9 Exercises for Aerial Arms

SillyGrrl.com // 9 Exercises for Aerial Arms

After my last aerial exercise post, Sara requested I write about my arm workout. My main exercise is climbing & holding myself in the air along with P90X cardio 4-5 times a week. I know that most of you don’t have 20 ft ceilings at home, so here are my favorite arm exercises you can do with dumbbells and your own body weight.

Now, I know it’s popular for exercises to be “fun and easy!” and “just 10 minutes a day!” But here’s the thing – you don’t get badass arms (or abs or buns) from an easy workout. You get them from pushing yourself, lifting the max, and sweating like a pig.

So here you go – nine exercises to get toned, buff aerial arms…

SillyGrrl.com // 9 Exercises for Aerial Arms

1. 90 degree press | shoulders: Hold one arm out in front of you, one out to the side, weights facing down. Raise both arms, lower and then switch positions.

2. Bicep curls | biceps: Stand up straight, arms down palms facing forward. Slowly curl one arm at a time up to your chest and back down, alternating arms. You should be using big weights for this one.

3. Tricep dips |triceps: No weights needed. Place your hands behind you on a chair, with knees bent, dip down until your arms are at a 90 degree angle and then, using only your arms, push yourself back up. If you can do more than 10 easily, straight your legs or put your feet up on a chair.

4. Overhead tricep extension | triceps, shoulders: Hold a weight in one hand behind your head, extend your arm straight up and back down.

5. Reverse curl with side press | biceps, shoulders, forearms: Bend your elbows and bring the weights to your shoulders, palms facing out. Press the weights out and then down. Then raise the weights back up and into your shoulders.

6. Tricep Kickback | back, triceps: Bend your knees, hinge at the waist and extend your arms back while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make sure to keep your back straight and move the lower part of your arm while your elbows stay in place.

7. Side push-up | triceps, obliques: Lay on your left side, put your left hand on your right shoulder or rib cage. Place your right hand on the ground in front of your left shoulder. Press with your right hang to lift your torso off the floor, lower down slowly.

8. Push-ups | biceps, shoulders, abs, back: No half push-ups here! Three regular push-ups will benefit you more than 10 on your knees. Add in a push up to your yoga routine when moving from plank to downward dog. Make sure your back is straight and squeeze those abs! Push-ups are the gateway to pull-ups.

9. Pull-ups | triceps, biceps, shoulders: I know you don’t want to hear this, but if you want aerial arms without getting into the air, pull-ups are the way to do it. With hands facing away from you (works your triceps and shoulders), pull-up and then SLOWLY lower down. Repeat the same movement with hands facing toward you, working your biceps. You could even do some straight leg raises while you’re hanging out up there :)

If you can’t pull up at all, jump up and hold as long as you can. If you can do 10 easily then start with straight arms, knees bent hanging below the bar. This is my favorite doorway pull-up bar, but if your house has giant moldings liked mine, this one works great too.

A few more tips

Find the right size weights. If you want to build muscle then you should not be able to do more than 10 reps/set with your weights. The first 5 should be easy-ish and 6-10 should be difficult. If you’re going over 10 reps per set without any issue then you need to up your weight. I usually lift 5 and keep 10 nearby.

To build muscle you need protein Try to eat or drink protein within one hour of working out. I put a scoop of chocolate protein powder + 8oz of almond milk (and sometimes a banana) in my blender and drink that after my workouts. My brother, who is super into Cross Fit & we call Muscle Man, said he drinks chocolate milk after his workouts.

Don’t forget to stretch! My right shoulder becomes very unhappy and sore if I don’t stretch before and after my workouts. I start with arm circles, pull each arm across my chest to get a stretch near my scapula, and then putt each arm behind my head like the overhead tricep extension sans weight and pull on my elbow.

And lastly, adding a little cardio a few times a week will help your new muscles stand out even more!

Click here for more Workin’ Out posts

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  1. says

    Thanks for posting these, and for being honest, it is hard work, there is definitely no easy way into a toned, fit and healthy lifestyle. I have weak little stick arms but I do my best in my weights training so they are at least toned. They do what I need, holding a wacom pen ;)

  2. says

    Loving the straight talk. Working out is hard to add into my work and grad school schedule but hopefully I can try to do one or two of these a day!

  3. says

    Hi, i’m kinda new at your blog and I feel so inspired about your aerial-ness :D. Looking through your pics, feels like you’re really flying :D :D :D i would love to find a aerial class here in TJ (México)
    For sure, I’m going to try these exercises.

  4. says

    I did all of these this morning (excluding pull ups, because I don’t have a bar… yet) and it was such a great workout! I’ll admit to having had a set of free weights for ages and only knowing how to do bicep curls and overhead tricep extensions, so I finally feel like I’m putting them to good use. Your aerial body posts have fast become my favorite workouts!

  5. Kris says

    Hi. I’m considering trying out aerials but have a bit of a concern. It’s going to sound really vain and silly, but will aerial give you really bulky arms? There’s a studio near me, and I wanted to try it out , but was wondering if it would bulk me up. I am pretty small, and although I have decent core strength, I have rather poor upper-body strength. I’m also hyper-mobile, though I could still use some flexibility (I have a desk job) I thought this would be a great workout, but people keep telling me that my arms would get HUGE! I have high hopes that it won’t, since you look AWESOME. But I thought I’d just ask anyway.

    • says

      Hey Kris – Totally relevant question. After doing aerial for a while I’m loving that I have more muscle and am actually working to make my arms bigger. You will gain muscle, mostly in your shoulders and triceps so it’s not entirely obvious unless you really flex. (hence my obsession with building my biceps outside of training) You would really need to train multiple times a week to get huge arms, but if you’re one of those people who gains muscle fast all you have to do is stop and it will start to fade.

  6. says

    Oh man, just reading the instructions made my muscles hurt!
    My problem is definitely arm flab. My body sadly won’t store fat where I want it (hips, butt and boobs) but where I don’t want it (arms, upper abdomen). I do worry this will bulk my arms up so I will have BIG arms thanks to muscle AND fat. And I’m not allowed to lose any weight, so toning becomes a massive balancing act. :(

    • says

      If you want to tone instead of bulk use lighter weights and do 12 – 15 reps. Also stretching after weight training will help keep muscles lean.

  7. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for that, I am so happy I found your blog! I just had my 2nd aerial silks class, and I can’t climb at all… It is frustrating, especially as everybody else in the class (beginners) were able to climb straight away. I am not going to give up, keep going to the classes, and do your exercises to slowly build upper body strenght!

  8. says

    I just thought you should know I printed off all yourpictures/tips to include in my daily workouts for getting an Aerial body! Thank you! You are the best!!! and my very favourite blogger. =) I really do use your works and yoga moves.


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