If you’re like most guys, you probably got into the gym to get bigger arms and a bigger chest, admit it. You didn’t so much as care for the other parts, especially not legs (Neither did I).
Wanting bigger arms comes as no surprise. After all, they are some of the most visible body parts in an everyday setting.
Well, if you’ve come to learn about how to build your arm muscles, so you can whip them out for the next gun show, you’ve come to the right place.
But before achieving Herculean arm status, let’s talk about the fundamentals, the main parts that make it up.
Ah yes, biceps, the favorite part for every man to work out. When most guys think of “working out,” chances are they’re picturing a guy hunched over doing a concentration curl. And it’s not without reason, as the biceps are super fun to work out, and who doesn’t love to see a little bicep pump?
In technical terms, the biceps brachii refers to the two-headed muscle group found at the front of our upper arms. It acts on both the shoulder and the elbow joint, participating in a few movements. The two heads that make this muscle group up are the long and the short head. The long head is responsible for your arm’s abduction, while the short head is responsible for its adduction.
When both heads contract, this makes the arms bend or flex. This is when the size of the muscle becomes most apparent. Moreover, the biceps engage whenever you perform pulling movements and bend your elbows.
Meanwhile, the triceps brachii refers to the muscles found at the back of our upper arms. The “triceps” refers to the three heads that make up this muscle group, namely the medial, lateral, and long head.
The primary function of the triceps brachii is the extension of the forearm at the elbow joint. Additionally, the long head of this muscle group contributes to the adduction and extension of the arm at the shoulder joint.
People love doing curls until failure in hopes of getting gorilla arms, but did you know that triceps are a larger muscle group than biceps?
Whereas the biceps activate during pulling, the triceps activate when pushing. These two muscle groups act as antagonists to one another.
How do I build arm muscles?
While you think that I’ll be listing some of the best isolation exercises that target your arms, we have to go over that misconception. The best way to build muscle mass in your arms is by gaining more muscle mass overall.
Isolation exercises may have their benefits, but big compound movements are the key to significant muscle mass gains. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are prime examples of these movements that best build muscle mass.
The primary factor that makes these movements so effective is that they require you to use multiple muscles at once. Because more muscles are working together, you’re able to lift heavier loads than in a curl or an extension. And because you’re lifting heavier loads, this leads to a noticeable increase in muscle mass.
Here’s a list of the best compound movements you can incorporate to build overall muscle mass:
- Barbell hip raises
- Bench press variations (flat, incline, and decline)
- Barbell hip thrusts
- Parallel dips
Isolation exercises are still good for you.
While compound exercises can lead to the most overall gains, isolation exercises specifically target selected muscle groups. The secret to doing isolation exercises that maximize your gains is to start heavy and end light. With the key to muscle mass being heavier weights, this should come as no surprise. To get those massive arms of your dreams, you’ll need to push the envelope here.
For triceps, this means doing these first:
- Close-grip bench presses
- Floor presses
- Board presses
- Overhead dumbbell presses
- Skull crushers (lying tricep presses)
- Tricep pushdown
And for biceps:
- Straight-bar curls
- EZ-bar curls
- Alternating dumbbell curls
- Hammer dumbbell curls
Do not overtrain.
You should only work your arms out for a maximum of two weeks per week. The muscles in our arms are more prone to overworking, as they’re involved in nearly all upper body movements.
Nutrition above all else.
“20% of your body is made in the gym, while the other 80% is made in the gym.” You’ve probably heard that phrase at least once in your life. Well, it’s true. The truth is that no matter how hard you’ll work out, you’re limited by your food intake.
It’s a rule of thumb to go on a caloric surplus or consume more calories than you burn when your goal is weight gain. You’re probably looking at 3000 kcal/day for most guys. If you’re skinny and have a fast metabolism, you might need to consume even more.
Aside from hitting the optimal calorie intake, you’ll want to monitor your macronutrients too. You should also know that your weight and height have significant impacts on maximum muscle growth.
Muscles grow when they rest. It’s advisable to take ample time to recover, especially from an especially stressful workout. Research suggests that recovery time should be directly proportional to the intensity of your workout.
Track your progress.
To ensure the efficacy of your exercise and diet efforts, you will want to measure your arms’ circumference every week. While tracking your results, you can tweak your diet or workout program depending on your goals.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.