Do you want to build bigger arms? You’re not alone.

If you go to almost any gym, you will see people doing what seems like hundreds of sets of bicep curls.

But how many of these people have impressive arms?

Chances are that very few people do. This is because of many different factors. Genetics play a huge role in how good your arms will look. 2 people can have the same amount of muscle mass but one of the could have better-looking arms because of his/her bone structure and muscle insertions.

Your muscle shape is largely determined by genetics. For example, you may want to have biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger but if you don’t have the same bicep genetics,

We can’t change our genetics but most of us can get bigger and stronger.

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Common Arm Training Mistakes

Most people who want bigger arms don’t know how to train correctly.

Wrong Exercises

There are so many exercises you can do for arms but not all of them have the same effect.

Too Many Exercises

You don’t need to do a lot of exercises for the arms. There are a handful of exercises which have been proven to be most effective.

Not Performing the Exercises Correctly

Arm training is pretty straightforward. Yet many people don’t perform them correctly.

Ineffective Training Program

Training and Exercising are not the same. An exercise is simply a physical activity done to get an immediate result such as burning calories, getting a pump, getting tired etc.

Training is a physical activity which is done with the intention to achieve a future goal.

With arm training, our goal is to build bigger and stronger arms. It doesn’t matter what the immediate result is as long as we keep progressing towards our goals.

A good training program is designed to help you progress towards your goals.

Think of your goal as the destination you set on a map.

The training program is like the directions that will get you to your destination.

Without a training program, you can still put in the work but you may or may not reach your destination.

Arm Anatomy

When most people think of arms, they think of biceps first. The upper arm consists of the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Biceps

This muscle is known as the bicep because it has 2(bi) heads.

Primary functions of the biceps:

  1. Elbow Flexion – The bicep helps bring your wrist towards your shoulders.
  2. Wrist Supination – The bicep helps you turn /rotate your wrists. If you stand straight hands straight down by your sides and turn your wrist with thumbs pointing away from your body, you’re using your biceps to do so.
  3. Shoulder flexion – One of the lesser known functions of the bicep is to help raise your arm straight in front of you.

The bicep also acts as a stabilizer on other compound movements such as the bench press.

Triceps

The muscle is known as the triceps because it has 3 (tri) heads.

The 3 tricep heads are:

  • The Long Head
  • Medial Head
  • Lateral Head

The primary function of the triceps is elbow extension (straightening of your arm). It’s the opposite of elbow flexion performed by the biceps.

Shoulders

Many people don’t include shoulders in their arm training. Having strong shoulders is one of the most aspects of training both aesthetically and functionally.

The Primary Shoulder muscles we will be focusing on are the Deltoids.

There are 3 heads to the deltoids

Anterior/Front Deltoids

Used in pressing movements and to raise your arm in front of you – Should flexion and also to bring your arms across the chest (chest flys) – Transverse Flexion

Lateral/Medial/Side Deltoids

Primarily used to raise your arm to your side – Shoulder Abduction

Posterior/Rear Deltoids

These are primarily used in shoulder extension and external rotation. Any activity that brings your arm from front to back such as rowing and pull-ups, involves the rear delts.

Most trainees ignore this muscle. It is important to have this muscle developed for shoulder health.

The rear deltoid also assists in having good posture.

Types of Exercises

There are hundreds of exercise variations you can do for bigger arms.

In general, strength training exercises can be divided into 2 categories:

  • Compound Exercises – These use multiple muscles and/or joints to move the weight. These include Squats, Bench Press, Deadlifts, Overhead Press etc.
  • Isolation Exercises – These usually try to focus on using 1 muscle/joint at a time. These include leg extensions, preacher curls, chest flys etc.

Best Exercises for Bigger Arms

There are many good bicep exercises for the biceps. The biceps are also used when doing pulling movements such as pull-ups and rows

Biceps

Bicep Exercises Bigger Arms

Compound Exercises

  • Pull-Ups
  • Lat Pull Downs with Supinated Grip
  • Standing Barbell Curls
  • Standing/Seated Dumbbell Curls
  • Standing/Seated Hammer Curls

Isolation exercises

Triceps

Tricep Exercises Bigger Arms

Compound Exercises

  • Push-ups
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Close-Grip Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Lying Tricep Extensions
  • JM Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Dips

Isolation Exercises

  • Cable Tricep Press down
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Overhead tricep extension with a cable or dumbbell

Shoulders

Shoulder Exercises Bigger Arms

Anterior/Front Delts

If you’re already doing a lot of pressing movements, you probably don’t need to do additional exercises for the front delts.

Compound Exercises

  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Chest Flys
  • Dips

Isolation Exercises

  • Dumbbell Front Raises
  • Cable Front Raises
  • Cable Internal Rotation

Lateral/Side Delts

Compound Exercises

  • Dumbbell Side Raises
  • Full Range of Motion Side Raises

Isolation Exercises

  • Cable Side Raises
  • Chest Supported Raises
  • Machine Side Raises

Rear Delts

Compound Exercises

  • Pull-ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Machine Rows
  • Face Pulls with Cables or Resistance Bands

Isolation Movements

  • Chest-Supported Rear Delt Flys
  • Cable Flys
  • Reverse Pec Dec Machine

Training Guide for Bigger Arms

If you want to bigger arms, you will have to train them like any other muscle group.

Exercise Selection – For Each Training Session select 1-2 Compound Exercises for each body part you’re training and 1-2 isolation exercises.

Exercise Order – Start with compound exercises first and move on to Isolation exercises after. Compound exercises are more demanding in terms of energy and are therefore done first.

Training Frequency- Train Your Arms 2-3 Times per week. This training frequency will help maximize your muscle growth

Training Intensity –  Training Intensity refers to how heavy you train. For compound exercises, stick to 4-6 or 6-8 reps for the most part. For isolation exercises, go for higher reps of 10-15.

Pick a weight you can do with good form for your target reps without going to failure.

Training Volume – Training Volume refers to how many sets and reps you do with a given weight.

Progressive Overload – Progressive overload is the key to making consistent gains over time. It basically means that you’re getting stronger over time by lifting more weight and/or doing more reps.

With Compound exercises such as the bench press, you can progress faster because you’re using more/larger muscles.

With Isolation Exercises, it’s best to take it slow and only add weight when it really starts to feel easy for you.

Sample Arm Workouts

Since your arms are indirectly trained when you do various pulling and pushing compound exercises, you can add in some isolation exercises after your main compound movements.

These workouts will also train your chest and back muscles.

Arm Workout 1

Exercise Reps Sets Target Muscles
Barbell Bench Press 4-6 3-4 Chest, Triceps & Front Delts
Dips 6-8 3-4 Chest, Triceps & Front Delts
Chest Flys 8-10 3 Chest and Front Delts
Tricep Pushdowns 10-12 3 Triceps isolation

Arm Workout 2

Exercise Reps Sets Target Muscles
Pull-ups 4-6 3-4 Back and Biceps
Barbell Rows 6-8 3-4 Back, Biceps and Rear Delts
Seated Incline Bicep Curls 8-10 3-4-4 Biceps
Rear Delt Flys 10-12 3 Rear Deltoid

Arm Workout 3

Exercise Reps Sets Target Muscles
Close Grip Bench Press 4-6 3-4 Triceps, chest and shoulders. More emphasis on Triceps
Barbell Overhead Press 6-8 3-4 Chest, Triceps & Front Delts
Standing Bicep Curls 8-10 3 Chest and Front Delts
Face Pulls 10-12 3 Rear Deltoids

 

These are only sample workouts. You can substitute for this as you feel is appropriate.

Try these out if you want to build bigger arms!

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

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