The Best Arm Exercises!

The Best Arm Exercises!

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Best Arm Exercises

When you stop and think about it, unless you live on the beach somewhere (or just prefer to walk around town in the buff), very few of your muscles are actually out in the open.

Sure, a well-defined physique is apparent, especially when wearing properly fitted clothing, but in terms of uncovered skin, your arms may be just about it. This is why muscular, large arms receive so much attention.

And thankfully, boosting the strength and size of your arms doesn’t need to be difficult.

By targeting your arms with a list of our favorite new arm exercises, you’ll feel the burn and see size and strength improvements in no time.

All you need to do (besides lift) is continue on and read the content below!

The Basics About Your Arms

Before we move head first into the arm exercises, let’s look at some of the basics. 

Your arms are primarily made up of your forearms, biceps, and triceps. Depending on your workout routine you may include your shoulders, but usually, shoulders are better packed together with your back and chest (as many of the heavier upper body lifts hit the shoulders).

Due to this, you’ll basically be targeting your biceps and triceps.

Now, there are two real methods for the “best” arms. If you’re going for an increase in size, you want to perform two to three sets of 8-12 reps each. If you want to go for strength gains you’ll want to perform the exercises around 4-5 reps. With some exercises strength gains occur with 1-4 reps, but perform one rep sets of curls isn’t going to do you much good.

You are also going to need to eat plenty of protein. It doesn’t matter what kind of workouts you perform at the gym if you are not consuming protein to repair your damaged muscle tissue it will be more difficult to put on size, plain and simple.

Your muscles use the protein for energy as well, so don’t focus on calories here. As long as you eat a lean protein, low-calorie diet (low calorie as in not fried foods or individual ingredients heavy in calories) you can essentially eat as much as you’d like. In terms of size gain though, you’ll find the amount of recommended protein tends to vary from one professional to the next. Shoot for around 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound you weigh for maximum size gains.

Misconceptions About Getting Bigger Arms

There are plenty of misconceptions regarding bigger arms.

You may see someone with gigantic tree trunks and assume they hit their biceps and triceps on a daily basis. That is simply not true at all. In fact, you really don’t need to work your arms all that often to grow muscle and see strength gains.

Stop and think about it. 

Since evolving into a species where all of our weight is positioned on our legs, upper body muscular use became less necessary. It is why the largest muscles in the body are located in the legs. Over centuries, arms have become less frequently used muscles compared to other areas of the body. This means the muscles are not used to heavy work every single day.

Because the muscles are not used to heavy work, you need to provide plenty of rest and recovery time. You only need to work your arms once, at most twice a week. Anything more than this and you’re taking away valuable recovery time while also reducing the amount of work you can put into your chest and back.

The next common misconception is you must, in fact, lift heavy to get big arms. Yes, lifting heavy can help in boosting size.

However, there is only so much weight you can curl and lift with your arms. There are plenty of people out there with totally ripped arms who use nothing but their own body weight to train.

So don’t worry, if you’re working out at home and don’t have a ton of money to invest in weights (thankfully you don’t need a ton for your arms to begin with) there are options for you.

Never Ever Ever Overtrain

We touched on this a bit already, but it is so imperative for you to not overtrain your arms we want to dive a bit deeper into it.

Overtraining your arms is one of the easiest things to do. Far too many people want giant biceps, so they squeeze out a few sets of curls every day at the gym, even if it is leg day.

Big mistake!

This takes away from your eventual gains. Because your arm muscles are not used to heavy use, it takes more time to repair and rebuild the muscle tissue. If you constantly hit your biceps and triceps while training you’ll continually rip down the repair job.

So if you’ve been working overtime on your arms and still haven’t seen any gains, overtraining the muscles is likely the problem.

The Bicep and Tricep Heads

The best way to improve your arms is to understand the heads of the muscles.

This way, you’ll know where you’re lacking and what exercises are used to train the muscles. Your bicep is made out of two heads. There’s the inner head and the outer head. The inner head makes up the height of your bicep while the outer head makes up the width.

Now there are three heads of the triceps. The lateral head runs lengthwise down the back of your arm. The long head of the triceps curls up and meets your shoulder. The third head is the medial head. This curls down to your bicep and is right under the long head.

The three of these heads put together is what makes the horseshoe shape in the triceps.

Working the Heads

Often times, grip and posture will impact the heads you work.

Let’s begin with the biceps.

Holding weights closer to your body, or even lifting across your body (think curling with your right arm across the left side of your body) works the inner head. If you want to work the outer head, you’ll use a wider grip (instead of holding a curl weight directly at your side, use a slightly elongated curl up as if you’re trying to hit the corner of your shoulder).

To work the lateral head of your triceps, you want your arms at your side. Examples of this is a bench dip or an overhead curl. The long head is hit with your arms over your head (the skullcrusher, which we’ll get to).

The medial head is worked with your arms at your side using an underneath grip.

Some Of The Best Arm Exercises!

The Best Bicep Lifts

One of the beautiful aspects to working your arms is a great bicep exercise can also work your triceps (and the best tricep lifts can work your biceps).

The key is to return to start slowly. If you were to perform a standard curl, don’t just lower the weights back down quickly. Take at least a two count to lower the weights down. If you only have lightweights around (or resistance bands), stretch this out to a four count.

It simply extends the amount of pressure and torque placed on the muscles, which increases the damage and helps boost potential size.

Incline Bench Curl

The best arm exercises are the moves that stretch your muscles further.

A longer stretch causes more tension on the muscles, resulting in more damage and, eventually, larger, stronger muscles. That is why the incline bench curl is at the top of this list. Few other specific arm exercises give you the kind of a stretch as this particular move.

It is also an incredible tricep lift as well.

To do this lift, you’ll need an incline bench. At the incline bench, hold your dumbbells on each side and allow the arms to come down naturally on your sides. Slowly curl the weight up, hold at the top, then slowly curl the weight down. This lift really hits your triceps so let the arm curl down slowly. Now, while your arms are laying there in the starting position, flex your bicep, engage your arm and then stretch your arm back further.

This adds additional stretch onto the triceps.

Squeeze your triceps and then raise your arm back up to another curl.

You don’t need to perform the end tricep squeeze if you don’t want as it is basically an additional sub-move tacked onto the incline curl, but it is beneficial if you tack it on.

Preacher Curl

You already know how to do the regular curl. 

Plus, the incline curl stretches your arms further, so you get more muscular damage with it. Instead of focusing on the regular curl, we’re going to look at the preacher curl. The benefit of the preacher curl is you can alter how you lift it in order to target your inner or outer head. Few other curls give you this kind of direct targeting. It is best to use dumbbells with a preacher curl for this exact reason.

Position yourself at a preacher curl station. 

If you don’t have one you can simply leave the incline bench as it is, stand behind it, and use the incline as an elbow rest. Focusing one arm at a time, you can use a significantly closed body curl (or cross body) to hit the inside head. If you want, you can do one set for the inside, and the second set for the outside.

That’s the beauty of the preacher curl.

 Best Triceps Lifts

Skullcrusher

Like we said earlier, we’d get to the skull crushers (with a name like that, how can you not…it’s also a name of a pretty good Scottish beer).

With this lift, you’ll want to start with your curling barbell (or dumbbells if you like although this will likely challenge your balance, so if you have weaker shoulders and arms, it is best to start with a curl barbell first). Lay on a bench and hold the weighted bar above your head. It is best to have some bend in your elbows here. Now, with a close grip, lower the weight so your hands are near the top of your forehead.

This puts all of the tension right on the triceps. Slowly lift back up (which works your biceps) and hold with a bend. By leaving a bend in your elbow you keep your biceps engaged, working the muscles.

Bar Dip

You don’t need weight to hit your triceps.

Remember how we said one of the biggest misconceptions regarding building stronger, larger arms is you need massive weight? 

The bar dip proves you don’t (of course, to challenge yourself you can always add a weight to your legs or a weighted vest). The best bar dip is to use a dip machine where you are fully elevated off the ground. Make sure to keep the trunk of your body straight as you lower yourself, hold when your elbows are at 90 degrees for maximum tension, and lift back up. If you’re doing this at home and don’t have a full body bar dip, use your coffee table and extend your legs out.

It won’t be as much body weight on your arms, but it’s still a great exercise.

Cable Push Down

You’ll need a cable machine for this. Stand with your back to the cable machine and take hold of the cable from above your head, using the straight bar grip. It should come to about your chest level so your arms are at a 90-degree bend. Now push the weight down. Because your arms are close to your body you’ll work primarily the lateral and medial heads. Let the weight slowly come back up to work the inner head of your bicep.

Let the weight slowly come back up to work the inner head of your bicep.

Conclusion

One of the great aspects of arm exercises is you don’t need to overwork your arms. 

Nearly every exercise you do, especially with free weights, engages your arms in one way or another. Due to this, you don’t (and shouldn’t) spend hours a day on your arms. By taking advantage of these different arm exercises, you’ll quickly begin to see results in both size and strength (just make sure to keep up with your dietary regimen and protein intake).

As long as you do that, you’ll have the best arms you’ve ever had in your life.

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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