There is a lot of hype on the web promising quick and easy paths to arm training glory. Most of this hype promising fantastic arm growth in a matter of days comes from self-proclaimed “bodybuilding experts” who claim that you can build big, muscular arms with trendy tricks and minimal training effort.
Instead of criticizing “experts” who spout nonsense, I’ll give you the basics on how to build big, muscular arms naturally with patient and dedicated training. And by the way, if you’re wondering if you should follow any of my advice, keep in mind that I’ve used the arm training fundamentals discussed in this article to build my own 20-inch set of GUNS. In other words, my advice is based on tried and true experience so you can be sure that this training method works.
One of the most important elements of any training activity is preparing your body for the work ahead. Before you start your arm training workouts, you need to make sure you warm up properly. A warm-up gently stretches and flexes your muscles to increase cardiovascular activity and send blood and oxygen to the muscles you want to train.
I recommend warming up with 1-2 sets of standing EZ Bar Curls for the biceps, 1-2 sets of Lying Skull Crushers for the triceps, and 1 set of Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curls for the forearms before each workout. arms training session. For each exercise, the weight should be extremely light to provide only minimal resistance. A good rule of thumb for your warm-up exercises is to use a weight that will allow you to complete 15-20 repetitions with minimal effort.
Even if you’re starting your arm workout after you’ve trained other parts, don’t be fooled into thinking you’re “warmed up” and your arms are ready for your mass-building workout. Also, be sure to warm up with the same attention to proper training technique that you’ll use in your working sets. Remember, spending a few minutes warming up is time well spent, as this warm-up can prevent muscle soreness or injury.
The Pyramid or Overload Principle
As you train your arms, you’ll discover how much weight to lift to encourage growth in your biceps, triceps, and forearms. The absolute amount of weight will vary with each exercise based on your strength and endurance levels.
However, as a guide for the relative amount of weight you should use to stimulate muscle growth, I’ve found that 70-85 percent of my “one rep” max with proper technique is best for these purposes. In other words, if your one-rep max for standing EZ bar curls is 100 pounds, you should initially complete your working sets with a weight between 70 and 85 pounds.
During the mass-building phase of your arm training program, the “pyramid principle” requires you to gradually increase the amount of weight lifted during your working sets. As the amount of weight increases, the number of repetitions performed in each set decreases. A sample pyramid set for standing EZ bar curls with a 100 pound one rep max would be as follows:
Set #1 – 10 reps x 70 pounds
Set #2 – 8 reps x 75-80 pounds
Set #3 – 6 reps x 80-85 pounds
One repetition max – 100 pounds
The progressive overload of your arms that results from “pyramidization” causes the breakdown and remanufacturing of proteins and other essential substances for muscle growth. As you continue to overload your arms to stimulate this process, also known as protein synthesis, your muscle fibers will grow and increase the size of your arms.
If you can’t work through 70-85 percent of your one-rep max at the start of your mass-building program, don’t worry about it. Just find an amount of weight that challenges you to complete a set of 10, 8, and 6 reps and gradually increase the resistance from there. While you shouldn’t aim for a one-rep max every workout, this power check can periodically serve as a benchmark for tracking strength gains and ensuring you’re using enough weight during your power sets. worked.
When your one-rep max increases or you find you can do more than 10, 8, or 6 reps as you pyramid through your working sets, then it’s time to increase the amount of weight for each of these sets to continue to stimulate muscle growth. The pyramid principle is essential to building big, muscular arms and should be applied during the mass-building phase of your arm training program.
Isolation vs. Compound Exercises
Compound exercises require certain muscle groups to work simultaneously and in coordination. While these movements can place significant stress on a particular muscle area, in most cases compound exercises do not isolate the target muscle enough to stimulate maximum growth. Rather, isolation exercises are specifically aimed at putting maximum resistance on the target muscle area and forcing it to provide the power needed to lift the weight. This doesn’t mean that compound movements like standing barbell curls or upright rows are completely useless for arm strength. But it does mean that your arm training program should consist primarily of isolation movements.
The following is a short list of some of the isolation exercises that I have found effective in developing big, muscular arms:
BICEPS – EZ Bar Preacher Curl; dumbbell preacher curl; concentration curls; plunger curls; Winston Hammer Curl and Alternating Dumbbell Curl.
TRICEPS – Lying EZ Bar Extensions [“Skull Crushers”]; lying alternating dumbbell extensions; triceps pushups and seated triceps dips.
FOREARMS – Focus Hammer Curl; Reverse grip EZ barbell curls and dumbbell wrist curls.
Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and concentrating your arm training efforts on isolation movements will put you on a beeline for superior biceps, triceps, and forearm development.
If you are going to combine isolation exercises with compound movements during your arm training workouts, you should start with isolation training and end with compound exercises. I recommend this sequence for the following reasons.
First, since isolation training puts the most stress on the target muscle area, you should do these exercises before you fatigue. Isolation training demands maximum effort during each repetition, and to maximize the efficiency of your training, you need to work harder on the exercises that work best. In return, these exercises offer you the fastest results in your quest for big, muscular arms.
Second, in most compound movements, the shoulders, chest, and back assist the arms as they complete each repetition. Don’t let such assistance fool your biceps, triceps, and forearms at the start of your workouts. Instead, take advantage of this help when you really need it, that is, after you’ve exhausted your arms with isolation work. This approach allows your compound exercises to complement your isolation training rather than detract from it. Your shoulder, chest and back will help keep your arms working despite the onset of fatigue. This way, your arms train harder and longer than they would if fatigue forced you to stop after the isolation phase.
Third, isolation training requires intense mental focus. I have found that my motivation level and mental focus are highest at the beginning of my workouts. As fatigue sets in and rest intervals increase, you become distracted from the task at hand. To avoid this problem, especially on arm training day, I make sure my isolation training is done while my mind and body are at their strongest.
You may also find that the mental aspects of isolation training require you to perform these exercises at the beginning of your workouts. That way, you’ll ensure that the mind-body connection is essential to successful isolation training.
Remember, basics are still better when it comes to building big, muscular arms. Pyramid sets with a focus on isolation training and proper technique are the keys to building massive biceps, triceps, and forearms. That’s it, plain and simple.