You want bigger arms. Get in line! Hopefully you aren’t under some impression that your desires are unique. More accurately, EVERY person who has ever stepped into the gym wants better arms. And for men, that usually means building up BIGGER arms. Sure, the cuts and definition will come later once you’ve got the size and decide to lean down. But right now, you want to get BIG. Let’s check out seven winning techniques for building big arms!
Stick with mainly compounds
Your best results when working to build stronger arms will always come from employing the heavy, compound movements. For biceps, this includes the classic free weight movements like standing barbell curls, alternating biceps curls, and chin-ups. For triceps, heavy compound movements include skull crushers, close-grip bench presses, dips and EZ bar presses behind the head. The heavy movements will activate the big, thick fast-twitch muscle fibers, which in turn will help to turn you into a big, thick bodybuilder. Use rep ranges that are in the 6 to 10 range, with controlled and balanced form.
Don’t forget to isolate
At the same time, as you are falling in love with the heavy compound movements, it is important to remember the importance of including some isolation work. Those slower-twitch muscle fibers need some love too! Keep the reps in the 8-15 range and feel the burn! For biceps, this could mean the use of concentration curls, bench preacher curls, and any number of cable or other machines available at your facilities. For triceps, isolation work involves kickbacks and a wide variety of cable work. Continuous tension on the biceps and triceps will help to pull out cuts and definition, and increase your muscular stamina as well. Just make sure you get the heavy biceps and triceps work done FIRST!
Mix up the movements
The biceps and triceps respond wonderfully to a nice mix of heavy and light training – but they only respond for so long. As time passes, you will discover the gains just don’t come at the same rate that they used to arrive. This is because your arms are no doubt beginning to become accustomed to the workout you are throwing at it. You are just as big as is needed to handle the workload thus far. And if you don’t get creative – changing up rep schemes, adding new angles and machines available at your gym – then your arms will stop growing at some point.
A very big, wise man once said the best workout is the one you aren’t doing. If you want stronger arms, you will want to mix up the movements so your muscle fibers never know what is going to hit them next!
Slow those repetitions down
You aren’t trying to train your ego, you’re trying to train your arms, even if it does feel very good to move a lot of weight. You can move more weight if you lift fast, but you’ll be isolating fewer muscle fibers as a result. Using leverage and momentum to move the weight is never a good idea. You will just be wasting your time in the gym.
Rather, you will see better results by keeping the positive (up) time at 4 seconds, and the lowering (negative/down) time of each rep at 2 to 3 seconds. You’ll move less weight and probably be able to complete fewer repetitions – but you will discover strength gains will come as a result. And that’s the name of the game!
Record how much weight you are using for each workout. Keep the reps honest and the amount of weight you are able to use will gradually climb. You won’t be hitting personal best every week. But you will see sustained and regular progress over time. Write down how many sets, reps, and poundage you use for each of your movements. Chart it out in Excel or a smartphone app for easy comparison to make sure you are seeing slow and gradual gains!
Remember to recover!
Eat more food. Sleep more. You are training for strength, which is very impactful upon the body. Playing an hour of full-court basketball or hiking nature trails isn’t the ideal recovery after a tough arm strength workout. Hit the weights, leave it all on the gym floor, then get home, devour a steak, and get your rest. Sleep and eat to grow bigger and stronger!
As you can see, building bigger arms isn’t exactly rocket science. Rather, it is a slow and gradual series of gains, resulting from smart and consistent training, nutrition, and recovery. Once you build up the pure, unadulterated mass, bringing out the cuts is just a matter of bumping up your rep count and bringing down your body fat levels. Good luck!