Many people, particularly women, are interested in strengthening their arms without building bulky muscle. Most women want firm well-toned arms, but are afraid to do any sort of workout using weights, as they are afraid they will “bulk up” like men do. There are very easy ways to avoid this, however. Even for men who want to add strength without bulking, following a few simple rules during workouts will yield proportionally much more strength than size.
Pushups are a very good exercise to strengthen your arms. Regardless of your ability level, you can use pushups as part of your workout routine. A regular, military style pushup will effectively strengthen and tone your triceps, biceps, and pectorals, as well as the stabilizing muscles that surround them, without building too much mass. Work out using pushups often. Aim for as many repetitions as possible, and when you can’t do a pushup in good form anymore, go to your knees and do another 5 or 10. Doing a pushup set or two at least 3-4 times per week will teach your muscles to expect it. Rather than build mass, you’ll build strength.
Try a variety of type of pushups. Pushups with your arms spaced farther apart will work your chest muscles more. Moving your hands closer together will place more strain on your triceps, and work them harder.
If you want to strengthen your biceps without building them up too much, try using dumbbells to do bicep curls, but keep the weight at about 60-75% of your max for one repetition, or less. Focus on doing more repetitions rather than on increasing the weight.
Remember to always keep good form while doing any exercise, to avoid injury. Keep in mind that if you’re gaining strength, it is inevitable that you will build some muscle. Focus on low weight, or bodyweight exercises, and high repetitions in order to prevent bulk.