How to Do Arm Swings Properly

Arm swings are a dynamic stretch exercise. Dynamic stretching is effective before upper body workouts that require power.

In this way, they are more of a warm-up exercise primarily for your arms and shoulders. It also targets your chest.

Arm swings are amazing for loosening stiff shoulders and basically improve your shoulder mobility and flexibility. It also helps strengthen your deltoids.

Being a dynamic stretch, it activates the muscle fibres of the shoulder to react faster to applied resistance. This prevents injuries to the shoulder from doing too many overhead or forward pressing exercises.

The basic variation of this exercise involves holding out your arms at shoulder height and then bringing them in front of your chest so that they cross over each other like scissors.

The other variation is quite similar to doing arm circles. It involves swinging your arms around in big circles at your sides in clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

Being a dynamic stretch exercise, arm swings do not require any equipment to do. This exercise is not effective for strength training and muscle toning when done by itself.

HOW TO DO ARM SWINGS

  • Arm swings do not require any equipment to do. To do the crossbody variation:
  • Stand in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise your arms to a horizontal position at shoulder height and parallel to the floor.
  • With your palms open and facing down and arms fully stretched outwards swing your arms together by flexing your pecs to allow them to cross in front of your chest.
  • Swing your arms back open and allow your shoulder blades to retract while getting a stretch in your pecs until they are back to starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • You should remember to alternate which arm is on top for each rep for a symmetrical stretch.
  • They can be done dynamically once you have some blood flow in the muscle.

For the other variation, you will assume the same starting position as the crossbody arm swings.

Rotate your arms counterclockwise in big circles fast. After repeating this movement for some time switch up and rotate your arms is a clockwise direction.

Remember to keep your abs tight and back straight. Breathe slowly and use your muscles to propel the movement.

Your arms should swing in a steady and fluid motion and as close as possible to their full range of motion.

WHAT MUSCLES DO ARM SWINGS WORK?

Arm swings will primarily target and activate the muscles on your shoulders. The arm movement will however also rely on the muscles in your chest and upper back

THE DELTOIDS

These are the muscles that cover the shoulder joint and are responsible for raising the arm from the body along with all other arm movements at the shoulder.

The arm swings will therefore primarily target this muscle group and activate the muscle fibres to react faster to applied resistance. Basically, they will warm up the deltoids for more intense exercises.

THE TRAPEZIUS

These are the muscles that extend down the sides of the neck to the shoulders. These muscles are responsible for the movement of the neck and the shoulder blades.

When doing arm swings, the contraction and relaxation of these muscles aid in the forward and back movement of the arms to bring the actual swing.

When done repeatedly over time the trapezius muscle fibres will also be activated and will become faster to react to applied resistance.

THE PECTORAL MUSCLES

These muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, connect the front walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.

These muscles are targeted by arm swings when the swings cross in front of your chest.  Flexing your pecs allows for the arms to cross and when they relax the trapezius simultaneously retract to open up the arms and get a stretch in the pecs.

Repetition of this process will give these muscles much needed dynamic stretch to activate and warm them up.

THE BICEPS AND TRICEPS

Arm swings also target your upper arm muscles when stretching. These muscles aid the deltoids to keep the arms suspended in the air.

This exercise will get them stretched and activated for real intense upper body exercises.

BENEFITS OF ARM SWINGS

Being a dynamic stretch, arm swings have a lot of benefits to your musculoskeletal and circulatory systems.

THEY ARE AN AMAZING WARM-UP EXERCISE

Arm swings will target various muscle groups in your upper body to activate the muscle fibres which gets them fired up for more demanding upper body exercises such as heavy shoulder presses.

You should therefore incorporate this exercise into your workout program to warm up your muscles.

INCREASING SHOULDER MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY

Repeatedly doing arm swings will train your shoulder and back muscles to be actively flexible and make the movement of arms easier.

This will also make movement at the shoulder joint more fluid and easier.

IMPROVING CIRCULATION

This exercise will increase the rate of blood flowing to your arms and get them ready for doing strenuous exercises.

ALTERNATIVES FOR ARM SWINGS

There are other alternative exercises that work the upper body and are excellent for dynamic stretch.

ARM CIRCLES

This exercise is similar to the circles’ variation of the arm swings. The only difference is that you swing your arms in narrow controlled circles.

Arm circles are more of a strength and endurance exercise and are harder to do than arm swings. They work your shoulders and upper back.

ARM RAISES

This exercise involves standing with your hands at your sides and lifting them to shoulder height, parallel to the floor and then lowering them back to starting position repetitively.

This exercise is also a dynamic stretch to activate the muscle fibres of the shoulders.

ARM PULSES

Just like arm circles, this exercise is also more intense than arm swings. They are also similar to arm raises except that you raise and lower your arms over a shorter range of motion and in controlled pulses.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING ARM SWINGS

DOING SLOW SHORT REPS

The effectiveness of this exercise is largely dependent on the number of reps and speed of execution. The more reps the more your muscle fibres are activated and stretched.

Also, remember to increment your speed as you go on. Start slow and steady as you increase the speed of execution. The faster you go the more fibres are primed for work.

NOT GETTING FULL RANGE OF MOTION

Make sure you have enough space for your arms to swing around freely for the muscles to be properly activated.

CONCLUSION

Arm swings are an excellent dynamic stretch that are recommendable for your workout program.

They provide a good warm-up for your more intense upper body exercises by activating and stretching muscle fibres in your shoulders.