Photos by Paul Buceta
Routine by Natalie Contorno, CPT, Nutrition Specialist & Group Fitness Instructor

Biceps and triceps are a perfect pairing. They are both smaller muscles, respond well to isolation exercises, and are antagonistic muscle groups, meaning that while one is working, the other is relaxed. Since neither require much rest between sets, biceps and triceps are ideally suited to be worked together with simple exercises and minimal equipment. Executed correctly, a good arms routine can be quick, effective, and intense. 

This workout includes timed sets and supersets. While they are completely different intensity techniques, when done correctly, both help to reduce time spent in the gym while increasing heart rate and calorie burn at the same time.

Grab a light, or medium set of dumbbells (or even soup cans or wine bottles!) and perform this workout 2-3 times per week.

How to:

Circuit 1 (timed sets): Perform each of the first three moves for 40 seconds before moving to the next one. Once you’ve completed all three exercises, rest for 30 seconds. That’s one set. Complete three sets before moving to Circuit 2. 

Circuit 2 (supersets): Perform the final two moves back to back for the number of prescribed reps, then rest for 30 seconds. That’s one set. Complete as many sets as you can in six minutes.

Circuit 1

Wide Curl

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells at your sides, wider than your hips, with palms facing up (A). Bend at the elbows and lift weights towards your shoulders (B). Lower the weights to the starting position and repeat.


Position yourself with your knees bent and both palms just behind your glutes, glutes raised off the floor (A). Bend your elbows and lower your body downwards until your butt almost touches the floor (B), then press back up, controlling the movements with your triceps. Return to start position and repeat.

Modification: For a more advanced version, keep your legs straight.

In-and-Out Biceps Curl 

Stand holding dumbbells with palms up, elbows tucked into your sides (A). Curl the weights straight up towards your shoulders (B). Lower the weights to the starting position (C), then raise them again, this time holding them out and at a 45 angle from your body (D). Continue alternating curls from standard to wide for all reps.

Circuit 2

Triceps Kickback

Reps: 20
From a standing position, hinge from the hips and lower your upper body to 45 degrees. Bend your elbows to create a 90 degree angle with your arms (A). Extend both arms, raising the weights behind you, squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement (B). Return to the starting position and repeat.

Plank with Alternating Biceps Curl

Reps: 12-15 (each side)
Get into plank position with dumbbells in each hand (or on the floor near your hands) (A). While holding the plank, lift one weight and perform a bicep curl (B). Lower and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating for all reps.

 For increased balance, place your feet farther apart.

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