A 5-minute arm workout that will light up your biceps and triceps

With everything on your to-do list, adding exercise to your already busy schedule can seem next to impossible. That’s where this 5-minute arm workout comes in handy!

There are tons of reasons to pay attention to your arms, even if you only have a few minutes to do so. On the one hand, strong arms help you perform daily movements more easily. Whether you’re holding static positions like carrying a baby, which work your biceps (the muscles in the front of your arm) or performing moves like pushing a heavy door (which use your triceps or the muscles in the back your upper arm), your arm muscles work every day, ACE certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. They do this by flexing at your elbow (like when you bring a fork to your mouth while eating or doing a bicep curl during your workout) or by extension (like when you bend over to tie your shoelaces or perform a tricep kickback).

One important thing to keep in mind if you’re looking for a quick arm workout: you want to focus on those two muscles, your biceps and triceps, in particular. Often, Fagan says, her clients will say they feel movement in their arms, but instead point to the muscles in their shoulders.

One good thing about arm workouts is that they don’t have to be very long, as shown in this 5-minute arm workout Fagan created for SELF below. It all comes down to programming: and that’s why Fagan used supersets to do it all.

The superset, or performing two exercises in a row followed by a short rest or no rest, is a very time-efficient strategy that’s perfect for those days when you barely have time to exercise. In this workout created by Fagan, you’ll layer moves that work your biceps with ones that hit your triceps.

“It’s convenient to go back to back, because you’re working the antagonist muscle groups, or the opposing muscle group,” she says. This means that you won’t put too much strain on one muscle group, since the opposite muscle is resting while the other is working.

You can use this workout as a standalone routine when you’re short on time, or as an added finisher to a longer workout. For example, you can do this after an upper body workout with compound movements such as push-ups, rows, or overhead presses to really exhaust your arm muscles, as your biceps and triceps will also be working in these larger movements. . You can also do this 5-minute arm workout after leg day or a cardio session to work your upper body. This is a great way to ensure that your muscles will be less fatigued when hitting your arms.

If you really want to focus on your arms in your workout routine, you can do this bicep and tricep workout three times a week, adds Fagan. Remember, the more frequently you hit these muscles, the greater the stimulus or muscle growth. (You should still take at least 24 hours between sessions, though, to ensure your muscles are properly recovered!)

Are your muscles telling you they’re ready to try this workout for biceps and triceps? Listen carefully. Yes? So here’s what you need to get started!


What you will need: A pair of lightweight dumbbells. Since you’ll be working the same muscle with little to no rest between exercises, you may want to go for a lighter weight than you would normally use. Although the weight will vary depending on your experience and fitness level, 5-8 pounds can be a good starting range. (Here are some great dumbbells to add to your gear rack!)


Superset 1

  • Hammer bicep curl
  • Skullcrusher

Superset 2

  • Bicep curls
  • Triceps bounce


  • For Superset 1, perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Try not to rest between movements. Repeat for two rounds in total. Rest 1 minute after the end of the two rounds.
  • For Superset 2, perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Try not to rest between movements. Repeat for two rounds in total.

Demonstration of the movements below are Gail Barranda Rivas (GIF 1), Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Functional Strength Coach, Pilates and Yoga Instructor, and National and International Fitness Presenter; Rachel Dennis (GIF 2), a weightlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York State powerlifting records; and Cookie Janee (GIF 3 and 4), background investigator and specialist in security forces in the Air Force Reserve.

Martin E. Berry