May 20, 2022

A 5-Minute Arms Workout That’ll Light Up Your Biceps and Triceps

Table of Contents The WorkoutExercisesDirections With everything on your to-do list, adding exercise to your…

With everything on your to-do list, adding exercise to your already busy schedule might feel nearly impossible. That’s where this 5-minute arms workout comes in handy!

There are tons of reasons to give your arms some exercise attention, even if you just have a few minutes available to do so. For one, strong arms help you perform everyday movements more easily. Whether you’re holding static positions like carrying a baby—which works your biceps (the muscles in the front of your upper arm)—or performing movements like pushing open a heavy door (which use your triceps, or the muscles in the back of your upper arm), your arm muscles are working on a day-to-day basis, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. They do this through flexion at your elbow (say, when you raise a fork to your mouth while eating or do a biceps curl during your workout) or through extension (like when you reach down to tie your shoelaces or perform a triceps kickback).

One important thing to keep in mind if you’re looking for a quick arms workout: You want to be focusing on those two muscles—your biceps and your triceps—specifically. Many times, Fagan says, her clients will say they feel a move in their arms, but will point to their shoulder muscles instead.

A good thing about arms workouts is that they don’t need to be very long, as this 5-minute arms workout, which Fagan created for SELF, shows below. It all comes down to programming: And that’s why Fagan used supersets to get it all done.

Supersetting, or performing two exercises consecutively followed by a short rest or no rest, is a very time-efficient strategy, which is perfect for days when you barely have any time to devote to exercise. In this workout Fagan created, you’ll be supersetting moves that work your biceps with those that hit your triceps.

“Going back-to-back like this is convenient because you’re working out the antagonist muscle groups, or the opposite muscle group,” she says. That means you won’t be over-stressing one muscle group, since the opposing 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 a finisher added onto a longer workout. For instance, you can do this after an upper-body workout with compound movements such as push-ups, rows, or overhead presses to really burn out your arm muscles, since your biceps and triceps will be working in those bigger moves too. You can also do this 5-minute arms workout after leg day or a cardio session to get in some upper-body work—this is a great way to ensure that your muscles will be less fatigued when it’s time to hit your arms.

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

Are your muscles saying that they’re ready to give this biceps and triceps workout a try? Listen closely. Yes? Then here’s what you need to get started!

The Workout

What you’ll need: A pair of light dumbbells. Because you’ll be working the same muscle with little to no rest between exercises, you might want to opt out for a lighter weight than what you would normally use. While the weight will vary depending on your experience and fitness level, 5-8 pounds can be a good starting range. (Here are some great at-home dumbbells to add to your equipment shelf!)


Superset 1

  • Hammer biceps curl
  • Skull-crusher

Superset 2

  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps kickback


  • For Superset 1, perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Try not to rest between moves. Repeat for two total rounds. Rest 1 minute after both rounds are done.
  • For Superset 2, perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Try not to rest between moves. Repeat for two total rounds.

Demoing the moves below are Gail Barranda Rivas (GIF 1), a certified group fitness instructor, functional strength coach, Pilates and yoga instructor, and domestic and international fitness presenter; Rachel Denis (GIF 2), a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York State powerlifting records; and Cookie Janee (GIFs 3 and 4), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve.