Training

Bigger biceps & triceps – 5 Tips for building arm muscle fast

By September 10, 2010 10 Comments

One thing that is synonymous amongst the male crowd who train, is the desire for seriously big and strong biceps & triceps.

We all love to squat and dead-lift (right guys?), but no one wants to reveal their thighs and quads quite like they do the almighty mirror-muscles.

So the burning question is: How to get big biceps and triceps and how to build that arm muscle the fastest? Surely the girls all want to see tight tees and bulging arms.

Well at least that’s what the male population tends to think.

bigger, better and stronger arms

Seriously, you don’t wanna look like this guy.

I’m going to allow this misconception to fly, as I do believe sizeable, well-toned arms are a must have on any aspiring gym-junkie (not just the guys mind you). However, Let’s not aspire to become the synthol-man or one of his nasty counterparts. Ridiculously large and out of proportion arms are a big no, no to the land of the fairer sex.

So what are the tips for building arm muscle fast then bucko?

If you’ve stopped growing, are getting weaker (heaven forbid) or looking for inspiration in your arm workouts, here are 5 things you should know for bicep & triceps training.

#5 Avoid overtraining

This is often the first mistake many of us make when trying to add Arnie-worthy amounts of arm-meat to our bones.

The problem is, the muscles in our arms are quite small (particularly the biceps).

You don’t need to blast them with 5 different exercises and 200 reps a session. This will weaken you and send you on your merry way to becoming the world’s smallest man. With the tiniest arms. Yes, that’s right.

#4 Quit using momentum

I saw this today and it inspired me to post this very article. It usually occurs when ‘swinging the bar’. Especially during bicep workouts on alternating dumb-bell curl movements where you bring one arm up before the other has completed a full repetition.

During alternating dumbbell exercises—curl one arm up, then lower it completely before bringing up the other.

Notice how much harder that is? That’s because all of the weight is now on your biceps and not being distributed evenly through your shoulders, back and pelvis.

#3 Squeeze the bar

Nothing allows you to lift more than squeezing the bar as you complete each rep. It really works dude. Honestly. You wouldn’t arm wrestle someone without using the firmest grip possible would you? If you want to build arm muscle fast, then same goes here.

As an example—during biceps training, squeeze the bar ultra tight. This will ignite more of the targeted muscle fibre allowing you to lift more weight.

girl with great arms

See, even the ladies look good with well-defined arms.

#2 Vary your rep ranges

If you’ve been stuck in the 4-6 rep range for a while, switch it up to 8-12 or vice versa.

Like most of the body’s muscles, the biceps and triceps are quick to adapt to any exercise after a period of time.

#1 Avoid training to failure all the time

This sends negative feedback to your central nervous system. You are telling it that you can’t complete the next rep and have ultimately ‘FAILED’. Your central nervous system is smart and recognises this fact.

The next time you try to lift heavier, it will remember what weight you FAILED at lifting previously.

“You couldn’t lift the previous weight, how do you think you’re gonna lift an even HEAVIER weight than before, my nizzle?”. As clearly, your central nervous system is Snoop-Dog.

#Bonus Tip – Don’t neglect the forearms

You’d be surprised at how many people neglect their forearms. A strong grip, and a decent set of Popeye forearms will increase the amount of weight you lift for not only bicep and tricep exercises, but also for any other movement involving the arms as a whole.

If you want to add more pounds to your bench press, then start training those forearms.

Further reading on bigger biceps and triceps

Rusty over at fitnessblackbook.com also wrote a great article on this topic which details how he fixed his ‘stubborn’ arm problem. Check it out here

Editor’s note: What are other bodybuilding exercises that you use to re-ignite the fire in your biceps and triceps when they start lagging? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • For biceps, I look no further than the almighty pull up. With one simple exercise I can strengthen my biceps, back, and forearms. For triceps I do various compound pushing exercises (which also emphasize your shoulders and chest) such as overhead presses, push ups, and dips.

  • Clint,

    For biceps, I like to vary the types of curls I perform regularly. I’ll mix it up between standing alternating curls, seated curls with varying levels of incline, hammer curls, concentration curls, etc. Of course, I don’t do all of these in the same session (per your tip #5).

    Alykhan

  • Excellent set of tips. I still like my set of bicep curls, but try to focus on pullups, dips, diamond pushups, and closed grip bench press (not all during the same workout) since they’re compound exercises.

  • Hey Clint,

    Sweet post! Tips #2, 3 and 5 are golden…but the best tip was the Bonus. You NEVER see guys training their forearms anymore. This is one of the most neglected yet important bodyparts when it comes to building a great upperbody. I’m not just talking arms. Weak forearms can also affect your back development too! If your grip fails when you are doing heavy single-arm DB rows, or pull-ups, pulldowns, etc., then you are not getting the max benefit from your workouts. Having strong forearms is a critical step if you want to achieve your maximum potential. None other than the 1st Mr. Olympia, Larry “The Legend” Scott, preaches this same point all the time. Check out his book Loaded Guns for some great arm development tips.

  • It’s also important to vary your rep speed between fast and slow repetitions. This will allow you to target the brachiallis, which is the muscle underneath the visible heads of the biceps. This will allow you to get more peak in your biceps.

  • Great tips- especially #3 – squeeze the bar.

    For curls I also like to let my wrists hang down to really isolate the bicep.

  • Clint Nielsen says:

    @Darrin
    Yes! How good are pull-ups. Highly underrated exercise for building arm mass. I enjoy ramping with weights tied to my waist. In terms of Dips, i find them hard to isolate the triceps as such, but they are great for chest development when used leaning forward.

    @Alykhan
    Good to see you’re mixing it up all the time. I think the more angles you attack each muscle, the better results you’ll have.

    @Dave
    Diamond pushups are also a fave of mine. Often use them at the end of a workout with my feet elevated to increase difficulty.

    @Pete
    I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of neglecting my forearms in the past. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve re-incorporated them back into my training.

    @Josh
    Agreed — “speed” is another important factor in terms of growth. I feel a post around this very topic might be around the corner ;)

    @Darren
    Be careful when doing exercises which force your wrists into unnatural positions. Especially if you’re doing straight-bar arm curls, you’re wrists are already facing the maximum amount of strain as it is.

  • Yavor says:

    Solid tips, especially about varying reps. Most people are stuck in a dogma and do either only pumping or low reps. The secret is to switch things around and, of course, always try to progress.

  • Yavor says:

    That last comment – got messed up. Hopefully you will fix my name :)

  • sabil says:

    For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you want to force your muscles to adapt by making stress that’s completely different than the previous threshold your body has already adapted to. this can be done by lifting heavier weights, regularly changing your exercises in order that you’ll harm a lot of total muscle fibers and pushing your muscles to fatigue whereas obtaining a “pump.” once the exercise is completed, the most vital part begins that is adequate rest and providing ample fuel to your muscles in order that they will regenerate and grow. – See more at: http://www.getinandgetfit.com/2016/07/how-to-grow-muscles-and-get-bigger.html#sthash.HV9BlGIA.dpuf

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