Arms are another fun area to build muscle. Strong, powerful arms are not only useful to have in sports, but they look great. This may sound vain, but arms are one of the first things people notice and compliment when you’ve been working out. Even so, it is always nice to hear that your hard work is paying off.
The key to building strong arms is no different than it is for any other part of your body. You have to slowly increase the weights you lift, you have to make weight lifting a part of your lifestyle and you have to eat right. For more information about these topics, take a look at our fundamentals of building muscle article.
Arm Muscle Building: Biceps and Triceps
Your triceps and biceps are the two main pieces of your arm. Shoulders may also count, but shoulders get their own article. For the purposes of this article, we are going to talk about building your biceps and triceps.
People usually go about building arms in one of two ways. They either dedicate a day to working on their arms or they work on biceps and triceps on separate days with different body parts. For example, I like to work on Chest and Triceps on one day, then do Back and Biceps on the next day.
Bicep Muscle Building Exercises
It is easy to get into a bad groove with arm muscle building. Remember that with all these exercises, you want to increase the weights on a regular basis. I have caught myself several times getting used to doing ten reps of a certain weight every time I hit the gym. The key is to slowly increase the amount of weight you lift with each exercise.
The preacher curl is a great exercise for isolating the bicep muscle. This exercise uses an EZ curl bar and the preacher bench. To perform the preacher curl, sit at the preacher bench and grasp the EZ curl bar with an underhand grip. With your upper arms on the pad, bend your elbows and curl the bar up to your chin, then slowly lower the bar back down until you feel a comfortable stretch.
This is a simple exercise that can be done just about anywhere, provided you have a dumbbell handy. The concentration curl is performed by sitting down on a low bench with your elbow resting against the inside of your thigh. From there, you hold a dumbbell with your palm facing up. From here, you simply curl the bar up until it is just beneath your chin.
Standing Cable Curls
This exercise is performed at a cable machine. Set the cable pulley at its lowest setting and attach a straight bar or the short EZ curl bar to the cable. While standing, you now perform two-handed curls similar to what you did in the preacher curl. Only this time, you are standing.
Make sure you practice strict form with this exercise. It is easy to get into a bad habit of leaning back excessively and using your body weight to help curl the bar. Perfect form will give you the greatest benefit and prevent injuries. If your form starts to suffer, try using a lighter weight.
Dumbbell Preacher Hammer Curls
This lift is performed at the preacher curl bench with dumbbells instead of the EZ curl bar. You can sit or stand at the preacher bench and use one hand at a time to curl a normal dumbbell. The barbell is held so that it is perpendicular to the floor, with your palm facing inwards. This is a good exercise to use if standard preacher curls cause excessive pain in your forearms.
Tricep Muscle Building Exercises
The triceps should never be neglected in your training regimen. Not only do triceps make up a large part of the “mass” in your arm, but they also help you perform other lifts. Strong triceps help with your bench press and they come in handy in most athletic activities.
Lying Tricep Extensions + Press
This is an awesome triceps exercise that I recommend to everyone for massive arms. Lay down on a flat bench with an EZ curl bar or fixed barbell. Grab the bar with your hands slightly closer together than shoulder width and hold the bar above you as if you are about to bench press it.
The actual starting position for this exercise is with the bar held above your face rather than above your chest. This starting position is used so that your arms can never fully relax. From this starting position, you now bend your elbow and slowly lower the weight towards your forehead. Now come back up again. Try to keep your upper arms still the entire time.
After you complete 6-12 repetitions, immediately switch to presses. Do 6-12 bench presses with your hands in the same position. This exercise will destroy your triceps like no other.
Stand in front of the cable machine with the pulley set at the highest level. Attach a triangle bar or flat bar to the cable. Grab the bar with your hands and tuck your upper arms to your sides. Using your triceps only, pull the bar downwards until your arms are fully extended. Slowly lower the weight to the starting position.
This is another solid exercise for the triceps. Remember to use perfect form at all times. You should not use your bodyweight to help push the bar down. The only joint that should move is your elbows. Everything else should be frozen in place.
The dip is a simple exercise that works wonders for the triceps. Stand in front of a dip machine and grab both handles with your palms facing inwards. Now get up off the floor and support your body weight with your arms. Slowly lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel with the floor and then rise back up again, using your triceps to do all the work.