iso hammer curl reps.

Tricep Dips

Triceps Dips are another full-body compound exercise with many variations to hit the muscles on the back of your upper arm. (5)

This targets not only the back of your arm but your chest, shoulders, back, and abdominals.

You can perform these on parallel bars, with a flat bench or chair. Your grip will be determined by the accessory you are using to perform the exercise.

How to Perform the Tricep Dip:

  • Have a seat on your chair or weight bench. Bend knees. 
  • Walk your feet out so that when you slip your seat off the bench, your knees and thighs are at 90-degree angles, holding yourself up with your hands.
  • Engage your core for stability and slowly lower your seat below the bench until your elbows bend at 90-degree angles.
  • Press upwards through your arms to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.

Variations: use the parallel bars and float your shins parallel to the ground. 

Try a tricep extension with a shoulder-width overhand grip on a padded bar. 

Lastly, while standing in front of a cable machine move through this motion with less resistance.

Tricep Kick Backs

The tricep kickback is a personal favorite of the arm muscle isolation exercises.

This move targets all 3 parts of your triceps: the long head of the triceps, the lateral heads of the triceps, and the medial head as well as your core, rear deltoids, and mid to upper back (6).

Be careful to keep the elbows in and not use momentum through the action. Do not round your back.

Master the proper form on a cable machine before adding dumbbells. 

Cable machines offer different ways to achieve big triceps, try the cable tricep pushdown.

You can also wrap a resistance band around your right foot while holding the other end of the band in your right hand. 

Continue with a controlled manner following the instructions below.

How to Perform the Tricep Kickback:

  • Stand in a neutral position, feet shoulder-width distance apart. 
  • Bend knees slightly. Hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand palms facing into the side of your body. Bend elbows.
  • Hinge forward at the hips until your torso is parallel with the ground, brace (not crunch) your abs.
  • In an arching movement, bring the dumbbells toward your chest, elbows at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Keep your elbows glued to your sides as you extend your arms out behind you. Squeeze your tris at the top position.
  • Return to the bottom position. This is 1 rep.

Variations: use resistance bands instead or perform 1 arm at a time, even number of repetitions on both sides.

Alternatives

For any reason, if any of these simple exercises in this upper body workout do not work for you, the best way to progress is to consider substituting with the following exercises. 

Best exercises to substitute:

  • Triceps Extensions (try an overhand grip tricep extension or an underhand grip!)
  • Bench Press (try an incline bench press or close-grip bench press)
  • X Push-up
  • Kneeling Press
  • Skullcrusher reps or EZ bar skullcrusher
  • Two-step close-grip pushup reps
  • Overhead Press
  • EZ bar Preacher curl
  • Cable triceps press

You can also create your own day arm challenge with the basic outline above for the best arm workouts. 

The Takeaway

Congratulations! You completed the 30-day arm challenge fitness routine.

You put in the hard work with these bodyweight and dumbbell moves and your upper arms must look and feel amazing, good job!

But don’t stop after this arm toning workout. 

Check out our other 30-day workout challenges! Consider a nutrition plan for weight loss.

For similar content, try the push-up challenge or another upper body workout arm challenge!

Leave us a comment below to let us know what challenge you’ll be taking on next. 

Resources

  1. “Preserve Your Muscle Mass.” Harvard Health, 19 Feb. 2016, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass.
  2. DerSarkissian, Carol. “The Biceps (Human Anatomy): Function, Diagram, Conditions, & More.” WebMD, WebMD, 18 May 2019, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/picture-of-the-biceps#2.“
  3. Which Muscles Do Pushups Work?: Pictures and Guide.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323640.
  4. Rogers, Paul. “Build Your Biceps With Dumbbell Curls.” Verywell Fit, 13 Oct. 2020, www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-biceps-arm-curl-3498604.
  5. Jason. “Dips Muscles Worked – What Muscles Are Used in Dips?” Fitness, Health, Values., 18 July 2021, fitnesshealthvalues.com/dips-muscles-worked/.
  6. “Tricep Dumbbell Kickback 101: Form, Benefits and Variations!” 101 | Form, Benefits and Variations!, www.anabolicaliens.com/blog/tricep-dumbbell-kickback.

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