5-Pose Yoga Fix: Stronger Arms

Kelly DiNardo
by Kelly DiNardo
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5-Pose Yoga Fix: Stronger Arms

Spending hours in the gym isn’t the only way to get stronger, sculpted arms. Yoga uses your bodyweight to build upper-body strength, as well as elongate the muscles so you’re long and toned. Try these five poses and variations on familiar postures for amazing arms.


On its own, down dog stretches and strengthens the arms and legs. Add a pushup and you’ve got a killer arm strengthener.

The move: Come into down dog and walk your arms out to mat-width or slightly wider. On an exhale, bend your elbows out to the side as you lower your head to the mat. Inhale and straighten your arms.


Dolphin, which looks like down dog on your forearms, is a total-body posture. It strengthens the shoulders, arms, abs and legs. It also stretches the chest, hamstrings and calves.

The move: Come onto your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your knees directly under your hips. Lower your forearms to the floor, palms facing down. Your palms and elbows are in one straight line and your elbows rest under your shoulders. Actively press your forearms into the ground.

On an exhale, curl your toes under and lift your knees off the ground, pressing your hips toward the sky. Engage the core and continue to press your forearms into the ground. Keep your head between your arms, avoid letting it hang. Hold the pose for up to a minute and then release to child’s pose.

Bump up the challenge by lifting one leg for three breaths and then repeating on the other side.


On their own, down dog and dolphin are great isometric arm exercises. Moving between the two postures takes things to a whole new level.

The move: Begin in down dog. On an exhale, come into dolphin by lowering your right forearm then your left. Hold for a breath. On an inhale come back into down dog, straightening the right arm and then the left. Repeat 5–10 times and then repeat, leading with the left.

Bump up the challenge by lifting and lowering your arms simultaneously.


Holding this pose gives you a great isometric contraction that works the chest and arms, particularly the triceps.

The move: To begin, come into plank. Roll forward on your toes, bringing your chest through your arms. As you exhale, lower down until your arms form a 90-degree angle and stop.

There’s a tendency to lift the butt, creating an upside down V-shape, but keep your body firm and straight. Hug your arms into the sides of your body, elbows pointing back toward your toes. Keep your shoulders pulled back away from your ears, broaden through your chest and engage your core.

Drop your knees to the mat to make this more accessible or make it more challenging by moving between plank and chaturanga for yogi pushups.


> Stretches to Open Your Shoulders
> Yoga for Core Power
> Kick Butt Yoga Moves


This pose stretches the entire front of the body while building arm strength.

The move: Start in a seated position with your legs extended. Slide your hands several inches behind your hips with your fingers facing toward your body. Bend your knees so your feet are on the floor. Press down into your hands and feet as you lift your hips and butt off the ground into a table-top shape. Press the balls of your feet into the mat so your entire foot is actively pushing down, not just the outside edge of your foot.

Stay here or deepen the pose by extending one leg at a time while keep your hips high. Try to lift your hips a little higher without squeezing your butt. If it’s comfortable for your neck, drop your head back. Hold for 5–10 breaths then lower down on an exhale.


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About the Author

Kelly DiNardo
Kelly DiNardo

Kelly is a journalist, author, runner, yogi, skier, globetrotter and dog-lover. She has been teaching yoga since 2002 and is the owner of Past Tense, a Washington, D.C. yoga studio where her team reminds her how much fun it is to be a little twisted and encourages an upside-down approach to life. She is the author of “Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique” and “Living the Sutras: A Guide to Yoga Wisdom beyond the Mat.”


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