How to Build Huge Arms
This is not going to be your regular, run of the mill arm workout. This article is going to harness the power of science to create the ultimate arms workout. The first thing we are going to need to do is to look at what muscles comprise the arms.
There are the Biceps Brachii, Triceps Brachii, and the Brachialis muscles. At the top of the arm is the deltoid muscle, which technically shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as arm muscles but increasing your anterior delt size will make your arms look bigger.
The Biceps Brachii
As you can probably work out for yourself, the biceps brachii is the fancy name for your biceps. The most well-known muscle in the human body. Biceps Brachii simply means 2-headed muscle of the arm in Latin and refers to the 2 heads of the bicep muscle.
The Triceps Brachii
This muscle is found on the back of the arm and has 3 heads, so is called Triceps Brachii (3 head muscle of the arm). The triceps take up over 50% of your arm muscles, so are the most important muscles to train. They should be prioritised over the other two.
These are the muscles of the forearm and take up around a quarter of your arm muscles, they should not be prioritised when training but nor should they be neglected. Exercises like hammer curls that work the brachialis and the biceps would be a better choice than exercises that focus solely on the brachialis.
Weights, Sets, Reps, and Tempo
Triceps are made up of predominately fast-twitch muscle fibres so will respond to heavy loads. With that in mind, 200 triceps extensions with the lightest dumbbells possible are not going to get you massive triceps. Neither are countless drop-sets and smashing out seven or eight different triceps exercises.
Triceps actually respond best to pressing movements such as the bench press or weighted dips, rather than extension exercises (though these will still work).
As with triceps, biceps are mostly fast-twitch fibres so will respond best to heavy and slow lifting for a few reps rather than lifting a light weight for hundreds of reps. Mixing up your technique with different curl variations will benefit your biceps as they contain 2 heads that are worked in different ways.
The brachialis muscles' function is to flex the upper half of your arm, and to look absolutely badass, no bodybuilding superstar ever ignored the forearms in their programs. As we mentioned earlier, of the three muscles of the arm the brachialis is both the smallest and the least important. But that does not mean that you should neglect them, just don't overdo it. Medium rep ranges work fine with forearms, and exercises such as hammer curls or seated hammer curls are preferred.
Now for The Exercises!
A fantastic back exercise that will also put your biceps through a full range of motion. Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, pull yourself up by curling your arms until your chest and shoulders are in line with the top of the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down to complete your rep.
Barbell Bicep Curl
Nothing fancy about this exercise, but it is the most effective exercise for building bigger biceps, the benefits of this exercise are that you can really increase the load which will force your muscles to grow. Grab a barbell and place your hands so that they are gripping the bar (palms facing up), have your arms hanging straight down with your elbows tucked in. Breathe out and curl the bar up slowly until your hands are in line with your shoulders, pause, and then slowly lower the bar back down again.
Performed with a pair of dumbbells, stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand using the neutral grip (both hands facing inwards). Curl one dumbbell up until your hand reaches your shoulder, keeping your neutral grip throughout. You should feel this exercise in your forearms if you are performing it correctly. Make sure your elbow is tucked into your side throughout and that you don't swing your arms at all. Repeat with another arm to complete one rep.
Seated Hammer Curls
Exactly the same but seated, the advantage of this is that it ensures that you aren't using any other muscles to create momentum. Leaving your biceps and brachialis muscles to do all of the work. You can make this exercise even more difficult by placing the seat at a 45-degree incline which will increase the range of motion.
Close - Grip Bench Press
Perform a regular barbell bench press, head resting on a flat bench, feet flat on the floor, chest pushed out and bar raised over the centre of it. However, instead of the usual grip, you will have your hands slightly closer. It is important to note that close-grip does not mean hands almost touching, just slightly narrower than regular. The main technical change here is that instead of flaring your elbows out (as in a regular bench press) you should keep them extremely close to your sides, grazing the side of your chest as you bring the bar down, and back up again. This will keep the tension on your triceps at all times, without causing injury to your wrists (which will happen if your grip is too narrow).
You will need a pair of parallel bars to complete this exercise, most gyms have them. Grab both bars and lift yourself up so that your legs are raised off the floor with your feet tucked behind you. Lean forward so that your chest is a 30-40-degree angle, and then dip down until you feel a stretch in your chest. Do not go down any lower than that as this can damage your shoulder. Pause, and then drive back up to complete your first rep. To increase the resistance, you can add a dipping belt which will allow you to add weight to the exercise, alternatively, you can place a dumbbell between your feet.
Ultimate Arm Workout
- Close Grip Bench Press (2 x warm ups) 3-4 x 6-8 reps
- Chest Dips 3 x AMRAP*
- Chin Ups 3 x AMRAP
- Barbell Bicep Curls 4 x 6 reps
- Seated Hammer Curls 3 x 8 reps (each arm)
*AMRAP = As Many Reps as Possible
So there you have it, a bicep workout, a triceps workout, and a forearm workout all in one. This workout will also work your deltoids (during the close-grip bench press and dips), Latissimus Dorsi (during chin-ups), and your pectorals (also during the close-grip bench press and dips). So almost a full upper body workout!
Adding Arms into a Full Body Program
Whilst we all love a good arms workout, there is a lot that can be said for integrating arms into a full body workout program rather than just training them all in one session. So here is a full week's training schedule with arm exercises thrown in. This way you can get huge biceps and triceps while also building your legs, chest, back, and shoulders.
- Deadlifts (2 x warm up sets) 2-3 x 4-6
- Romanian Deadlifts 2-3 x 8-10
- Lunges 3 x 10 (each)
- Bench Press 3 x 6
- Chin Ups 3 x AMRAP
- Push Press 2-3 x 6-8
- Barbell Bicep Curls 4 x 6
- Barbell Back Squats (2 x warm up sets) 3-4 x 6-8
- Leg Extensions 3 x 10
- Calf Raises 2-3 x 20
- Close Grip Bench Press 3 x 8-10
- Lat Pulldown 3 x 6-8
- Rear Delt Flyes 2-3 x 10-12
- HIIT cardio
- Ab crunches 3 x 20
- Plank x 1
- Rack Pulls 3-4 x 6-8
- Hamstring Curls 3 x 12-15
- Chest Dips 3 x AMRAP
- Single Arm DB Row
- Seated Shoulder Press 2-3 x 12
- Front Squats 3 x 6-8
- Romanian Deadlifts 2-3 x 8-10
- Glute Bridges 3 x 6
- Bent Over Row 3 x 6-8
- Close Grip Bench Press 2-3 x 10
As you can see this workout works all of the major muscles and it doesn't need to be performed on the exact days set, feel free to move it around to suit your lifestyle. You can add more cardio and abs if you feel that you have the time to train them, or you could quite easily drop both if the program is too intense already.
Try to warm up beforehand, five minutes of gentle cardio and some time spent using a foam roller would really help you recover from the previous session, whilst preparing you for the current one. Also, perform practice sets (warm-ups) before each big exercise you perform. You probably won't need to do so before a bicep curl, but you definitely will need to do so before a deadlift or bench press. This will improve your performance and lower the chance of injury.