HOW TO GET BIGGER ARMS
Big, sculpted arms never go out of style.
And if you’re a hard gainer who has been wondering how to build bigger arms, I completely understand your struggle.
Maybe you’ve been trying – without success – for months (or years) to increase the size of your arms muscles, and you want a bulletproof way to do it.
You’re in luck.
Today, I am going to make you a big promise: I’m going to help you to build bigger arms in just 22 days…
Here’s the catch: You MUST put in the work. No half-assing it. Just plain old hard work and intensity.
If that sounds good to you, let’s jump right into it. I’m going to break down EXACTLY what you need to do over the next 22 days to grow your arm muscles.
These step-by-step arm workouts will produce incredible results so long as you put in the effort.
ANATOMY OF THE ARMS: THE BICEPS
As always, I want you to see and understand the muscles you’ll be building.
This is essential for helping you understand how to get bigger arms. Establishing that mind-to-muscle connection is pretty damn important if you want to see the best arm training results.
So, let’s start with the biceps muscle.
What we think of as the bicep is actually a two-headed muscle. That’s why it’s called the BI-CEPS.
The biceps muscles are responsible for elbow supination or bringing the elbow up, elbow flexion, and shoulder flexion.
BICEPS LONG HEAD
The long head of the biceps muscle tissue can be found on the outer part of the biceps. It has an attachment at the shoulder, which is why it helps with shoulder flexion.
There are no exercises to specifically isolate the long head but there are exercises that focus most of the work on this side of the muscle.
BICEPS SHORT HEAD
On the inside of your arms, you’ll find the short head of the biceps muscle.
Just like with the long head, there are no isolation exercises for this part of the arm, but you can do specific exercises to hit this side more than the other.
Finally, we have the brachialis, which isn’t actually part of what we think of as the biceps muscle, BUT it plays a really important role in the aesthetics of your arm.
More specifically, it influences how wide your arm looks when someone looks at you head-on.
And depending on how we change our grip during certain bicep exercises, we can activate the brachialis a lot more.
ANATOMY OF THE ARMS: THE TRICEPS
Now we flip to the other side of the arm as we take a closer look at the three heads that make up the triceps muscles.
Similar to the biceps muscles, the triceps brachii has three head. Hence, why they’re called TRI-CEPS.
Found close to the biceps brachialis, the lateral head of the triceps muscles assists with elbow flexion.
The medial head of the triceps helps with elbow extension, but it’s also involved with forearm extension.
The long head of the triceps muscles crosses over the shoulder joint, which is important because it directly contributes to adduction and extension of the arm.
It also helps with elbow flexion.
The long head of the triceps is note worthy because it makes up the bulk of the entire triceps brachii. That means if you want to see serious growth, you really need to target this head of the triceps.
BIGGER ARMS WORKOUT AT A GLANCE
Research shows that the best way to increase muscle protein synthesis is by hitting the target muscle three times per week with about 48 hours of rest in between.
This will help you build more muscle mass. And this has been shown to work exceptionally well for those stubborn muscle groups.
One thing that you can do to skyrocket your gains is to follow a diet that has plenty of healthy proteins. If you’re consuming healthy sources of protein, especially post-workout, you’ll be looking at plenty of arm growth.
One great source of protein after a workout is whey protein.
Continuing with the research, I’ve designed this arm workout specifically based on this type of training schedule.
Here’s the full arm workout at a glance:
As you can see, we’re going to rotate biceps and triceps exercises with one day of rest per week.
Unlike a traditional bro split where arms get their own day with several moves, you’ll work each one three times per week.
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO MY CURRENT WORKOUT?
Right now, you might be asking yourself, “How does this fit in with my current workout?
The beauty of this 22-day arm workout is that it can act as a standalone workout or simply replace all of the arm exercises you’re doing now.
Let’s say that you’re not working out at all, or you aren’t targeting your arms, but your main goal is to increase biceps size and triceps size. In that case, you’re going to follow this plan exactly as it’s laid out. So, day-by-day, you follow the entire 22-day program and nothing else to change.
If you are doing some other workout at the moment, I want you to remove the exercises you currently have that target the biceps and triceps.
That does NOT mean I want you taking out exercises that use your biceps or triceps as supporting muscles. For example, pull-ups and underhand rows do activate your biceps, but the primary focus in these exercises is your back.
Another example would be a bench press. Yes, it uses your triceps, but the triceps are not the target muscle of the exercise.
Guys, I want you removing exercises like bicep curls, chin-ups, overhead triceps extension, and rope pushdowns.
Point being, you’re going to continue to do your current workout as planned. There really shouldn’t be much of a difference in training time.
As for the arm workouts, you’re going to do the exercises from the 22-day workout at the very end of whatever training you’re doing.
WEEK ONE: BIGGER ARMS WORKOUT
It’s time to get started with building bigger arms.
I promise you that we’re going to map it out day-by-day, step-by-step. And everything starts with breaking out the measuring tape.
On the first day of this arm workout, you don’t have to do any work.
Simply take out a tape measure and measure the size of your arms. Be sure to measure it at the highest peak of your biceps and towards the middle of your triceps.
This will be the baseline of what we’ll compare to when we reach Day 22.
It’s what happens on all those days in between where the magic actually happens.
After measuring day is complete, you have your first training session, which is dedicated to biceps.
The first two working days of this program are focused on developing a good mind-to-muscle connection.
My goal is to make sure that you feel what a good contraction is supposed to feel like, and this will help you with your other workouts and overall results.
The exercise for Day 2 is the Incline Waiter Curl.
The Incline Waiter Curl is going to limit the arc or curling movement of the dumbbell, which means you won’t be able to swing the dumbbell.
This curl also ensures you can’t rely on your shoulders for extra help and focuses the range of motion exclusively in the biceps.
As you bring the dumbbell straight up, keep the top of the dumbbell flat, and parallel to the surface of the ceiling.
The peak contraction on the biceps, and the tension that we normally feel in the midrange, is being applied at the top of every single repetition here.
Perform four sets of nine repetitions and you’re done for the day.
On Day 3, we give your biceps a break and focus on the triceps with the Bench Dip.
As I mentioned above, this is an exercise that will ensure you can get a complete contraction of the triceps. Since our arms are back behind our body with the elbows in full extension, we can hit all three heads.
You’re going to perform four sets to muscular failure, which will vary from person to person. Make sure you go until you cannot do anymore reps in good form.
One thing to take note of with this exercise: the positioning of your hands on the bench.
You don’t want your hands facing forward, which can internally rotate your shoulder, and that’s the last thing we want over the next three weeks.
Instead, open your hands up on the bench, and this will put your shoulders in a safer position.
Again, perform four sets to failure and that’s a wrap for the day.
On Days 4 and 5, your focus will be on exercises that make the arm appear wider when looking at it from the front.
When we’re looking at the biceps, it’s not necessarily the biceps that we want to focus on to get that wider arm appearance. Rather, the principles of training for width tell us to look right underneath the biceps at the brachialis.
And we can target the brachialis muscle with Alternating Crossbody Hammer Curls.
This exercise really targets the brachialis while minimizing bicep involvement.
If you’re not working the brachialis in your current workout, I can guarantee you it’s one of the reasons why your arms aren’t filling out the shirt sleeves.
Be sure to really focus on that overhand grip and strong contraction.
Perform four sets of 12 repetitions, striving for full muscular fatigue.
The way you are going to add width to your triceps is by focusing on that little head of the triceps.
The medial head doesn’t really get that much attention, which is unfortunate because it’s the best way to fully lockout the elbow and achieve full extension.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to triceps training is when people cut short that final inch.
Guys, listen up: Make sure you lock out on every repetition for triceps exercises. For Day 5, I’m going to give you two options, both of which allow you to fully extend the arms.
If you’re in a gym with access to a variety of machines, I want you doing the Triceps Pushdown.
But there’s going to be a bit of a twist on this classic exercise.
Put the bar a little further out on your fingers, and then let your wrist bend back casually.
In other words, let your arms get into a little bit more extension.
This takes the forearm muscle out of the movement, and it lets the elbow extension be the main driver.
By doing this, you can actually get into that full lockout position.
Here’s your second option for this triceps day:
If you’re training at home and you have dumbbells, I want you performing the Thumbs-Up Dumbbell Bench Press.
During this movement, make sure you are keeping the elbows nice and tight to target the triceps. You’ll have a hammer-style grip, NOT a reverse grip.
And as you push the dumbbells up, follow them with your thumbs.
In this press-up position, your thumbs are going forward and towards the ceiling more, you’re encouraging full elbow extension.
And by doing that, you’re getting that full lockout and stability of the elbow that’s going to do a great job of recruiting the medial head.
For either exercise, perform four sets of 12 repetitions.
For the next two days, I want to focus on progressive overload for the eccentric contraction. If done correctly, this is one of the main drivers of muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth.
On the flip side, this form of training can be pretty taxing and your muscles are going to need some time to recover. That’s why on Day 8, you get a much-needed recovery day.
But until then, you’re jumping into Day 6, which is a bicep day, and the exercise of choice is going to be the Barbell Cheat Curl.
This shouldn’t be confused with your typical Barbell Curl.
The Cheat Curl is a great way to create eccentric overload and really get the blood pumping.
You allow yourself a little bit of momentum, but not too much – Just a slight bend. We don’t want any crazy angles. And you certainly don’t want to be going all the way back as you bring the barbell up.
Simply lean until you get to the vertical position, and then lock in that position.
From here, focus on the eccentric or lowering portion of the exercise. You’re going to slowly move the weight back down – Don’t just let it drop. In fact, as you lower the weight, you’re going to count to three.
Then you cheat it back up to the top, and drop it down to the count of three again.
Remember that this is an exercise where we are using just a bit of momentum so you don’t need to use lighter weight here.
In fact, I’d recommend a heavier weight but no so heavy that you can’t make it past the first repetition without throwing your back out.
Perform four sets of eight repetitions with a three-second eccentric contraction.
The focus of the final day during your first week is another eccentric overload exercise.
It’s called the PJR Pullover.
Similar to the starting position of a Dumbbell Pullover, you want to slowly lower the dumbbell to get that eccentric overload on the triceps.
This is an exercise that permits you using a heavy weight so to get it back to the top, I’m allowing you to use your lats.
Pull with your lats and get the dumbbell back to the top. The concentric isn’t as important here as what’s happening on the eccentric lowering.
Once you get yourself to the top by using the lats, you shift the focus once again to the triceps, particularly the triceps longhead as you slowly lower the dumbbell.
Just like with the Cheat Curl, you want to lower the dumbbell to a count of three.
Perform four sets of eight repetitions with a three-second eccentric contraction.
That wraps up your arm sessions for this week, which means today is your rest day.
You’ve earned it so make sure to take advantage of it.
No need to try for extra credit so don’t jump into the next part of this workout a day early. Just rest up.
WEEK ONE SUMMARY
Here’s the wrap-up of Week One:
WEEK TWO: BIGGER ARMS WORKOUT
Welcome to your second week of this 22-day arm workout.
You’re immediately going to notice a lot of familiar exercises as you repeat everything you did in Week One, but you’ll notice you might have more sets, reps, or longer eccentric contractions.
Let’s jump right into it.
Back to your Dumbbell Incline Waiter Curls, but this time you’re going to intensify the exercise while creating a better contraction by adding some pulses at the end.
You’re going to do the same exercise with four sets of nine repetitions but on every single repetition you’re adding three quick pulses in that contracted state.
On Day 10, you’re back to Flat Bench Dips, but it’s not enough to only do another set of Dips.
To make this more intense, I want you doing the same thing you did in Day 9, and that’s adding pulses at the top of every contraction.
Perform four sets to failure with three pulses on every repetition.
We return to the Alternating Crossbody Hammer Curl, this time you’re going to increase the weight with an additional five pounds.
BUT you’re still going to perform four sets of 12 repetitions.
You might be thinking, “Jeff, how in the hell am I going to perform 12 reps with five more pounds if I was barely able to get to 12 last time?”
Well, you’re going to grind it out.
And what I mean by that is you’re going to perform sets using the rest-pause technique.
That means you go for as many reps as you can with excellent form.
If you’re feeling pretty rugged toward the end and your form is starting to slip, go ahead and take a rest period of 10 to 15 seconds.
Immediately go into your next repetitions, repeating this rest-pause technique until you reach your final rep.
Back to triceps and guess what: I’m still giving you the option to choose either the Triceps Pushdowns or the Thumbs Up Dumbbell Bench Press.
The caveat here is that you’ll be adding another five pounds to what you did last week.
It doesn’t matter which exercise you select, you’re still adding in another five pounds.
And just like with the biceps exercise on Day 11, I want you using that same rest-pause technique until you reach 12 reps.
Now that we’re back on biceps, you’re probably wondering how I’m going to make this one more intense to spark blood flow and growth.
With our Barbell Cheat Curl, I want you to extend the length of the eccentric contraction.
Before you were doing a three-second count, but this time, I want you counting down to four seconds.
Focus on that controlled lowering of the weight, and perform four sets of eight repetitions.
I hope you didn’t forget about those PJR Pullovers because that’s what you’re doing today.
Instead of that three-second eccentric contraction from last week, you’re doing to extend that to four seconds.
I still want you going heavy here AND I’m still permitting you to use your lats during the concentric contraction ONLY.
So, again, four sets of eight repetitions with a four-second eccentric contraction.
Guess what you’re doing today. Resting!
Seriously, take the day off because you have most certainly earned it.
Stay away from any arm workouts. Walking, cycling, and going out for a hike or something is completely fine and something I’d encourage.
WEEK TWO SUMMARY
Here’s your summary for Week Two:
WEEK THREE: bigger arms workout
It’s do or die, guys. This is the final stretch of this program.
I want you bringing just as much effort during this final week of the arm workout as you did during the first week.
Ready to bring it home?
We come back a final time to the Dumbbell Incline Water Curl, but this time, I want you performing six pulses at the end of EVERY repetition.
Day 17 has you back at your triceps again, and you’ll be targeting them with Bench Dips or Tricep Dips.
At this point, you probably know what’s coming next.
Instead of three pulse contractions at the end of every rep, I want you doing six pulse contractions.
With this final round of performing the Alternating Crossbody Hammer Curl, you’ll be using five more pounds.
In other words, this will be an additional ten pounds from the first time you did the exercise in week one.
And, yes, you get to use the same rest-pause technique until all repetitions are complete.
Whether you performed a Triceps Pushdown or a Thumbs Up Dumbbell Bench Press over the last two weeks, I want you to keep that pattern going.
The difference here is that I want you to increase the weight another five pounds from last week.
In other words, make sure you’re using ten pounds from what you were using on Week One.
And just like yesterday, make sure you’re using that rest-pause technique to ensure that you get all of the repetitions completed.
We’re on the final biceps and triceps combination so go big or go home.
I’m expecting more out of you with this one because I want you to squeeze out the last of those gains before your measuring day on Day 22.
For this final Barbell Cheat Curl, I want you performing a descending pyramid-style eccentric contraction:
That means you’ll perform a five-second eccentric contraction on every repetition. Then you’ll drop down to the four-second eccentric contraction for as many as you can. Then the three-second eccentrics for as many as you can.
And, once you can’t control it for at least three seconds during the eccentric contraction, your set is over.
Our final exercise is the PJR Pullover.
Just like with the Barbell Cheat Curl, I want you starting with that five-second eccentric, moving down to four seconds, and then down to three seconds until you can’t control it anymore.
Give yourself a pat on the back, assuming you can reach your arms up that far, because you have successfully completed my bigger arms program.
WEEK THREE SUMMARY
And now, here’s your wrap-up for the third and final week:
Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for; it’s time to see how you did.
On Day 22, break out that measuring tape once again, and wrap it around your arm at the same measuring points.
Write down those results and admire your handy work.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you are seeing at least an inch of arm size gains. Congrats, guys.
If you’re looking for a complete workout program to see this amount of gains in every muscle group, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs.
- Start off by measuring your arms. Be sure to measure at the highest peak of your biceps and towards the middle of your triceps.
- For the first bicep-tricep combination, focus on developing a mind-to-muscle connection via a peak contraction with the Incline Waiter Curl and Bench Dip.
- The next combination is going to focus on making your arms appear wider when looking from the front. You’ll use the Alternating Crossbody Hammer Curl for biceps, and the Triceps Pushdown OR Thumbs-Up Dumbbell Bench Press for the triceps.
- For the final arm combination, you’ll be focusing on eccentric overload to throw hypertrophy into overdrive. You’ll perform the Barbell Cheat Curl for biceps and the PJR Pullover for triceps.
- Each week will see an increase in either the number of pounds used or seconds of total eccentric contraction.
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.