30 Day Arm Challenge For Beginners

If you’re a runner, or you enjoy walking, biking, or indoor cycling, chances are you have strong legs. But, unless you’re doing dedicated strength training workouts, the strength in your arms and upper body might be lagging behind.

If you’ve been thinking of getting started with a more structured resistance training program to build upper body strength, we invite you to kick off those efforts by joining our 30-day arm challenge for beginners. 

With a commitment of just a few minutes a day, you’ll get started on your journey to stronger arms. The best part? Toned arms not only look great in sleeveless shirts, but they help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and feel better in your body.

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is the 30-Day Arm Challenge For Beginners?
  • What Do I Need for the 30-Day Arms Challenge For Beginners?
  • 30-Day Arm Challenge For Beginners
  • Exercise Instructions for the 30-Day Arm Challenge for Beginners

Let’s commit to this 30-day arm challenge for beginners and get started!

A woman flexing her bicep after completing a 30-day arm challenge.

What Is the 30-Day Arm Challenge For Beginners?

The 30-Day Arm Challenge for beginners is designed to be a motivating, approachable, and effective arm-strengthening daily workout program lasting 30 days. 

Exercises should take roughly 5 minutes or less per day, ensuring even the busiest people can find time to commit and get their workout in.

What Do I Need for the 30-Day Arm Challenge For Beginners?

Depending on your current level of fitness, you’ll need a few dumbbells or items you can use for resistance (such as water bottles). A small resistance loop band is also needed for one exercise.

A close-up of someone holding a dumbbell.

30-Day Arm Challenge for Beginners

30-Day Arm Challenge Printout

(right click the image to save and print this Challenge, or scroll to the end of the article for a text version)

Exercise Instructions for The 30-Day Arm Challenge

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jack exercise.

Jumping jacks are pretty straightforward, but they are a good exercise for shoulder mobility and can strengthen your upper back as well. Move as fast as you can while still completing the full range of motion.

  1. Stand upright with good posture and your arms down at your sides.
  2. Jump your legs out to each side while you simultaneously bring your arms up overhead towards one another.
  3. Jump everything back to the starting position and repeat.

Reverse Lunge and Overhead Press

A person doing an overhead press.

This is a unilateral exercise, which means that you’ll not only strengthen your shoulders (deltoids), glutes, quads, traps, and lats, but you’ll also engage your core and challenge your balance and coordination.

Start with a lighter weight or just a water bottle in your hand until you master the form and coordination, and then increase to a weight you can still handle while maintaining proper form.

  1. Stand upright with good posture, holding a weight (dumbbell or heavy object) at shoulder height on your right side.
  2. Step your right leg backward and lower into a reverse lunge, bending both knees to 90 degrees.
  3. As you rise back up and step back to your starting position, press the weight straight up into an overhead press. Be sure to keep your spine straight and your core tight.
  4. Complete all reps on one side and then switch.

Push-Ups

A person doing a push up.

This staple bodyweight exercise is perfect for any 30-day arm challenge because it’s one of the best ways to monitor your progress and see how much stronger your arms get. Push-ups strengthen your chest, triceps, shoulders, traps, and core. Be sure to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body. 

  1. Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet on the floor with your toes curled under, contacting the ground behind you. At the start of the 30-day arm challenge, you can perform them from your knees.
  2. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to just above the ground and then push through your palms to raise your body back up until your elbows are extended but not fully locked out.

Push-Up Position Rows

A person doing a push up row.

This challenging move works your core, shoulders, and lats.

  1. Get in a push-up position (from your feet or knees) with each hand on a dumbbell.
  2. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Shift your weight to your left hand and feet while you lift your right arm and row the dumbbell up, squeezing your lats (upper back) and bending your elbow.
  4. Lower the weight back down.
  5. Alternate sides between reps.

Sprinter’s Arm Swings

A person doing arm swings.
  1. Holding a light dumbbell or water bottle in each hand, rapidly pump your arms in an exaggerated running motion (as if sprinting to the finish of a 100m dash) as vigorously as possible.
  2. Keep your core tight and stagger one foot in front of the other for balance if it’s more comfortable.

Up-Down Planks

A person doing an up-down plank.

In addition to working your core, the up-down plank also requires the shoulders, chest, triceps, rhomboids, and traps. Really press through your hands to activate your triceps and get the sculpted arms you’re working towards.

  1. Start in a plank position with your elbows and forearms on the ground.
  2. Shift your weight off of one of your forearms so that you can lift that arm off the ground and place your palm flat on the floor.
  3. Press through that hand to straighten your elbow and then repeat on the other side so that you are in a push-up position. Your hands should be positioned directly underneath your shoulders.
  4. Lower back down onto your elbows with control, one side at a time.

Keep repeating this pattern, switching the arm that is pushing up to the top position every time, keeping your hips as stable as possible without much side-to-side motion by engaging your core and glutes.

Triceps Dips Straight Legs

A person doing straight-legged tricep dips.

Dips strengthen the chest, back, triceps, shoulders, and core. Maintaining proper form is key to preventing shoulder irritation. At first, start with your knees bent and as you progress through this 30-day arm challenge and get stronger, you will advance to keeping your legs straight. 

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair, couch, or a bed with your hands cupping the edge of the chair on either side of your hips.
  2. Straighten your legs out in front of you so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor and your feet are flat on the ground. (For the straight leg modification, the back of your heels should rest on the ground). 
  3. Lift your butt off the chair, shifting your weight fully into your palms and heels.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your hips so that they are just above the floor but not touching it. Your hands should be behind you on the chair.
  5. Press through your palms, using your triceps and chest, to lift your body up.

Triceps Dips Bent Legs

A person doing tricep dips with bent knees.

Arm Circles

A person doing arm circles.

You might remember arm circles from elementary school PE class. They get tiring! Keep your arms straight, core tight, and circle!  

Side Lunges With Bicep Curls

A person doing side lunges with bicep curls.

Just standing up and doing curls can be rather boring, and why not get your whole body involved? In this complex exercise, you’ll work your hips, quads, glutes, and adductors in addition to your biceps.  

  1. Stand upright, holding a dumbbell, other weight, or water bottle in your left hand.
  2. Step your right leg out to the side, shifting your weight towards that side as you bend the right knee. Keep your left knee straight.
  3. As you shift your weight onto that right leg, take the dumbbell and curl it across your body by bending your elbow and contracting your bicep.
  4. Engage your glutes to press back up into a standing position as you straighten your arm and lower the weight back down.
  5. Complete all reps and then switch sides.

Shoulder Clocks (Wall and Plank Position)

A person doing shoulder clocks in a plank position with a resistance band.

This is a great exercise to build core and shoulder strength. At the beginning of the 30-day arm challenge, you’ll perform the exercise against a wall by leaning into the wall (as if preparing to do wall push-ups). You’ll graduate to performing the exercise on the floor in a full push-up position.

  1. Get into a push-up position (leaning against a wall or with your hands and feet on the floor) with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and a loop resistance band around your wrists. There should be a fair amount of tension on the band in this starting position.
  2. While keeping your body in a straight line from your head to your heels (keep your hips down and in line with your body), step your right hand as far out to the side (3:00 position on a clock) as possible and then back in again. 
  3. Cycle between 3:00, as well as 1:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 5:00 for the right hand.
  4. Switch and step your left hand out to 9:00. 
  5. Follow up with 11:00, 10:00, 8:00, and 7:00, continuously cycling through for the duration of your set.

High Plank and High Plank With Shoulder Taps

A person doing a high plank with shoulder taps.

High plank is a good exercise for your shoulders, abs, and obliques. As your arms get stronger over the course of this 30-day arm challenge, you’ll add a shoulder tap modification, which makes the exercise even harder on your core and shoulders. 

  1. Get in a push-up position with your body in a straight line from your heels to your head.
  2. Your hands should be in line with your elbows under your shoulders.
  3. Keep your core tight throughout the hold.
  4. Once you are ready to progress to adding shoulder taps, without raising your butt into the air, lift one arm up and reach across to tap the opposite shoulder, and then return to the starting position. Keep your legs locked, and don’t allow any swaying from side to side as you switch arms.
  5. Alternate arms between reps.

Now that you have all of the instructions, are you ready to commit to our 30-day arm challenge? You’ve got this!

If you are looking for more challenges, check these out!

The 75 Hard Challenge

Running A Mile A Day

Two people in the gym working out their arms.
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
20 jumping jacks
+
30 seconds high plank
15 kneeling push-ups30 seconds punches
12 reverse lunges with an overhead press per side
30 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
12 side lunges and curl to the right
+
30 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
12 side lunges and curl to the left
30 seconds forward arm circles
+
30 seconds reverse arm circles
+
Kneeling push-up position rows 8 per side
20 Bent Knee Tricep DipsWall shoulder clocks 30 seconds per side
30 jumping jacks
+
45 seconds high plank
25 kneeling push-ups2 sets of 30 seconds punches
12 reverse lunges with an overhead press per side
2 sets of 30 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
12 side lunges and curl to the right
+
30 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
12 side lunges and curl to the left
2 sets of 30 seconds forward arm circles
+
30 seconds reverse arm circles
+
Kneeling push-up position rows 10 per side
2 x 20 Bent Knee Tricep Dips
(90 seconds between sets)
Wall shoulder clocks
2 x 30 seconds per side
40 jumping jacks
+
30 seconds high plank with shoulder taps
5 full push-ups
+
25 kneeling push-ups
2 sets of 60 seconds punches
15 reverse lunges with an overhead press per side
2 sets of 60 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
15 side lunges and curl to the right
+
60 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
15 side lunges and curl to the left
60 seconds forward arm circles
+
60 seconds reverse arm circles
+
Full push-up position rows 8 per side
20 Straight Leg Tricep DipsPush-up position shoulder clocks 30 seconds per side
50 jumping jacks
+
45 seconds high plank with shoulder taps
10 full push-ups
+
30 seconds rest
+
25 kneeling push-ups
3 sets of 60 seconds punches
+
15 reverse lunges with an overhead press per side
3 sets of 60 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
15 side lunges and curl to the right
+
60 seconds sprinter’s arm swings
+
15 side lunges and curl to the left
2 sets of 60 seconds forward arm circles
+
60 seconds reverse arm circles
+
Full push-up position rows 10 per side
2 x 20 Straight Leg Tricep Dips
(90 seconds between sets)
Push-up position shoulder clocks 2 x 30 seconds per side
2 sets of 50 jumping jacks 
+
45 seconds of high plank with shoulder taps
15 full push-ups
60 seconds punches
15 squat with overhead press
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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