Want bigger guns? What guy doesn’t? But, wanting bigger arms and knowing how to build them is not the same thing. We give you the info you need to achieve your goal. You’re welcome!
What is the first thing a woman notices on a man?
If you answered his bulging biceps, you would be right. Buff arms fill out sleeves nicely. They are exposed for six months of the year to the general public (except in Texas where you get 10 months of exposure) and they may be one of the sexiest parts of a man’s physique.
Almost every guy who is serious about the gym wants Hulkish arms. If you have been working your arm religiously and have reached a plateau or you just want to add some inches, we can help.
Here are 10 secrets for bigger arms including tips from some real bodybuilding pros!
#1 Check Your Curling Form
You may want to check your form while you are repping out those curls. As well, you will also want to keep the following tips in mind.
Always keep your biceps under tension by slowing the movement down, even if that means dropping the weight. It should take you about three seconds to reach the top of the movement and four seconds to return to your starting position.
Do not curl your wrists. They should remain straight throughout the entire movement.
If they do not remain straight, then that means you are placing more emphasis on working your forearms. You do not want that when you are aiming for bigger biceps!
Swinging is sloppy form. Do not swing the weights. When you swing the weights, you are calling on other muscle groups to aid in the movement instead of working the intended muscle, the biceps. If you have to, drop the weight so you can focus on only using your biceps throughout the exercise. It will make a significant difference.
Use full range of motion.
By extending the curls all the way out, you stretch your muscles. And, that can only be a good thing!
#2 Do One Workout Per Week Devoted To Biceps and Triceps
In an interview with Hallart D. Keaton, IFBB Pro in Men’s Physique and AMF certified Person Trainer, he explained how he built bigger biceps over his 12-week contest prep. Keaton stated, “I focused on heavy volume with maximum reps.” He was generous enough to share one of his arm day workouts. Yes, he devotes a whole gym session to his arms!
Here are some of the best bicep exercises…
DB hammer curl 4 x 8-10 reps
Straight bar reverse curl 4 x 10 reps
Arnold curl 4 x 10-12 reps
Preacher curl 3 x 12 reps
Triceps pushdown 3 x 12-15 reps
Overhead triceps raised 4 x 12 reps
Reverse pulldown 4 x 10 reps
Dip weighted 4 x max reps
#3 Biceps Are Like Chimera, They Have More Than One Head
Like Chimera, the mythological multi-headed creature, your biceps have more than one head. They have a short one and a long one.
The short head runs along the inside of your arm. People mostly see the short head from the front view. It gives your arms thickness. The long head runs along the outside of your arm. When your arm is flexed, it forms the peak. You have to make sure you are paying attention to both the short and the long, so that your biceps have balance and look good from all angles.
How do you make sure they are doing equal work?
By simply changing your grip position during exercises, you can place the emphasis on one head or the other. For example, using barbell curls you can deviate from the standard grip to either wider or narrower to change the emphasis of the lift. A wider grip works the short head. A narrower grip works the long head.
#4 Do You Stretch?
Joe Wiest, NPC Nationally Qualified Bodybuilder, Bodybuilding Coach and Online Coach, shared his advice for growing stage-worthy arms. During his sets he adds compound movements that involve stretching the muscles. This is a must for arnold arm workouts or any intense workouts for that matter.
Wiest’s pro advice is simple. He indicates that one trick for growing larger arms would be to alternate bi and tri exercises for an entire arm workout. Then, on the last exercise of each, make it a compound movement. For example, for triceps use a pushdown machine and for biceps do cable cambered bar curls.
For each exercise do seven total sets (last exercises only). Complete repetitions until failure, but in the 10 to 12 rep range with 30 seconds of rest in between. During the rest period of 30 seconds, you will alternate stretching the targeted muscle really good and flexing very hard. So every set in between you flex, then stretch, until you complete seven sets.
So ask yourself does stretching build muscle?
#5 Focus On The Negative
Do you always look on the bright side of life?
If so, that is a great approach. But, sometimes it is good to get negative for those big arm workouts.
Negatives will provide positive results, negative resistance training that is!
The proper name for negatives is eccentrics or the lowering motion of a particular exercise. Adding them to your arm regimen will force your arms to grow because you are focusing on a portion of the exercise that you might not normally focus on, a part that is aiding in stretching the muscle.
Think about the advice we already mentioned from Joe Wiest. Research published in The American Journal of Physiology (2006) studying muscle-lengthening contractions has shown that when you lengthen your muscles eccentrically, you increase muscle protein synthesis more than you would with concentric contractions.
Muscle protein synthesis is your body’s natural response to muscular stress that helps your muscles to grow larger.
When you workout, you place stress on your muscles and they tear. Protein synthesis is the process that repairs damaged proteins and builds new proteins. The new proteins are much stronger. Therefore, when you include negatives, which act to boost protein synthesis, you increase size, density and overall strength of those muscles.
#6 Spend Time On Your Forearms
If you are going to have T-Rex arms, you might as well go all the way, right?
As a result, you should spend some time murdering those forearms, too. After all, having great arms is about overall balance and symmetry with your forearm workouts!
Why would you leave any part out?
What follows are some great forearm exercises:
Hand gripper – invest in one for five forearm exercises
Behind the back cable curl
Use a fat grip for any arm exercise
#7 You Need On-Point Nutrition To Get Lean.
Everything looks bigger when you are lean. It’s true. When you reduce body fat and your skin stretches tightly over your muscles they can really be seen and they will appear much larger.
Just think about an offensive lineman. He tends to be huge, insanely strong and not lean. Then think about Brad Pitt in Fight Club. In it, he looks like a chiseled movie star.
We know Brad Pitt would not stand a chance against an offensive lineman in an arm wrestling contest, but whose arms would look better if they both flexed?
You would be able to see every aspect of Pitt’s muscles due to leanness. Get the point?
We thought so.
While you are roasting your arms in the gym, you also need to have your nutrition on point to achieve leanness. You may find that the discipline to keep your meals clean is harder than the discipline to get that pump in the gym each week. But, that is no excuse.
#8 Focus On The Muscle With Superslow Sets Once Per Week
Everyone has heard of superset workouts but Superslow sets actually hurt. If you have ever done them for any exercise, you will find that you begin to move faster at the end of the set just to make sure to get all of your reps in. However, maxing out on these super slow sets and keeping them slow is preferable to just speeding up to finish.
When you force your muscle to hold, it fatigues more quickly. In an article on super slow sets published by WebMD, they state that, “the key to SuperSlow is to never let the muscle rest — to remove the element of momentum from each exercise, making the muscles do the work instead of capitalizing on the tendency of a weight in motion to stay in motion. Muscles are worked beyond the shaky phase to the point of failure.”
Now we are not saying that you should stop traditional lifting and switch to only super slow. All we are saying is that you should just try adding super slow sets to your routine.
#9 Can’t Touch This – Hammer Curls
So you want your own set of twin peaks?
If so, you have got to work on building your brachialis muscles, the ones that run between your biceps and triceps.
Research has shown that hammer curls place a great amount of emphasis on the long head of your biceps. This creates the mountainous peaks that you are longing for. Don’t worry. It will only take a couple more minutes at the end of your regular arm day to pound out a set of hammer curls.
If you want to get the most out of your hammer curls, do incline hammer curls. They are most effective because your starting position is stretched which initiates a greater anabolic response, just like the stretch Wiest recommends in our fourth tip.
Hammer curls have been hotly debated, as to whether or not they are necessary. Even though some lifters might argue that you do not need to hammer curl, you really should in order to build incredible peaks.
#10 Jump On The Band Wagon
Do you have a cute pair of colorful resistance bands tucked in the corner of your closet at home?
Don’t hide them in the corner anymore. Take those flimsy looking weapons to the gym. Resistance bands are a great way to grow your guns.
Bands stop you from using momentum that you can otherwise build up when using free weights. They also give you the burn. You know what we mean. It’s that feeling that your muscles are on fire due to linear variable resistance, and you reach fatigue more quickly.
Dr. Jim Stoppani is a huge proponent of resistance band training. Stoppani claims that bands offer three superior benefits:
- More planes of movement – You have free range of motion because bands don’t use gravity as resistance.
- Constant tension – With free weights, there are points during your lifts that have no tension unlike bands that require constant tension.
- Linear variable resistance – This means that the load progressively increases as the range of motion increases.
Bands can be used alone or in a combo with free weights. For example, many men in the gym attach resistance bands to the bench press in order to increase resistance at the top of the movement. This practice requires you to use great force pushing into the movement (there can’t be slowing, or getting stuck, at the top of the movement). Using bands has been shown to increase strength and explosiveness. This could be especially helpful for athletes.
If there is one message that you received from the 10 tips in this article, I hope it was that you should dedicate a whole day to your arms that includes using a wide variety of lifts and different techniques with all types of equipment. A person who is well versed in gym techniques for building arms will most likely have the most well-rounded arms in the gym.
By Sarah Chadwell, CPT