They’re what 90% of the gym population train and we can’t get away from the fact that deep down, we all want them. ‘Big Guns’ are the first thing we tense in the mirror and let’s face it, look great in tight t-shirts (they’d even look good in a string vest). However, getting big arms isn’t as simple as many people may think. There are many myths that need debunking and a few key points to bear in mind that will help you build bigger arms faster.
Use a full range of motions
You should already know by now that form is twice as important as weight but intertwined in this argument is making sure you use the full range of motion an exercise has to offer. Too many people increase weight prematurely for a number of reasons and form suffers. For example, while curling a barbell, the weight should start and finish close to your waist and reach close to your chest. Not only does this mean you’re lifting an adequate weight but you’re also hitting as many muscle groups as possible and by lowering the weight slowly, you’re decreasing chance of injury. How many donkeys do you see swinging the weights up, using there back and legs more than their biceps? A fair few I bet and they’re doing very little for their biceps.
Use a full range of exercises
Changing your routine in a variety of ways not only means the way you train, but just as importantly, the type of exercise you perform. For each muscle group there are a variety of exercises you should be utilising at different times to make sure you hit every muscle and maximise your time in the gym. Repeating the barbell curl will become extremely ineffective over time so trying different exercises with differing speeds and intensity’s can only aid muscle growth.
Bicep exercises such as concentration curls; hammers; preacher curls; and triceps exercises such as the cable pushdown; dumbbell extensions; and dips, are just some of the exercises that should be utilised.
It’s also important to realise that several compound exercises can hit your arm muscles too. The chest press and shoulder press are great for the triceps and the narrow-grip chin up is as good for the bicep as any other exercise. Isolation exercises such as the tricep kick-back are often a relative waste of time.
Train the Forearm
Forearm exercises can play an important part in strengthening your arm and improving forearm muscle strength and grip, equally important to maintain for a range of other gym exercises. Reverse curls and Hammer curls work that part of your arm and compound exercises such as the Dead-lift, aid both grip and forearm strength.
Ensure adequate nutrition and supplementation
As with all muscle groups, a healthy diet, combined with the right supplementation play a huge part in the development of those muscles. The time you spend in the gym is only as good as the nutrients your body can use to repair those muscles at the right times.
Although all muscle groups need rest between training sessions, your arm muscles are more susceptible to over training than most other body parts and you should probably only train your biceps and triceps twice a week. That said, it is also more effective when training to push your arm muscles to exhaustion over shorter periods of time. Try training your arms twice a week for around 20-30 minutes each time, leave less time in-between sets and push yourself to exhaustion each set.
Just train your bicep
You’d be surprised how many people focus on bicep exercises, ignoring the other half of your upper arm, the triceps. Although your biceps are the first thing you tense up in a showdown with your mates, triceps are more prominent than you realise, especially when your arms are relaxed and t-shirts need filling. Focus the same intensity and time as on your biceps, unless you want a rather oddly shaped physique. Remember, symmetry is the key to success.