Skip to main content
CrossFit® / June 2017
Maureen Quirk, Global Newsroom

Upgrade Your Pump Session With These 5 Arm Exercises

It’s a simple correlation: As temperatures increase, the number of people on the beach rises with it.

With beach days come the inevitable—bathing suits and tank tops. And for many guys, just hearing those mentioned is enough to immediately have them running to the weight room.

One man who’s watched this scenario play out far too many times is eight-time CrossFit Games competitor and gym owner, Ben Smith.

“I live near Virginia Beach so I’m definitely familiar with beach season,” says Smith with a laugh. 

It’s no secret that a lot of guys like to get an extra 'pump' on before they hit the beach. We’ve all seen someone busting out pushups in the sand before.

But not Smith. The former CrossFit Games champ works year-round on getting his body, including his arms, into shape amid his quest to improve his fitness and repeat as the Fittest Man on Earth.

“If you’re really looking to get your arms in shape – shape for not only summer but life as a whole – you should be incorporating extra arm movements into your daily accessory work at the gym all year long, not just sporadically breaking into a pump session minutes before diving into the ocean,” he says. 

So, what arm movements does Smith suggest?  

Before your mind immediately wanders to those tried-and-true curls, think again. Smith is quick to turn this outdated notion on its head, noting that there are actually way more movements out there, and mixing different ones into your routine will add variety to your workouts which is key. 

“Variety helps you develop different skill sets, build different muscles, and keeps your workouts more exciting,” he says. 

For those looking for such variety (or just looking for biceps that rival the size of Smith’s), below, he breaks down five of his go-to arm movements, confident they’ll kick your next beach day pump session up a level.   

1. Plate Pushup Complex


A twist on the standard pushup, position a weighted plate on the ground next to the body. With one hand on the plate and the other on the ground, perform a pushup. In one quick motion, move the grounded hand onto the plate to perform a second pushup. Continue this cycle of moving hands back and forth from the plate to the ground.   

2. Reverse Pullup


At a rig, lower a pullup bar so it hits the body below the hips. Plant heels on the ground in front of the body with toes elevated. Pull the body up into a 45-degree angle; then, lower the body back down to the starting position.

3. Around the World 


Hold the pullup bar like you would for a strict pullup. Rotate legs in a circular, 360-degree motion. Although definitely crushing your midline, the hold on the pullup bar with also smoke your grip, shoulders and upper back.

4. Weighted Bulgarian Split Squat


Arms are great but never skip leg day! Choose a heavy set of dumbbells. With one dumbbell in each hand, plant one leg on the ground while resting the other leg behind you on a bench. Squat down and back up with the legs staying in these positions. The hold on the dumbbells gets extra spicy as the sets and reps pile up — arms, arms, arms.

5. Dumbbell Clean & Press


With that same set of heavy dummbells in hand, stand with legs in line with the shoulders. Perform a clean so the dumbells reach the shoulders. Then, immediately go into a strict press, pressing the arms overhead.

Have a favorite arm movement that's not on Smith's list? Tweet @Reebok to tell us what it is.

CrossFit® / June 2017
Maureen Quirk, Global Newsroom