Forget piecing together random exercises or following a celebrity magazine workout. This is the workout that only follows the most proven methods to growing bigger arms, here is your big arm workout.
We all know we want bigger arms. We train and punish them week in and week out, but it’s never enough. It’s time to cut through the fluffy nonsense. It’s time to use a workout that’s battle tested and proven to produce bigger guns.
Here is how to get bigger arms.
There are hundreds of exercises that coaches, gurus, and bodybuilders have created for the arms. Unfortunately, they’re not all created equal and many are a waste of your time. It’s a frustrating situation being equipped with all these exercises, but many of them being an ineffective use of your time and energy. This gym workout only employs the best most effective exercises.
What’s more is this workout doesn’t just offer the best exercises, but the best workout. Many powerful muscle-building techniques are integrated to maximize the hormonal response, muscle damage, pump, and recovery. Following these specific tempos, rest periods and tools will ensure you’ve always got tickets to the gun show right up your sleeves.
Ready to get bigger arms?
Here’s how to do it.
What exercises you do and how you do them matters just as much as when they’re done. Training arms at the end of the week is a fun way to kick off the weekend. What’s more, fun is kicking off the weekend with bigger arms.
Training arms at the end of the week means that your body will be worn down from other workouts and your arms won’t perform at their best. For the big arm workout to take hold of your sleeves, you need to train them at the start of the week, or coming off at least one to two rest days.
Training arms fresh is vital for a few reasons. It leads to lifting more weight and lifting it effectively as they’ll be totally recuperated with full glycogen stores for a large pump. On the same token, training arms with a rest day afterward ensures full recovery. Even if legs are trained the day after, the body will be under high-stress loads delaying or possibly inhibiting a full recovery.
Train the arms hard and rest them harder.
Focus On Heavy Weights
Building muscle isn’t all about higher hypertrophy reps of 8 to 12. Heavy weight has to be lifted at high intensities to get a powerful hormonal response. This is best achieved by doing compound exercises that recruit large amounts of muscle. That means squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses and the like.
Lifting at high intensities of 85% or more of a one-rep max boosts muscle building and fat burning hormones like testosterone and IGF1. These heavy rep ranges have to be a part of your weekly split to get bigger arms.
It’s easy to think that the only way arms will grow is by training them. That’s simply not the case. The more the whole body is pushed to be anabolic, the higher the ceiling for arms.
Use Tempo And Time Under Tension
As important as moving heavy weight is, time under tension is crucial. Constant tension on the arms with appropriate rest will further the hormonal response. Specifically using sets that last at least 30 seconds with short recovery periods of no more than 45 seconds is a great way to boost growth hormone levels.
These longer sets also play directly into the trauma and growth potential the muscles can undergo. The constant tension on the muscles will increase blood pooling, also known as the pump. This creates transient hypertrophy or temporarily increasing the size of the muscle. Transient hypertrophy means more potential for the muscle to grow and to receive nutrients through the increased blood flow.
This workout integrates all these benefits through a few different techniques. It uses very specific time under tension through various concentric and eccentric tempos. The rest periods are also specifically timed to allow recovery but challenge the muscles. It’s crucial that a stopwatch is used. Otherwise, rather than training for maximal results, you’ll just be working out and leaving gains on the clock.
More Tension For A Killer Arm Workout
Taking the tension to the next level the workout uses cables and bands. The huge advantage with these types of equipment is that they keep constant tension on the muscle. While free weights do this to some degree, cables and bands ensure tension is felt through every inch of the exercise. Now, rather than losing tension and gains at certain ranges of a movement, they’ll be made much more challenging and complete.
Take the typical preacher curl. When using a bar, the hardest portion of the exercise is at the bottom. It makes sense since this is the part where we lift directly opposing gravity and also overcoming the inertia of the bar being still. The top portion of the movement is usually very easy as the weight is barely moved against gravity.
By looping bands around the bar it now means that the lower portion of the movement increases in difficulty, but, importantly, there is constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. As the band stretches at the top, it in fact, adds more resistance than the bottom. It’s a perfect system of using the resistance of free weights at the bottom while keeping this resistance consistently through the top by using a stretched out band.
Be warned: The banded preacher curl is much harder than the free weight version. You’ll no longer be able to rock the weight up or easily bust through a sticking point.
Swallow your ego!
Lower the weight so your biceps can be pumped up to new sizes.
Cables also play a role in the workout. Since the cable stack always moves directly against gravity, the tension stays consistent. The top range of motion will be just as challenging as the bottom. Just like the banded preacher curl, it ensures the exercise is challenging throughout the entire range of motion.
Train Arms At Every Chance
The arm workout will provide the main stimulus for growth. But, a holistic program will push the results further. Every upper body compound exercise trains the arms. Focusing on improving your bench press or pull-ups puts the arms under more load and stress. Directly training the arms with heavy rep ranges is only a portion of the equation.
There’s a big difference between curling 100 pounds and doing pull-ups with a 200-pound body. Likewise, triceps extensions will never replace heavy benching. The compound exercises improve stabilizers, grip and make muscles work synergistically. Doing these compound exercises only makes the arm workout easier.
Of course, that’s in a relative sense.
The arm workout is still brutal.
Cheat And Don’t Cheat
Unlike with your significant other, cheating is a gray area in exercise (hopefully). We often hear about the dangers of cheating or breaking form on an exercise. Often the rationale is that the intended muscles are no longer being targeted as much because other muscles are helping perform the movement.
While there is truth to this, it’s not telling the whole truth. A little hip swing or toss may spread the resistance of the exercise throughout the body, but it’s also enabling us to overload the targeted muscle. This extra overload is the stimulus that adds the extra inch to our arms. As we train the muscle, we can use cheating sparingly to ensure the target reps are made.
Another general argument against cheating is that it increases the risk of injury. Cheating on a squat is an awful idea. But cheating on a barbell curl won’t expose us too much injury unless there is already a contraindicated area such as the low back.
Think of squats as your significant other and your curls as speed dating. The risks are fairly different. That leads us to our golden rule: Just because you can cheat on reps, it doesn’t mean you should. Again, cheating should be used sparingly and never on the bulk of reps. Save cheating for the last couple of reps only.
This ensures the targeted muscle is in fact, getting maxed out then overloaded.
Push The Rep Range
Changing the rep scheme in this workout is for more than avoiding a plateau. Here reps are varied with purpose. The workout focuses on strength, then growth and finishes with endurance. Endurance is typically left behind with arm training. Just because it’s labeled as endurance, it doesn’t mean it won’t grow your arms.
This workout uses a high rep, light weight endurance finisher. For five minutes you’ll complete as many reps as you can of dumbbell curls and close grip push-ups. This forces blood into the muscles creating transient hypertrophy and floods the muscles with nutrients it desperately needs at the end of a training session.
The AMRAP finisher has another less obvious benefit: Motivation. It creates a mental and physical challenge for you to push yourself. Those who collapse at the end of the round will reap the benefits and gains.
Forget About Shaping And Focus On Growing
This is a no-nonsense workout. The exercises prove that. One of the biggest ways to waste time training arms is focusing on exercises that shape the muscle. These exercises have their place, but not when the goal is bigger arms and not in this workout.
Focus on exercises that engage the whole muscle and challenge it with maximal weight. This is the same principle we use with other muscle groups when deadlifts, rows or lunges are performed. The arms are no exception to this principle.
You’ll see the backbone of this workout is made up from close grip chin-ups, close grip bench presses, dead stop barbell curls and rack press lockouts. These exercises hit all the major muscles in the arms and do it with more weight and oomph than your typical isolation movements. Each variable plays into making the most of these exercises by forcing rest periods, reps and tempos that enhance the no nonsense training.
Do A Superset For Pumps
Planting exercises together does more than produce a proud pump. Delayed superset workout routines further increase the blood flow to the arms in comparison to doing all the biceps exercises then all the triceps exercises.
This increase in blood flow of the opposing muscle aids contractions. The opposing muscle serves as a cushion that bounces the other muscle back up at the end range of motion.
Take, for example, the cable press down. As the hands come up to the top, if the biceps are pumped up, they’ll act as cushion helping the triceps to contract and extend the arms down.
The Big Arm Workout
Perform a warm-up including foam rolling, cardio and dynamic stretches.
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Rest (Seconds)||Tempo (Eccentric/Concentric)|
|1a. Weighted Close Grip Chin-Up
|1b. Close Grip Bench Press
|2a. Deadstop Barbell Curl
|2b. Rack Press Lockout
|3a. Alternating Cross Body Hammer Curl
|3b. Lying Dumbbell Extension
|4a. Banded Preacher Curl
|4b. EZ Bar Pressdown
|5a. Dumbbell Curl with 50% Max weight for 12 reps
|5 Minute AMRAP||15 with 50% max weight||0||1/2|
|5b. Close Grip Push-Up
|5 Minute AMRAP||15||0||1/2|
As always it’s vital that the workout is followed precisely. If done properly, not only will you get big arms, but you’ll also be in pain trying to wash your hair after the workout. Always use a clock, count reps, tempos and select weights appropriately. All these variables are designed to produce maximal results and a variety of responses from the body that leads to bigger arms.
All that’s left now is to tackle the Big Arm Workout. Get after it and make sure to measure your arms so you can quantify your gains!
By Raphael Konforti MS, CPT