There’s a sh*t-load of people out there chomping at the bit for this kind of information. It’s mainly because these ‘mirror-muscles’ are so sought after on beaches all over the planet. Luckily for us, building bigger arms is an issue that’s easier to solve than most. If you asked me how to grow impressive calves, on the other hand – I wouldn’t have a goddam clue.
Best shoot Arnold an email and ask him if he remembers. Unfortunately, he’s more than likely busy out-bench-pressing the residents at the old-folks home.
Let’s get one thing straight – If you walk into the gym on ‘arm’ day and decide to work ONLY arms, I may have to slap you in the face with Oprah Winfrey’s sweat towel
Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder, you won’t need a whole training session dedicated to your tiny little arms. Despite what you’d like to think, the biceps and triceps are relatively small muscles and don’t require quite the direct work that your chest, back and legs do.
That’s right – LEGS goddamnit! Go and train them – You shouldn’t be able to bench more than you can squat!
Anyways, where was I, oh that’s right – epic arms…
When it comes to arms, you gotta keep it simple and really FEEL each repetition. Connect your mind with the muscle you’re trying to work. Can you feel the triceps burning as you complete that set of a thousand close-grip bench-presses? If not, check your form – you’re probably trying to lift more than you’re capable of (therefore recruiting other larger muscle groups to take on the bulk of the load).
On dumbbell curls for example…
- Don’t swing the weights nor use your body’s momentum
- Grip the weights as tight as you can. This will recruit more motor units in your biceps.
- ‘Squeeze’ the muscle at the top of each movement as you contract.
- Slowly lower the weight on each rep to maintain full muscle-fiber recruitment.
What rep range should I work in for more impressive arms?
There is no right rep range for any one person ALL of the time. You’ll never be working in the 6-10 range for a year and make continual gains. Not only that, the more you’ve been training, the better your mind-muscle connection is, therefore working in the heavier, 3-5 rep ranges becomes possible. Too heavy as a beginner, and you’ll be throwing your form out of whack (see above).
A common scenario…
Gym guy: So how do I grow my biceps, they appear to be lagging behind my chest?
Clint: How many weighted pull-ups can you do?
Gym guy: uhmm… well assisted I can do… 10?
Clint: Assisted? come back when you can do a single pull-up on your own, then we’ll see if you need some direct arm work.
Big arms don’t come without big ‘everything else’
The human body has a clever way of making sure you stay in proportion. That’s why you’ll never see someone walking around with a tiny frame an epic arms (unless they are the synthol man).
It’s best to concentrate on everything as a whole first, then concentrate on the arms (if they NEED it).
How often should you train arms?
Depends and depends.
I’ve seen guys not train them directly at all and been able to grow solid sets of pythons with key back exercises (like the pull-up remember?). Others require a lot more volume and can benefit from blasting them twice a week. What I’m trying to say is, don’t over think it.
Concentrate on including your arm workouts with your other major exercises and they will grow like weeds.
Pair chest with triceps…
On Chest day, add your tricep exercises into the mix.
Why? When working the pecs, you’ll be indirectly working the shoulders AND the triceps, so it makes sense to further stimulate them on this day to give them a rest the next.
Tip: Every now and then, place your tricep exercises at the FRONT of your workout when they are FRESH (yes even before chest). This is a great technique for increasing strength gains.
Pair back with biceps…
After you’ve finished your 5th set of pull-ups, why not grab a barbell and bust out 4-5 sets of curls to finish off your guns.
Why? Biceps are worked whenever you’re working your back.
Tip: Yes you can put them at the front of the workout (just like the triceps technique).
Variation is key
To build bigger arms, you can even pair chest with biceps and back with triceps. There’s no right or wrong here when trying to stimulate new muscle growth after a plateau. As dumb as it sounds, stubborn arms need to start ‘guessing’ again – in other words, throw something at them that they haven’t seen before.
Stuck doing the same weighted bicep curls you’ve been doing for months? How about doing them seated, and decline? Mix it up buddy.
- Train your body ‘properly’ as a whole – bigger arms don’t come without big ‘everything else’Grip the weights as tight as you can. This will recruit more motor units in your biceps.
- Don’t use momentum to lift the weight.
- Grip the weight as tight as you can and squeeze the muscle during each movement.
- Slowly lower the weight (in the negative portion) for more muscle-fibre recruitment.
- Start doing chins and pull-ups until you need to add weight. Then progressively add weight until you tear your shirt.
- Continually mix up your volume and rep-ranges when you choose to directly target both biceps and triceps.
- Pair arm workouts with other large body parts (no need for a separate arm day – Come back to me when you’re doing 120lb weighted pull-ups for sets of 25 and we’ll talk).
- Vary your exercises (even weekly) to shock your arms into growing.
As I said up top, if you can’t do weighted pull-ups or chin-ups and you feel like your arms need some ‘size’, start doing them FFS! – you’ll thank me for it later when your size ‘S’ t-shirts start tearing at the seams.