how to build bigger arms
Whether you’re an athlete or not, it’s amazing how much you can say about your strength levels…WITHOUT SAYING A WORD.
Just by the size of your arms!
Ultimately your ability to fill those shirt sleeves will come down to how hard and how often you’re doing your arm training. However, most guys who want to build muscle mass in the arms end up doing hours of the wrong types of upper body exercises.
What if I told you there were two important areas that you should be focusing on when lifting weights to build your arms MUCH FASTER?
To start with, whoever told you that biceps peaks are strictly genetic is dead wrong! I’m going to give you one tip that will help you start building taller, bigger biceps right away.
Additionally, many people neglect just how important the triceps are to adding size to the arms. We’ll fix that with my number one best tip for increasing triceps width.
No matter who you are, these two tips will help you build thicker more intimidating arms FAST!
TIP #1: HEIGHTEN THOSE BICEPS
When it comes to being able to build bigger biceps, we need to work on biceps height, also known as the biceps peak.
What is it that creates these peaks?
It’s the long head of the biceps brachii that is largely responsible for the mountain-like shape of the biceps peak.
You guys know I don’t ever flex just to show off, but in this case I’ll make an exception so you can visualize the long head of the biceps.
The long head is the one on the outside of the biceps that has a high peak form.
So how do we target the long head in our biceps workout to start building up those peaks?
Because the long head attaches farther up the shoulder than the short head does, we can favor the long head with biceps exercises that start with the arm in an extended position behind the body.
If we really want to see significant muscle growth, we need to choose a bicep exercise that we can load with heavy weights. You can do this with an incline dumbbell biceps curl, but you won’t be able to lift as much weight with it as you can on the biceps exercise that I’m about to show you!
The Bent Over Row Curl is more of an arm mass builder because we can load more weight onto the bar.
We’re going to start out with elbows behind the body in a regular barbell curl position and drag it up the thighs. Your fingers are hooked, and you don’t want to start curling too much or rowing too much… just drag the bar up the thighs. Once you get up to about level with your waist, then you curl up and down.
You can use a little bit heavier weight and a little bit of momentum in this exercise.
BENT OVER ROW CURL
Exercise Notes: Starting position is with feet shoulderwidth apart, hands gripping a barbell with an underhand grip. Bend your elbows slightly, palms facing away from your body at the bottom portion of a curl. Begin to drag the barbell upward along your thigh with elbows tucked into your sides and then curl the weight toward your chest. Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat.
Form Tips for the Bent Over Row Curl
- Elbows behind the body
- Hook your fingers and drag up the thighs
- At waist level, perform bicep curls
- You can load this heavy and it’s ok to use momentum in this exercise
TIP #2 THICKEN THOSE TRICEPS
Did you know that roughly two-thirds of arm mass is determined by the size of your triceps?
This little known fact gives us a great opportunity to tap into the strength of the triceps and their ability to add width to the shape of your arms.
Just like with the biceps it’s the long head of the triceps that make up the bulk of the muscle. If you can put the triceps on a bigger stretch, you’ll be able to handle more weight and get a stronger contraction in the long head, allowing you to see muscle gains much faster!
First, let’s identify the long head of the triceps.
It’s the most prominent thing you see when you look at the triceps from behind.
So how do we ensure we’re hitting that long head?
It attaches higher up on the shoulder, so we want to make sure we can put that on stretch and load it with heavier weight.
We’re going to take a variation of skull crushers and tweak it a bit.
With this exercise you want to make sure that you never go completely vertical with the press because it takes all the tension off your triceps at the point at which your arms are straight up over your chest. Instead you’ll want to start with your arm back a least a little bit on stretch.
But to really amp it up and get even more stretch on the long head of the triceps, we’re going to add a pullover movement in these Lying Triceps Extensions.
So we begin with our arms back a bit on stretch, and then down slowly, reach back, pull forward, stop it and use your triceps to come up the rest of the way.
LYING TRICEPS EXTENSION
Exercise Notes: Lie face up on a bench with a barbell in your hands, with an overhand grip, elbows angled behind your head. Straighten the elbows and bring arms straight until the barbell is over the top of your forehead. Then slowly lower back down and repeat.
FORM TIPS FOR LYING TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
- Don’t begin with arms perpendicular to the body
- Instead, begin with arms back on stretch a bit
- Add a pullover at the bottom point of the movement for additional stretch on the long head
- Use the force of your triceps to return to the top
These are my two best exercises to add to your biceps and triceps workout to help you build bigger arms really quickly. The Bent Over Row Curl will help you build biceps peaks and the Lying Triceps Extensions will widen out your triceps. Wait until you see just how much you can lift on these two exercises and how fast you can increase arm size!
Whether you have to step out on the field in competition, or if you’re just looking to be a better version of yourself as a non-athlete, learning how to train like an athlete will not only help you look like one, but also perform like one.
Imagine what 90 days of training this way could do for your gains (and how quickly you seem them)! If you’re ready to get not just big arms, but six pack abs and an athletic body check out our ATHLEAN-X Training Programs.
- Nothing is more impressive than a set of big arms hanging out of those shirt sleeves. But, most people training arms don’t do the right exercises or target the right part of the muscles in their arm exercise routine.
- The long head of the biceps is responsible for the infamous biceps peak, and to build it you need to put the arm into extension behind the body and load it with heavy weight. The Bent Over Row Curl is the ideal exercise to add to your arms workout plan for this purpose.
- About two-thirds of the size of the arms is determined by the triceps, and it’s the long head of the triceps that is most responsible for increasing triceps size. The Lying Triceps Extension puts the triceps on stretch to help you target the long head with heavier weight.
- The Bent Over Row Curl adds height to the arms while the Lying Triceps Extension adds width to the triceps. If you include both in your arm workouts, you’re on your way to a bigger, stronger arms that will command serious attention!
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.