Arm Exercises

Arm exercises – Preparation, stretch & relax


  • Before starting any exercise programme check with your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, have high blood pressure, joint problems, back problems, if you are very overweight, have a serious illness, or are convalescing.
  • Check out location and surfaces before performing any exercises in your home or out in the garden.
  • Check that surfaces are not wet or slippery
  • Make sure you are warm enough, wear layered loose clothing, which can be discarded as you hot up!
  • Ensure that the supports and equipment you use are strong enough to take your weight.
  • Don’t exercise until at least an hour after meals, and keep drinking water near at hand to avoid becoming dehydrated
  • Take a daily brisk walk for at least half an hour each day.
  • Or take half an hour of moderate physical activity five times a week
  • Make exercise a natural part of everyday life and take the opportunity to be generally more active, anytime, anywhere
  • Learn to breathe deeply in order to encourage oxygen intake and lung elasticity
  • Stretch out your muscles before and after an exercise session or physical activity
  • Remember “if you don’t use it you may lose it” applies to both your body and mind.


To release tension and mobilise the shoulders simply place your fingertips on your shoulders.   Bring your elbows together in front of you, take them up and back pulling your shoulder blades together and drawing imaginary circles with your elbows.

6 times clockwise and 6 times anti-clockwise.

Chest stretch

Sit or stand to stretch out your chest.   Take both arms behind you and place your hands on your bottom.   Pull back your shoulders and elbows.   Lift up your rib cage and feel the stretch across your chest.

Hold for 10 seconds


Clasp both arms behind and lift up.

Hold for 10 secs.

Shoulder stretch

This stretch is more difficult – take care.   (It will also help strengthen your arms and wrists)   Sit on the floor, knees bent with feet apart and flat on the floor.   Place your hands slightly behind your bottom, shoulder width apart, fingers facing forward.   Carefully lift up your bottom and transfer your body weight onto your hands.   Push your chest forward.

Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.

Triceps stretch

Sit or stand to stretch out the triceps muscle (back of your upper arm).   Take your right arm up, bend your elbow and place your right hand behind your head on your middle upper back.  Take your left hand across your chest and push back your right upper arm and shoulder as far as possible.

Hold for 8 seconds.   Repeat with the left arm.

. Side reach

Sit or stand with feet apart.   With your right hand reach up and over your head (relax left knee if standing).   Bring arm down and reach up and over with left hand (relaxing right knee) as if climbing a rope.

Hold for 10 secs each side.

Forearm stretch

Lean forward with hands shoulder width apart.  Place hands flat on an upright support with fingers facing out away from you.  Take your body weight on your hands.

Hold for 20 secs.

Relax and turn fingers inwards.

Lean forwards take weight on hands for 20secs.   Relax.


Arms are prone to flabbiness as the years advance, and especially if you have had a dramatic weight loss through dieting


Stand or sit.   Raise arms up to shoulder level with fingertips touching, palms down and elbows bent.   Push back shoulders back – expand chest, twice with strong firm movement.

Open arms wide and fling back twice (keep palms down)  – working upper back, shoulders and expanding chest.

Bend elbows again – and push back twice.

Fling open arms turning palms uppermost – and push back twice.

Repeat routine 6 times.

Push ups

Stand or sit.   Raise arms up to shoulder level.   Bend elbows and grasp both wrists firmly.   With short, firm movements “push up” imaginary cuffs from each wrist.   Feel the chest muscle jump and underarm muscle work.

Repeat 12 times.

The big muscles in the front of your upper arms, the biceps must be kept strong in order to perform everyday upper body activities such as lifting and carrying.


To strengthen and shape simply sit on an upright chair (without arms) with your feet flat on the floor – knees at right angles.   Tuck your elbows tightly into your waist.    Keep position throughout the exercise.    Imagine you are lifting heavy weights, rise up your lower arms, fists to shoulders, and lower back down 12 times.

Make it harder by using hand weights, or small plastic drinks bottles filled with water or sand.

The triceps muscles at the back of the arms work with the biceps muscles in the front of the arms to produce strength and movement


Exercise them by sitting as before, but incline your upper body and head slightly forward.    Pull in your tummy to maintain a good position and make a fist or use weights.      With elbows bent, pull shoulders together and take your upper arms back and up.    Hold them still in this position throughout exercise.    Straighten out and push down your lower arms, turning fists out at the same time.  (Don’t “lock” the elbows.)  Keep upper arms in position – bend your elbows and bring your fists or weights, back up to your shoulders 12 times.   Feel the back of your upper arm working!

  • Side lifts
  • Top lifts


  • Lift off

To strengthen your wrists and arms, sit forward in an armchair.   Extend your legs straight out in front with heels to the ground and toes upwards.   Place your hands, with fingers facing forward, flat onto the arms of the chair.   Incline your chest forward (this corrects your centre of gravity) and lift your bottom off the seat.   Take your body weight on your hands.

Keep your legs straight and continue to lift and lower back down 12 times.   (If this is too difficult to start with, sit back into chair, and with bent knees repeat lifting and lowering, until your wrists become stronger.)

  • Palm press

To strengthen wrists, arms and shoulders.   Sit or stand, bend your elbows and bring arms up to shoulder level, palms together in prayer position.   Keep fingertips touching and open out palms of hands.  Close palms by pushing wrists together hard.

Continue opening and closing 12 times.

  • Palm squeeze

Sit or stand to strengthen your wrists and keep your fingers supple.   Holding two tennis/soft balls, tuck your elbows into your waist with lower arms out in front, and palms uppermost.   Keep your arms and wrists still.

Squeeze and release the balls 12 times, as tightly as possible.

  • Wind up

To strengthen wrists, sit or stand.   For this exercise you will need a stick or ruler (approx 1 inch thick).   Tie a piece of string 2 – 3 feet long securely in the middle of it.   Attach a small heavy object (a small plastic mineral bottle will do) to the end of the string.   Hold the stick at both ends with palms of hands facing downwards.   Wind up the string with a twisting action.   Reverse the action by holding the stick palms upwards and with control unwind.

Repeat 4 times.

  • Push away

To strengthen wrists and arms, stand at least a foot away from a wall with outstretched arms.  Have your feet apart and arms at shoulder level with hands flat on wall and fingers inclined inwards. Pull in your tummy, keep your head, neck and back straight, bend your elbows out and lower yourself towards the wall.   Take your body weight on your wrists and hands.

If possible keep your heels down; you can stretch out your calf muscles at the same time!   (Don’t allow your body to sag).

Push back upright and repeat 12 times.

  • Towel up

For arms and wrists stand with feet apart.   Hold both ends of a small towel and make it taut in front of you at shoulder level.   Lift it up and take the towel over and behind your head.   Return it up and over, pull hard at both ends to keep the towel taut.

Repeat 6 times.

Hold one end of a small towel with your right hand.   Drop the other end down behind your back.   Reach behind you with your left hand and grasp the other end of the towel.   Pull the towel taut, extend your right hand up high and pull the towel down again with your left hand with a sawing motion.

Repeat 6 times.   Reverse hands and repeat movement 6 times.


  • Pull away

Stand with feet apart, feet away from a secure kitchen unit or banisters, to stretch out your arms, shoulders and spine.   Bend forward from the waist and hold on securely with both hands.   Keep your legs straight, drop your head down, flatten out your back, take the weight on your arms and shoulders.

Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.

  • Pull up

From the same position bend your elbows and pull yourself up.   Step forward with your right foot and bring your left to join it.   Incline your hips towards the support and raise and stretch up as high as possible onto your toes.   If you feel balanced raise your arms and stretch your hands up to the ceiling.

Hold the stretch for 10 secs before lowering heels and arms down.

Heel raises correct the body’s centre of gravity and improve balance

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