When most people think of big, strong muscles, they’re thinking about arm muscles.
We’re probably programmed to think that way because we use our arms for virtually everything. Also, many clothes and styles we wear expose our arms or are even designed to accentuate our arms.
If you’re looking to develop big and powerful arm muscles… tone up and add some shape to your arms… or want to add a little bit of muscle to fill out your shirt better… you’ll have to put the work in to get them.
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to get there.
We could split the arm into multiple different muscle groupings. But for the sake of this article, we’re going to keep it simple. At it’s most simple, your arms consist of three muscle groups.
Those muscle groups are:
Your bicep rests on the top of your upper arm. When you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger doing one of his classic bodybuilding poses, this is the muscle you’re probably imagining sticks out the most.
“Bi” means two. Your bicep contains two main muscles. You can alter your workouts to focus on one of the two muscles specifically, or you can work on both of them at once.
Your triceps are located opposite of your biceps on your upper arm. “Tri” means three. They’re called triceps, because, you guessed it, they consist of three muscles. Think of your triceps as the counterbalance to your biceps. Your biceps pull while your triceps push.
When we’re talking about your forearm, we’re talking about all of the muscles in your lower arm that run from the elbow to your hand. These muscles are important for gripping things, whether we’re talking about tools, grocery bags, or a hand in a handshake.
In order to get really big, strong, shredded-looking arms, it’s important that you properly work out all three of these muscle groups. That way, no one part of the arm will look undeveloped, taking away from your overall size.
Here are some great exercises that you can do to strengthen your arms and get them looking how you want.
Curls are probably the most commonly known arm exercises out there. Curls are great for working out your biceps. There are tons of different ways to do them and each variation will focus on a different part of your bicep, or tax your bicep in a different way. This allows you to really focus in on what you’re looking to change and develop. We’ll talk about some specific types of curls later on.
Dips are great for working on your triceps. You can do them in a variety of different ways from leaning against a chair and dipping only part of your body weight… all the way to draping a weighted chain across your shoulders and dipping your full body weight, and then some, between two bars.
Also, your hand placement will change which part of the tricep is being activated most. Once again, allowing you to target different areas of your arms that you want to grow. BUT do not let the different variations, hand placements, and other variables confuse you or stress you out. At the end of the day, dips are great, so just do them.
Underhanded seated rows are another great way to work on your biceps. Not only that, but they also help strengthen your lower back as well. You’re basically getting two birds with one stone.
Since this exercise recruits more muscles you can typically go a little heavier which helps to overload the muscle, helping to stimulate growth.
Hammer curls are the first variation of the standard curl that we’ve already mentioned. The main difference between regular curls and hammer curls is how you hold the weight. When you do a normal curl, the dumbbell or bar is parallel with the ground.
When you do a hammer curl, the dumbbell is perpendicular. Twisting your wrist 90 degrees forces your forearms to work more making the curl utilize muscles beyond the bicep.
Personally, I am a big fan of hammer curls because it does recruit more muscles to be active during the movement. That and I’ll be honest … I’ve always thought it translates the best to looking “jacked” in a t-shirt or holding a beer at the pool. haha
Wrist curls are another great way to focus on strengthening the muscles in your forearm.
Just make sure that you’re using enough weight to make your arms work, but not enough where you start using other muscle groups and sacrificing good form.
Since the weight should be lighter, wrist curls can be great as part of a good warm up to your arm workout, or an awesome way to “burn” things out at the end!
Your triceps are used for pushing. And what better way to get them to push than a push-up? You can do a variety of different kinds of push-ups from standard to wide to diamond to clap. Each one will work your triceps, pecs, and shoulders from a different angle, with a different intensity.
To target your triceps more, utilizing the diamond push up more than some of the other variations is an effective approach!
Skull crushers are also called French extensions or French presses. But we think skull crusher sounds better. They’re used to work out your triceps as well.
A common error for skull crushers is going to heavy in weight. This can add unwanted strain to your elbows, recruit the wrong muscles to move the weight, and diminish the results from doing this exercise. You want to use as heavy as a weight you can while keeping great form and effectively controlling the weight throughout the entire movement.
This can be done with a dumbbell or the rope attachment on a cable machine. Once again, this will target your triceps a bit differently, overloading them when using a challenging weight, that will help stimulate growth. Focus on keeping your elbows stable and really using the tricep to push the weight overhead.
Dumbbell kickbacks are another great tricep exercise. You can use a bench, a chair or your bed for support. You can practically do them anywhere.
Pull-ups and chin-ups are virtually the same exercises. The only thing that’s really changing is the direction of your grip and the width of your grip. These changes also change the muscle group you’re working on. You will want to use both variations to help with the overall growth of your arms!
You use your arms every day. Almost everything you do requires your arms at some point. Whether you’re cooking dinner, working at a computer, closing the trunk of your car, or getting out of bed. Most everything requires at least a little bit of arm strength.
If you’re really working out your arms, they’ll feel pretty sore. And nothing will make this soreness more obvious the going about your day-to-day life.
The fact is, it’s hard to go about your day-to-day life without the soreness brought on by a great arm workout effecting it. And that constant soreness may make you want to work out less next time. Or not at all.
The easiest way to fix this problem is by taking control of your after-workout recovery.
And you can take control of your recovery by supplying your body with all of the things it needs to reduce soreness, restore glycogen levels, and build stronger muscles quickly and efficiently.
You can do this by using proper post-workout supplements, have a great nutrition plan, and if you fall short on your nutrition some key nutritional supplements to help out: Micro Nutrients, post-workouts, and protein powders.
See while this blog is about exercises you can do in the gym … the real growth and strength increase only happen if you take care of your needs outside the gym. If you don’t do that, no arm exercise will help you get the arms you want.
Whether you want to have the biggest arms in your group of friends, tone them up, or just add a little size… we can help you! Developing the arms you want and can be proud of will take a well put together training program, a solid nutrition plan, and a few key supplements like proper post workout… all of which we can help you with!
The one thing we can’t help you with is doing the work. As I said in the very beginning, if you want to change your arms, you are going to have to work for that change … both in and out of the gym … both on days you feel like it and days you don’t… because even the best plan is useless if not acted upon consistently.
If you have any questions or need any help at all, please never hesitate to reach out! We have a fully staffed team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialists that will help you for free! They are available Monday thru Friday 6 am to 10 pm CST at 1-800-409-9732… or anytime via email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.
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