The 20-minute workout: Arm toning and upper-body strength


Don’t neglect this important muscle group (Picture: Getty/

Yes, it’s January. And yes, we are focusing on working out more. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym.

Train smarter, not harder, with this time-efficient 20-minute workout that will help you hit your fitness goals – without taking up too much of your day.

The arms are an often neglected part of the body when it comes to workouts – but upper body strength is really important for overall wellbeing, and to improve your functional movement.

‘It’s so important to dedicate an equal amount of time to all your major muscle groups,’ says Henal Parmar – Trainer at F45 Mill Hill and F45 Soho.

‘These arm exercises are designed to help you perform better at daily activities, like carrying your shopping bags or pushing that lawnmower.’

Ready to get those arms pumping? Try Henal’s workout, which can be done at home or in the gym:

Home arm and upper-body workout

Workout summary

Set 1: 10 reps, 15 sec rest

Set 2: 12 reps, 20 sec rest

Set 3: 8 reps, 10 sec rest

Equipment needed:

A pair of dumbbells (try to use a challenging weight), a mat, chair or elevated surface

Tricep push-up

Keep your elbows tucked in as you lower your body (Picture: F45)

Start in a high plank with shoulders over wrists.

Bending your elbows, lower your chest toward the floor. Your elbows should be pinned to your sides.

Push through your palms back to the start.

Dumbbell lateral raise

Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with them by your sides, with your palms facing your body.

Standing tall, lift the dumbbells out to your side with a slight bend at your elbows, keeping the weights higher than your forearms.

Lift until your arms are parallel to the floor then slowly lower to the start position.

Dumbbell bent over row

Keep your spine straight (Picture: F45)

Stand approximately shoulder-width apart. Hinge forward at the hips at 45-degree angle.

Hold a pair of dumbbells in your arms, resting them at your sides with the palms facing you. 

Pull the dumbbells straight up, toward the sides of your chest.

Lower the weights in a controlled manner to the starting position.

Tricep dips

Sit on the edge of a chair/raised platform with your heels on the floor. Place your hands behind you so that your fingers face forward.

Raise yourself up so that your arms are straight. Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.

Pause for a second, then press back up to the start.

Bicep curl

Slow and controlled (Picture: F45)

Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should rest at your sides and your forearms should extend out in front of your body.

Bring the dumbbells all the way up to your shoulders by bending your elbows.

Reverse the curl slowly and repeat.

Overhead extension

Start by kneeling on the floor. Raise the dumbbells/plate above your head until your arms are stretched out straight. 

Slowly lower the weights back behind your head. 

Once your forearms are parallel to the floor bring the weight back up to the starting position.

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