During my first few years of training, I was able to increase my strength by a huge amount. I went from chest pressing 12kg dumbbells to being able to bench 100kg on a barbell within a couple of years. Looking at me you would never have thought I could perform heavy lifts.
Despite my increase in strength, I never ‘looked’ strong. I would go to the gym and lift the same or close to the same as a lot of the guys in there who were twice the size of me.
I had conditioned my body purely for strength training without ever knowing, doing heavy lifts for 4-5 reps at a time without ever understanding the concept of hypertrophy.
I just wanted to lift as heavy as I could, which is a familiar pattern in guys coming through at the gym.
I became broad shouldered, but still had two skinny arms hanging down by the side which I was always self-conscious about.
Despite being able to lift heavy, if you saw me in a T-shirt you would not consider that I was capable of the lifts I was able to notch out.
I trained arms occasionally, but again using the concept of ‘heavy is better’ which led to me to doing lots of partial reps, with bad form and probably activating my chest, shoulders or back more than my actual arms.
Now I look much more athletic, with arms that stand out more and I made this change within just a few months.
Every guy wants to have bigger arms. A T-shirt hugging arm gives off the first impression that you are someone who is powerful, who takes care of themselves, who can protect and they will therefore give you more respect and the attention that most people desperately crave.
I applied the principles below and was able to increase the size of my arms within a month then two months and then even more after 3, quicker than I had done for 5 years.
Full range of motion:
When performing exercises specifically for arms, choose a weight that you can perform where you can completely extend or curl the arm for a full range of motion. For example, when performing a bicep curl, you should aim to straighten the arm completely when on the return phase or at the bottom of the lift. This goes for any type of curling exercise.
Concentric contraction hold:
When pulling the weight towards the body (Concentric contraction) during a bicep curl, hold the weight at the top of the motion for 1 second and squeeze or tense the biceps before slowly lowering (eccentric contraction) back down. For any triceps exercise, just reverse the motion so that when you are at full extension at the bottom of the push you squeeze the triceps before coming back up.
When in the lowering phase of the lift (Eccentric phase) you should control the weight as much as possible and not simply just drop it back into the starting position. This will cause the muscles to be under tension for much longer during the whole set thus promoting more growth.
I have listed a wide range of bicep exercises which you can pick and choose from and can refer to as your ‘library’ for exercises:
Standing barbell curl
Incline Dumbbell curls
Preacher curls (Barbell/Dumbbell/EZ)
To stretch and lengthen:
Seated Dumbbell curls
To heighten peak:
Lying dumbbell curls
Two hand cable curls
Close grip exercises
Alternate dumbbell curls
To develop outside of biceps:
Reverse preacher bench curls
Close grip – Inner biceps
Wide grip – Outer biceps
Hammer grip – Forearms and inner bicep
Triceps cable pushdown
Standing triceps press
Lying triceps extension
One arm triceps extension
Reverse grip pushdown
One arm cable reverse pushdown
Seated triceps press
Lying dumbbell extension
Lying cross face triceps extension
Primary training goals:
Quite often, training arms can fall to the end of the pile when training upper body, which comes as the secondary part of training and done at the end of the session. If you solely want to focus on increasing the size of your arms, doing big lifts will get you there eventually but why not speed up the process and dedicate more time and sessions to training arms. You could choose two days a week where you focus solely on training arms, or train them at the start of the session before you train chest, back or shoulders. Yes, you might not lift as much but if your primary goal is to build some arms then this may well be worth considering.
Sets & Reps:
Dedicate more time to training arms. A simple 3 sets of 10 will not get you anywhere fast. Start training in different rep ranges. Sometimes you even do 5 sets of 15 reps. 4 sets of 12. Drop sets, where you do 50 reps in a set. Be creative, do not just stick to the same routines and same exercises which your body has adapted to already. You want them to grow, you need to shock them into new stimulus which does not always mean more weight.
You can do all the reps and sets in the world, but simply put if you do the exercise wrong you will not see the full potential of benefits you can get access to. Keep them elbows hugged into the ribcage for the most part, research the correct from if it is a new exercise and use a full range of motion!
If you integrate these new variables into your workout, you will start to notice a difference within a few months of training and if you continue to follow this philosophy for the following months afterwards, you will be recognisably bigger in the arm department in a shorter period of time.
Grow Your Arms
8 Week Training Programme Specifically Designed For Arm Hypertrophy
>>For more information, training tips, training programmes and posts visit my website tjhealthandfitness.com