Let’s face it…one of the major training goals pretty much ALL guys want to achieve is to get big arms. This is not to say that everything else isn’t important…just that arms are pretty much THE biggest visual-impact point of the body.
And the critical secret you have to learn in your quest to build bigger arms is that you’ll NEVER get them by focusing on direct arm training.
You read that right…
The biggest arms are NOT built by doing curls and pushdowns and other isolation exercises. They’re built with heavy pressing and pulling exercises. Direct arm training has its place…but that place is not at the head of the line.
Think about it this way…the loads you can move with isolation exercises for the relatively SMALL muscles of the upper arms are MUCH less than the loads you can move when you involve the larger muscles of the body (back, chest and legs).
These are the exercises you need to focus on if you want to maximize your arm size
- Chin-Ups (weighted, once you can do 10+ with bodyweight)
- Barbell Rows
- Barbell Bench Press
- Close Grip Bench Press (I like the decline as it allows for heavier loads)
- Dips (weighted, once you can do 20+ with bodyweight)
Now, there ARE ways to shift the focus of several of these exercises to better target the muscles of the upper arms.
For example, when you’re performing chin-ups, keep your torso vertical as you pull yourself up. This will maximize bicep involvement. When you’re doing dips, keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and keep a vertical body position. This will focus more tension on the triceps.
These types of movements should form the CORE of your arm training. Now let’s move on to the “fun” stuff…isolation movements for the arms.
Because even though the majority of your arm mass WILL be built through heavy compound exercises, you CAN squeeze out even more growth by using the right targeted isolation exercises for the upper arms.
When doing these isolation exercises, the key that I’ve found to be important is that you don’t want to work them too heavy. You actually want to keep them relatively light to moderate in load so that you can really FEEL the target muscles working.
It’s all well and good to be able to curl 135 lbs but if you have to heave the bar up and throw your hips forward to do it, then it’s NOT going to do much for your arm size. You’d be much better off reducing the weight and focusing on tight form and hard contraction.
Some of the best upper arm exercises for this purpose include:
- Standing Barbell Curls
- Incline DB Curls
- Reverse Curls
- Lying Tricep Extensions
- Bodyweight Tricep Extensions
The bottom line when it comes to arm training is this…at least 2/3 of your arm training should be dedicated to BIG exercises (like presses and pulls). Arm size is also determined by BODY size…and the bigger overall you are, the bigger your arms will be.
The rest of your arm training can include direct bicep and tricep movements that work the muscles in isolation.
If you’re interested in more exercises that target the arms and go FAR beyond conventional training, I’ve put together a book called “The Best Arm Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of.” (http://www.thebestarmexercises.com)
These exercises are focused on the FUN stuff…the other 1/3 of your arm training that helps you squeeze out the results beyond what’s possible with heavy presses and pulls.
Big arms aren’t built in a day…but with the right focus on heavy training and effective supporting exercises, you WILL build them a LOT bigger than they are right now.
About Nick Nilsson
Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, he’s known around the world as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle” for a reason. Nine-time published author and fitness expert Nick Nilsson enters his lab every day with one obsession – to experiment with and deliver something better — the kind of mind-blowing, extraordinary weight training exercises that get results – FAST. An expert in kinesiology, physiology and anatomy, Nick gets a special charge out of helping people create the body they want, especially when nothing else seems to do the trick. To join thousands of others in Nick’s Training Asylum, go to www.madscientistofmuscle.com.