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Best Arm Workouts for Women on DVD

Kirsten is a freelance writer, workout fiend, and world traveler!

Quick Intermediate & Advanced Arm Workouts

It's harder than you'd think to find good, arm-focused workout videos for women. Many workout DVDs for women are focused on cardio and burning calories. Because of this, they spend a lot of time on large muscles in the legs and thus sadly under-use the arms.

I love Jillian Michaels workout videos, but they leave my legs burning a lot more than my arms. I find that the traditional arm exercises someone like Jillian Michaels uses in her videos—chest flys, headbangers, curls, etc—don't end up working my arm muscles to fatigue with only 5-10 lbs dumbbells. Without a lot of weight or equipment, I want to work the biceps and triceps until they burn! Also, I don't want to spend a lot of time doing it.

I've found that some of the best arm workouts are segments of larger videos, so you can do them separately or as part of the whole video. Here are my picks for top prize, all under 20 minutes.


Brooke Burke: Strength & Conditioning

Advanced 18 Minute Arm Toning


You'll need small dumbbells for Transform Your Body with Brooke Burke - Strengthen & Condition, an 18 minute arm burner featuring Brooke Burke and her trainer, Greg. You do each moves for about one minute, thus stopping at about the time you wonder if your arms will fall off. The moves are fairly traditional, but I found some I'd never done before, and Greg adds "bonuses" where you hold a move or do something a little extra at the end of a particular exercise.

The video is short and focused enough to add after some leg-focused cardio, like running, because most of the moves are strict arm toning (though a few use the legs or butt). The rest of this workout DVD also includes challenging toning segments, including my favorite killer ab workout (as Brooke says, "This is no joke!").

Note: Don't confuse this DVD with Brooke's other workout DVD, Tone & Tighten (discussed below) -- the covers look almost the same.

Brooke is adorable and relatable -- motivating, but no yelling like Jillian. (If you found Brooke kind of flat on Dancing with the Stars, I don't think you'll have that problem here.) I like the dynamic between her and Greg, though some people seem bothered by how they sometimes talk over each other.

Length of Total Workout: 57 minutes (15 min lower body, 16 min abs)

Length of Arm Workout: 18 minutes

Difficulty of Arm Workout: Advanced

Can you just complete the arm workout? Yes, you can do each section separately via the main menu.

Dumbbells: 2-5 lbs dumbbells (I use a 3 lbs for most of it, Brooke uses 2 lbs)

Production Notes: Nothing obtrusive or annoying. Can play the instruction with or without the music.

Breakdown (1 minute per exercise): Slippy w/ Punch, Outside Bicep Curl to Military Press, Lateral Shoulder Raises in Static Plie, Triple Scoops, Chest Flys (kneeling), Burn It Out, Sexy Back (Triceps Kickback), Burn It Out, Salt & Peppers, Walking Forward & Walking Back (in Downdog), Rear Dips, Booty Bonus, Brazilian Twists


Brooke Burke: Tone & Tighten

Intermediate 8 Minute Arm Toning


Transform Your Body with Brooke Burke - Tone & Tighten is an 8-minute, intermediate-level arm workout featuring Brooke Burke and two backup girls. This entire video is much, much easier than the video I review above (Strength & Condition), but if you use heavy enough weights the arm workout can be a little challenge that you have no excuse but to fit in before a shower. These are fairly traditional strength and toning exercises—different kinds of curls, tricep extensions, etc.

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See above for my opinion on Brooke as a trainer and gentle motivator ("You can do anything for one minute!" "These are the golden moments!" "Ouch! You're allowed to say ouch!"). She really explains all of the moves and one of the backup girls completes beginner modifications. It's a good video to do with friends or family when you're at different levels. (The ab workout is harder than the rest of the video but still easier than Strength & Condition.)

Length of Total Workout: 62 minutes (27 minutes lower body with a little upper body, 17 minutes abs)

Length of Arm Workout: 8 minutes

Difficulty of Arm Workout: Beginner-Intermediate (depending on weights, modifications)

Can you just complete the arm workout? Yes, you can do each section separately via the main menu.

Dumbbells: 5-10 lbs dumbbells (Brooke uses 2 lbs, which is far too little)

Production Notes: Nothing obtrusive or annoying (the backup girls are also pretty unobtrusive).

Breakdown: (1 minute per exercise) Shoulders, Serving Biceps, Wide Curl, Newspaper

Triceps Kickback w/ Twist, Triceps Extension

Nooo, not the starburst!

Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled

11 Minute Intermediate Dance Inspired Arm Workout


Because Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled is a dance and barre inspired workout, it's a style of toning I'm not used to -- focusing on very small and precise movements with low weights and high reps. You get some great triceps and biceps work here. Andrea Rogers, the trainer, moves slowly through the exercises for the first few reps to explain them and help you get used to the movement, and then she ups the pace. This is not slow like many barre workouts (the video prides itself on combining cardio and barre). You'll do arabesques, tendus, triceps dips, different kinds of arm circles, chatarunga-ish knee pushups, and reverse plank. There are two backup girls, and one of them does beginner moves while the other does advanced. Andrea does intermediate moves and instructs.

Length of Total Workout: 55 minutes (24 min lower body barre, 10 min core)

Length of Arm Workout: 11 minutes

Difficulty of Arm Workout: Intermediate

Can you just complete the arm workout? Yes, you can do each section separately.

Dumbbells: 1-3 lbs (you need a chair for the barre section, not the arm section)

Production Notes: A kind of enjoy the 80's lit background and coloring. Background music more interesting than the common generic loops of most workout videos.

Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled

Hey, I found your workout video -- you left it in the 80s.

Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast

17 Minute Swan Arms


I admit, I wouldn't think Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast would be my cup of tea (sweat). Instructor Mary Helen Bowers is the antithesis of Jillian Michaels, she even has this soft, high pitched voice like Snow White. Also like Snow White, MHB is pale and probably doesn't yell unless attacked by trees.

The 17 minute arm workout is called "Swan Arms" which uses no weights and graceful, smooth movements to tone. So, high reps, no weight. Small, precise movements. This is not like any other arm workout I've done before. If you just watch the workout, it looks ridiculous. How could waving your arms around like that do anything? But it's painful. I challenge you to keep your arms up. Of all of the DVDs on this page, it's the one with the least amount of cardio. There is no attempt here to increase heart rate -- this is strict toning -- so I can do it on days I'm totally exhausted and wouldn't do a jumping jack if my life depended on it (but swan arms, yes). It is a little repetitive, but challenging enough to keep me interested.

Length of Total Workout: 61 minutes (four 15-20 min segments, one total body (abs and arms mostly), two butt workouts, and the swan arms)

Length of Arm Workout: 17 minutes

Difficulty of Arm Workout: Intermediate - Advanced

Can you just complete the arm workout? Yes, the workouts are all meant to be completed separately.

Dumbbells: Only if you're superman

Production Notes: It's just you and Mary. And some classical music.

Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast

If Zooey Deschanel says she's the real deal, it must be true.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Kirsten Hansen

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