Muscular arms are a physical standard developed from an early age thanks to all the super heroes who have impressive upper bodies with swollen biceps.
They also symbolize masculinity and provide the alpha edge to your image.
Building arms which stretch shirt sleeves and cause people to stare takes dedicated training and patience.
More than that, it also requires knowledge and precise application through solid technique and training strategies.
There’s little point in being patient for two years doing the wrong things because the results still won’t come.
Of all the things I’ve learned about building big arms, there are seven rules I prescribe to everybody without exception. In sequence, here they are for your benefit.
1. Prioritize Triceps
Triceps account for two thirds of arm mass, so you can’t ignore them! Even if bicep development is very strong, overall arm size will never be maximized until the triceps catch up.
Interestingly, antagonistic muscle groups usually grow better when they grow together. As soon as there’s a gross imbalance in size and strength between opposing muscle groups, it can slow the overall development down.
Doing regular tricep exercises, like pushdowns, is fine but you’ll need to become more advanced in your approach if you really want arms which are going to pop from every angle. Below are two “must do” tips for bigger triceps:
1) Always include at least one, sometimes two, overhead extension exercises. This will recruit the long head portion of the triceps which makes up a significant amount of overall tricep muscle mass.
2) Triceps have a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers designed to push heavy weight, so you need to work with human genetics here. Aim to become stronger on close grip bench press and overhead extensions by working within an 8-12 rep range. This will encourage overload within a rep range which is suitable for targeting fast twitch muscle fibers while allowing for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy as well.
2. Pay Attention To Your Form
Arms are probably the most glaring example of people using bad form to try and lift heavier weight. To make your arms grow, there has to be enough discipline to complete an exercise with correct form. If you can’t drop your ego, then you’re wasting your time because there will be limited tension on the biceps or triceps.
Here are my top tips for improved form when training arms:
- Prevent your elbows from flaring outwards. Whether you’re working biceps or triceps, this tip should always be followed to ensure isolation of these muscles as much as possible. Keeping your arms tucked by your sides will make the exercises more effective.
- Don’t use excessive momentum to get the weight moving. This will only increase your risk of injury and simultaneously fail to load the biceps or triceps. Rather, momentum will put a lot of strain on your lower back, and can lead to recruiting the delts more than the arms.
- Use a full range of motion. Don’t try to justify going “heavy” with half reps because that’ll only hold you back!
3. Don’t Just Go Heavy
Arms respond really well to heavy sets, but to stop there would be limiting your potential. There are plenty of slow twitch fibers in your arms which become more “hyper responsive” when higher rep ranges are introduced. My DTP training principle delves into rep ranges most others won’t dare to go. The following sequence is one that works well in arm training:
Set 1 - 50 reps
Set 2 - 40 reps
Set 3 - 30 reps
Set 4 - 20 reps
Set 5 - 10 reps
Set 6 - 10 reps
Set 7 - 20 reps
Set 8 - 30 reps
Set 9 - 40 reps
Set 10 - 50 reps
This provides a really broad spectrum of rep ranges within one workout which helps you activate more muscle fibers in a single workout. My arms have gained size and thickness by using this principle for many years, as have hundreds of millions of other people around the world.
4. Supersets, Drop Sets, and Giant Sets Really Work
To inflict more punishment on your biceps and triceps I’d highly recommend using more advanced training techniques such as:
Each training modality provides new opportunities to challenge the muscle fibers within your arms for extra growth. It’s very intelligent to train your arms in a way which constantly introduces new styles of stimulus, which all of these techniques do. Sometimes I will superset biceps and triceps together, while other times I might do straight drop sets to push the same muscle to true failure.
5. Extreme Blood Flow Helps
To help expand the arms, it’s a good idea to train in a fashion which encourages extreme blood flow. These approaches will help promote blood flow:
- Stretch the fascia. The tissue surrounding the muscle can sometimes restrict growth within any muscle, including the arms. Thoroughly stretching this tissue is difficult, but worth it.
- Increase sarcoplasmic levels within the arm through higher rep training.
One of the main benefits of my DTP training principle is the level of blood it forces into the muscle. On arm day, there’s nothing like hitting a DTP pyramid after sipping down PRE-KAGED pre-workout. The pump is so extreme you’d swear the skin around your arms is about to burst!
6. Don’t Only Use Free Weights
Free weights should always be included in your workouts, but there are times when exploring other options can prove to be very rewarding. Cable-based exercises are one of the best ways to train your arms due to the increased tension on your muscles. In fact, it’s the perfect way to complement a DTP arm workout.
My advice would be to use cable exercises for a more isolated approach to training. Slow your rep tempo down and put more mental focus into visualizing the muscle growing. If it worked for Arnold it can work for you!
7. Unilateral Exercises Are Important!
Something which a lot of people suffer with is shoulder mobility problems. This means that one arm might be slightly more engaged than the other when doing bilateral exercises. To help prevent imbalances from developing, I always encourage athletes to include plenty of unilateral exercises in every arm workout you complete.
This also gives you extra mental capacity to focus on one specific muscle at a time!
Let’s not forget that the proper application of these tips in the gym is a crucial factor! You can have all of the best tactics for arm growth available, but if you’re not applying them correctly with solid effort, they simply won’t work.
My mindset has always been the same when it comes to training - annihilate the target muscle with every ounce of energy you have available on that day.
If you’re able to conjure up the mental tenacity to do this, in conjunction with the practical advice I’ve given you, then your arms are going to expand rapidly.