Here’s my promise straight up at the start of this post…
If you do everything I’m about to tell you, you’ll have bigger and far more impressive arms very very soon. Within the next few weeks other people will be commenting on your new arm size.
The first thing you need to be concerned with is using the best exercises.
(1) USE THE BEST EXERCISES
Some exercises suck and are simply not effective. Some equipment is also pretty much useless.
So the first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re using movements that are actually effective for stimulating growth.
So how about using science to tell us what the very best exercises are? That’s what I did when putting together Targeted Hypertrophy Training.
All the most effective exercises for all body parts based on the results of electromyography [EMG] tests (and many years of personal testing) are clearly listed in my THT Exercise Bank, which you can download for free below…(if the button doesn’t work use this link or you can learn more about THT training here).
THE BEST BICEP EXERCISES
For the biceps, the most effective exercises are:
- Chin-ups (underhand grip)
- Close-grip palms-up pulldowns (underhand grip)
- Cable Preacher Curls (or machine preacher curls)
- Lying Cable Curls
- Standing Barbell Curls
- Standing Dumbbell Curls (alternating)
- Concentration Curls
- EZ Bar Curls
- Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls
THE BEST TRICEP EXERCISES
For the triceps, the most effective exercises are:
- Tricep Dips (weighted)
- Close-grip Bench Press
- Decline Tricep Extension (barbell or EZ bar)
- Decline Cable Tricep Extension (low cable)
- Cable Bent-Over Triceps Extensions
- Cable Tricep Pushdowns
- Low Cable Kickbacks (or dumbbell kickbacks)
- Behind-the-head Dumbbell Tricep Extensions (one-arm)
- One-Arm Reverse Pushdowns
Additionally, you can work the Brachialis with:
- Pinwheel Curls
(2) PERFORM NEGATIVES UNDER FULL CONTROL
I have always completed the negative/lowering part of a rep more slowly than the positive/lifting. This point is a lot more important than most people realize.
When you perform your negatives under full muscular control – using the intended muscle to lower the weight slowly and not letting gravity do the work – you recruit more muscle fibers in that intended muscle. More muscle fiber recruitment maximizes the amount of potential growth stimulation.When you do your negatives under full control you recruit more muscle fibers Click To Tweet
(3) FEEL THE MUSCLE, NOT THE WEIGHT
I have always been careful to make the muscle I’m working do the work – and put my mental focus on that muscle while I’m working it. Arnold said that he used to close his eyes and put his focus on the intended muscle during his sets. This is great advice.
Don’t get caught up in the numbers game – the numbers game kills gains. Stop trying to lift the heaviest weights possible or competing with others to see “who can bench the most”. If you’re serious about building muscle, you had better involve as many fibers as possible and HURT them. Stop throwing around mega weight to impress others – this is not about your ego.
Some people can bench tons and have no pecs. Others who train properly have moderate lifts but big, sculpted, symmetrical pecs.
For the past year or so, in an effort to hammer this point home, I tell people not to think of this game so much as “weight lifting”, but rather “muscle stimulating”. Your purpose in going into the gym is to stimulate muscle tissue to grow – that’s it. Have this phrase burned into your mind before every set and it will help tremendously.
Get a great contraction at the top, keep constant tension on the muscle involved, and perform your negatives under full muscular control – this is feeling the muscle, not the weight.To build muscle, feel the muscle, not the weight when training Click To Tweet
(4) THE RIGHT NUMBER OF SETS & REPS
So now you know what exercises to do and how to do them properly. You now need to know how many sets and reps to do.
This topic is a book in itself. And I recommend that you download my THT routine to fully explain what to do and why you are doing it that way.
But in short, it depends on whether you are doing a full-body routine or split routine.
For a split routine, about 8 or 9 sets each for the biceps and triceps works best. Only 2 or 3 exercises are needed for each muscle. So this might look like so:
5-DAY SPLIT WORKOUT
- Tricep Cable Pushdowns x 3 sets
- Cable Bent-Over Tricep Extensions x 3 sets
- Decline Tricep Extensions x 2 sets
- Pinwheel Curls x 2 sets
If you are working the whole body in a single workout, each muscle gets less sets than a split routine, but you’ll hit all muscles (biceps and triceps included) 3 times per week.
FULL BODY WORKOUT
So each of these 3 workouts would look like so on THT training:
Your Monday & Friday Workout
- Squats x 2 sets (legs)
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Presses x 2 sets (chest)
- Calf Raises x 2 sets (calves)
- Weighted Reverse Crunches x 2 sets (abs)
- Overhead Barbell Press x 2 sets (shoulders)
- Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls x 2 sets (BICEPS)
- Seated Cable Rows x 2 sets (lats)
- Tricep Cable Pushdowns x 2 sets (TRICEPS)
- Shrugs x 2 sets (traps)
- Dumbbell Wrist Curls x 1 set (forearms)
So on Monday and Friday we hit our biceps with 2 sets of Seated Incline Dumbbell curls, and work our triceps with 2 sets of Tricep Cable Pushdowns. Let’s have a look at Wednesday…
Your Wednesday Workout
- Deadlifts x 3 sets (back)
- Deep Dips x 2 sets (chest)
- One-Arm Dumbbell Rows x 2 sets (lats)
- Overhead Dumbbell Presses x 2 sets (shoulders)
- Concentration Curls x 2 sets (BICEPS)
- Cable Bent-Over Tricep Extensions x 2 sets (TRICEPS)
- Leg Presses x 2 sets (legs)
- Leg Extensions x 1 set (legs – quads)
- Leg Curls x 1 set (legs – hamstrings)
On Wednesday it’s Concentration Curls and Bent-Over Tricep Extensions. 2 sets of each exercise to failure. For those who ask me, “Can I do a 3rd set?” Yes, try it – read this.
THE RIGHT REP RANGE
You’ll take 2-3 minutes rest between sets and work in the 8-12 rep range. What this means is that for each and every set the weight needs to be heavy enough to not allow you to get more than 12 reps, but it needs to be light enough so you can get at least 8. This will involve a little ‘trial and error’ on your first 1 or 2 THT workouts, but it’s well worth the gains you are going to get.
If you got 8 or 9 reps on the first set of a particular exercise, you will need to knock off about 10% of the weight for the 2nd set to allow you to and rep to positive failure again between 8 and 12 reps.
(5) (OPTIONAL) DO AN “ARMS BLAST”
I like to throw in my arms blast workout every so often to use “hyper-intensity” to stimulate additional gains. These extreme techniques are so intense that you can’t do them very often.
I personally like to do a blast once every 10 weeks. But you can do any of my blast programs once every 5 weeks.
Since we train in 10-week cycles on THT before taking a week off, you can do a blast workout on week 1, 5, and 10 in addition to your regular THT training (how to incorporate a blast session into your THT training is covered in the books themselves).
So that’s it. That’s how I sculpted muscular arms over the years, despite my less-than-great genetics for building muscle.
Honestly, the best thing you can do right now is download the full and free THT workout and apply these training techniques to all your body parts. You’ll be amazed at how fast you can gain when you start training correctly.
Train With Intensity!