When it comes to building massive arms that hug your shirt sleeves, there are countless exercises you can do that will all produce results. For most people, however, the exercises they are doing are not the reason for their inability to increase their arm size.
Although there could be countless reasons for your lagging biceps and triceps, your arm workout is not likely the culprit. The biggest mistakes people make when focusing on arm development has more to do with the principles than the actual workouts themselves.
You see, the biceps and triceps have very simple functions and I can almost guarantee you are already training them. But in the event that you fear your workouts are the problem, let me quickly go over the functions of the upper arm.
Functions of the Biceps
- Elbow Flexion: This one is pretty straight forward right? The biceps are responsible for flexing the elbow, hence why we perform curling movements to train them.
- Supination: Taking your forearm from a neutral position (palms facing each other) to a supinated position (palms facing up). Hence why we perform supinated biceps curls.
Functions of the Triceps
- Elbow Extension: The main function of the triceps is very simple. They take the arm from a flexed position into an extended position. Hence why any triceps exercise requires elbow extension.
Now the triceps are made up of three major heads, hence the name tri-ceps. The lateral head, the long head, and the medial head. And although they all fire together and cannot be isolated over one another, there are a few different exercises you can do in order to emphasis one over the other. In the video below I go over the simple anatomy as well as the 3 triceps movements you can do in order to bring up any lagging head(s) you may have.
3 Arm Workout Strategies for Sleeve Ripping Guns!
Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s dig into 3 arm workout strategies you can start implementing today for packing on mass to your biceps and triceps using the exercises you’ve already been doing.
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Best Arm Workout for Mass Strategy #1 – Increase The Frequency
Frequency: The number of times you train a specific muscle group in a week.
Are you training your arms once per week and seeing zero progress? It’s no surprise as to why you are having trouble building your arms…you’re not getting the benefits of high frequency training!
Most people would argue that training your arms more than once per week, directly, will result in overtraining because they are such a small muscle group. Problem with that theory is, science has already disproven it and proven something known as the repeated bout effect.
The Repeated Bout Effect is what happens when we train a certain muscle group, often. Our body naturally adapts to the consistent stimulus by becoming more efficient at recovering from the stress. This happens as a form of our body saying “oh shit, we are going to do this again soon so we better be ready”.
If we can recover faster, that means our body is repairing and priming itself to handle the stress again quicker. This now allows us to train any given muscle group more frequently which allows for elevated protein synthesis to occur more often. The more frequently we can elevate protein synthesis, the more time our body is spending building new muscle.
Best Arm Workout for Mass Strategy #2 – Progressive Overload
Progressive Overload requires a gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency and most of all, workload. In this context, workload is defined as follows: Workload is the total number of repetitions multiplied by the resistance used as performed in specific periods of time.
Biceps Dumbbell Curl Example:
20 lbs x 10 = 200 lbs
20 lbs x 10 = 200 lbs
20 lbs x 8 = 140 lbs
20 lbs x 8 = 140 lbs
Total Workload = 680 lbs
It’s no secret that progressive overload is the main key to continually building muscle over time. As long as you can continue to progress by adding new stress to a muscle, it has no choice but to grow. Unfortunately, most people forget this basic principle in their arm training and end up curling 20 lbs dumbbells for years…and yet they wonder why their biceps aren’t getting bigger.
If you want to build bigger arm muscles, you have to force your body to need them in order to handle the stress. Because your body has already adapted to the stimulus provided by the exercise, it won’t be forced to grow any more until the stress is increased in order to induce an adaptation response. Your goal should be very simple…perform better each time you walk in the gym by slightly increasing the total workload without sacrificing intensity, volume, and rest periods.
Finding it impossible to lift heavier without sacrificing reps? Try this killer arm training technique to help increase the lactate threshold making it much easier to handle a heavier load for a longer period of time.
Best Arm Workout for Mass Strategy #3 – Training the WEAKEST Point of the Strength Curve
The strength curve is a graphical representation of how the human body generates and applies force in a specific direction.
In the strength curve we have the position where the muscle is at its strongest and the position in which it is as the weakest. The majority of trainees fail to focus on the weakest point of the strength curve because it hurts their ego in the gym. Unfortunately, failing to strengthen the weakest point of any lift is going to ensure that we plateau and get stuck at some point or another. I am sure there are more than a few lifts you can think of right now that you’ve been stuck with for weeks or even months…am I right?
When it comes to the biceps and triceps, the strength curve is similar. In both of these muscles, the weakest point of the strength curve occurs when the muscle is fully lengthened and the strongest point occurs when it is fully shortened.
Biceps: The biceps are fully shortened at the top of the range when they are contracted. They are fully lengthened at the bottom of the range when the antagonist muscles (the triceps) are flexed. With that said, rather than focusing on coming down “all the way” before curling the weight, bring the weight all the way down until you have flexed the triceps. Once the triceps are flexed, this means that the biceps ate lengthened and at their weakest. Commence to lift the weight from this position for an optimal range of motion for maximal hypertrophy.
Triceps: The triceps are fully shortened when the arm is fully extended and they are contracted. They are fully lengthened when the antagonist muscle (the biceps) are flexed. With that in mind, instead of allowing the weight on the pulley to come up half way before extending again, allow your arms to come up far enough that your biceps and forearms touch. Once you have achieved this position, you have ensured that the triceps are at their weakest and thus can commence to extend the elbow.