Everyone wants to build huge arms, and the truth is that it’s not all that complicated. Put in a ton of hard work on some basic exercises, eat well, get lots of rest and sleep, and your arms will grow.
Sometimes, though, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeves to keep your arms company — and growing.
Here are 6 training tricks that will help you build bigger arms.
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With three heads to two, triceps comprise at least 50% more mass than do your biceps. For most guys, the triceps also have more power and growth potential than the biceps, so if you really want big arms, you need to grow your tris to the max. That does not mean that you need to spend all day on your triceps, but if there is a choice between doing one more set for triceps or one more for biceps, you’re usually better off opting for the triceps exercise.
Don’t Go Too Heavy
Strength and size are definitely correlated, but your arms get hit hard with heavy weights all the time thanks to the compound movements you do for back, chest, and shoulders. When you’re doing direct work for your arms, then, you should usually keep the weight light enough that you can really feel the muscle and fail around 8-10 reps (or slightly more). You generally do not need to go super heavy in order to make your arms grow.
Because your arms are stimulated when you lift big for chest and back, you need to take care not to overtrain them by adding in too much direct work at the wrong times. For instance, doing a heavy biceps workout the day after a back routine won’t leave much time for your relatively small biceps to recover in between.
Hit Your Angles
Even though they are small muscles, your biceps and triceps are somewhat complex. To train the entire functionality of your biceps, you need a heavy midrange move (like barbell curls), a stretch position movement (incline curls), a contracted position exercise (concentration curls), and a movement that allows you to supinate (twist) your wrists (dumbbell curls).
For triceps, you need a midrange or pressing movement (lying extensions, close-grip benches), an overhead movement (overhead extensions), and a movement that pulls your arms behind the plane of your torso (pushdowns).
Don’t try to cram all of these into one workout, but DO include them over the course of a couple of training cycles.
Hit the Brachs
The brachialis is technically not part of your biceps, but it lies beneath them and can push them upward and make them appear fuller when it’s well developed. Any kind of curl — like hammers or reverse curls — where your hands are neutral or facing down during the movement will hit your brachs hard.
Don’t Forget Your Forearms
If you want really complete arm development, then you can’t leave forearms out of the mix. While some guys, like Popeye and Dorian Yates, can grow big fores just by looking at a weight, the rest of us mortals would do well to include wrist curls and reverse wrist curls somewhere in our routines.
None of these ideas are revolutionary, but they are all part of a sound approach to building arms, and your physique in general, that should keep you growing in the right direction.