These Exercise Hacks Will Produce Super Toned Arms With Or Without Dumbbells

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Written by Penny Cooper

That big night is coming up. It’s easy to put on a great dress and do your hair, but how do you get yourself looking buff without spending hours at the gym?

These exercise hacks are here to help you get the toned arms you’ve been dreaming of.

It’s so easy to add tiny changes into your life so you can tone your arms.

Our top 5 exercise hacks for toned arms include:

  1. Grocery lifts—biceps.
  2. Desk exercises—wrists and forearms.
  3. Couch is the new Bowflex—triceps.
  4. Dance the night away—all over arm toning.
  5. Our only dumbbell (or any weight) exercise—triceps and side.

5 Ways To Toned Arms

You might never notice that your arms are looking less than their best until putting on a favorite arm-displaying outfit, and there’s nothing that can be done.

But taking the time to hit the gym every day just might not work with your schedule. Use these hacks to add extra oomph to everyday chores and give you super-toned arms with or without dumbbells.

1. Grocery lifts for the biceps

If you’re anything like me, grocery shopping for fun foods is just so exciting. Less fun comes when I get home to put them away. But your food chore can be an easy way to tone your arms.

When you bring in the bags, treat them like dumbbells (just not the bag with your eggs in it.) Hold your hands at your sides, and lift from bags while you bend at the elbow.

These aren’t exercises where you want to swing wildly. Number one, groceries are heavy and can fly out of the bag. Please don’t injure yourself. As with most workouts, doing slow, controlled movements will garner better results.

When you put each item away, give it a little lift or pump, so you get a little extra workout while doing the ordinary task.

2. Desk exercises

Hacks to toned arms continue in the workplace. If you don’t have a lot of space, you only need ONE easy piece of workout equipment. Resistance band exercises for flabby arms will tighten and tone while you’re at work.

Are you on a conference call with Tusla, and they will just not stop talking? Put your phone on speaker and the resistance band under your foot. With a bit of resistance in the band, twist your hand gently from side to side. Then do some reps like you were working with dumbbells.

Finally, hold the band with both hands in front of you and pull. As you get stronger, you can hold the band to make the resistance even harder. Resistance training can improve muscle tone quickly and efficiently while you’re working at a stuffy office.

3. Couches are the New Bowflex

We’re binging! My favorite new show has a second season, and I’m ready for a Full Season Saturday. But, I can’t let another whole day go by without a workout.

Use your couch as workout equipment. It’s easy to do tricep dips as one of your 5 ways to toned arms. Sit on the very edge of the couch and get a firm grip on the edge. Slide your butt out and slowly lower your body. Pump up and down to get sexy, toned arms.

Using a chair works too. Just make sure it’s stable and strong enough to resist the variable pressure of your workout.

You can also use the arm and back of the couch to do some angled-push ups. Since you’re not horizontal on the ground, it will be much easier to do if you’re not starting in the best of shape. Varying the width of your palms can help increase the effectiveness.

4. Dance The Night Away

Ok. Couch exercises are done. But you’re on episode 5, and there’s half a season to go. Bodyweight resistance training is great, but let’s add some cardio.

Dance fitness is a great way to stay in shape. Studies have shown that older people who add dance into their fitness routine have better muscle tone and reaction times. Since you’re looking to tone your arms, try a dance that’s all about arms.

Hula, belly dance, beginner ballet, and even tai chi (not quite a dance, but flowing movements all the same) are great for the arms. You can even add resistance band exercises for flabby arms to the dance. Keep binging that show and throw a video on your phone. Stand up and get moving! See, I said this would be fun.

5. Our Only Dumbbell Exercise

The last hack is my favorite of 5 ways to get those arms toned. It’s a single-arm dumbbell overhead extension. Now, that may sound complicated, but I swear it’s not.

The best thing about this exercise is its versatility. Sure, you can do it with or without dumbbells in a gym. But with everything we’ve learned so far, you know that a dumbbell doesn’t have to be a dumbbell. I’ve done this exercise while waiting for the microwave to go ping using a can of soda or veggies.

I even tried to do it with a gallon of milk, but that was way too heavy. Start with a lightweight—this exercise targets muscles that you don’t normally use, so don’t feel embarrassed if you’re only lifting 2 or 3 pounds. Stand, or sit, nice and straight, and reach your arm up in the air.

Support your core with your other hand, and drop your arm from the elbow so that the weight ends up behind your head. Your free hand can add support to the active arm and you’ll be able to manage a heavier bottle.

Carefully lift and release a few times and then rest. Do another set after you have had time to rest for a minute.

I find doing the exercise more difficult whilst standing so have to come down a bit in weight. The muscles of the back and sides are activated too so be careful not to strain.

Bonus Hack

If you’re trying to follow the 5 ways to toned arms in preparation for a big night, you might want some extra help. Short of going to a med spa and getting some fancy injections or going under the knife, what else can you do?

I love coffee! Sure, I drink it in the morning but save those grounds for later. Mix ½ fresh coffee grounds with ½ the grounds from the morning, add in a few splashes of coconut oil, and your favorite scents. Use this to scrub your upper arms.

Studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can help to tighten skin, decrease cellulite, and stimulate hair growth (but that’s a whole other article.)

You will feel soft and moisturized. Best of all, caffeine may help to improve the elasticity of your skin. You’ve been working so hard to find easy ways to tone your arms, using a scrub like this will help to improve your results.


Toning is easy when you use your “everyday living” as a workout.

You can tone your arms by using items around the house and simple resistance band exercises for flabby arms.

Arms can start to feel more firm in just a couple of weeks—just add one or more of these 5 ways to toned arms into your routine throughout the day. Two or three of these hacks a day will yield better and faster results.

You’ll look leaner and you will feel stronger.

Photo of author
Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. She gained a BA in English at Edinburgh University. Redundancy from retail management hastened a move to helping people get fit and writing about all things fitness in middle age.

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