Want Bigger Arms? More Toned Arms?
Strategies to Building Bigger Arms
Let’s face it, some people can increase their arm size by simply brushing their teeth. It’s called genetics. But for those of you who need a little more assistance and need to try a little harder, let’s go over some training techniques that will allow for increased hypertrophy and arm growth.
To begin, let’s first overview a few of the fundamental building blocks for growing ANY muscle.
- Time under tension(TUT): This is the concept of using adequate weight through a full range of motion over a significant period of time. This mechanical stress over time allows for increased strength and fiber recruitment.
- The ‘Pump’: Because of the constant training load, blood essentially can’t escape, causing a pooling effect of blood… referred to as the pump. This concept refers to the accumulation of byproducts such as lactate, creatinine, metabolites, etc. that are caused from the breakdown of muscle tissue and increased fatigue.
There are other factors that contribute to training, but in reference to the arms these are two of the most significant. The combination of these two factors cause muscle damage and an inflammatory response that requires the body to send repair/recovery agents to the damaged muscle. This process then creates stronger, denser tissue over time.
Now that you understand the goal of arm training (TUT and the Pump), let’s go over some techniques to apply to your arm routines that will help you grow your ‘gun show’…
- Grip Variation: Supine (palms up), neutral, pronated, etc… Different grip variations allow for different angles that can hit the multiple heads of both the biceps and triceps.
- Train Triceps MORE: The triceps make up 2/3 of your arm. Therefore, if you want bigger arms, train the triceps more, NOT the biceps.
- Use compound sets: This would refer to alternating between bi/tri movements. Example- do 1 set of hammer curls, then pair it with 1 set of triceps pushdown.
- Use different training modalities: This refers to drop sets, supersets, all biceps, all triceps, compound sets (referenced before), isometric holds, single arm vs. both arms, etc… the more variety you can provide for the arm assault, the better.
- Take a break: People tend to forget the concept that growth and repair only happen OUTSIDE of the gym… not IN the gym. Take home message... Let your arms rest and recover. Some people take the approach of training lagging body parts more frequently and this can have its positive effects. However, try decreasing the training frequency sometimes. See what happens.
Hopefully this can help remind you about your approach and the ultimate goals of arm training. We all want a good set of arms so train smart, efficient, and with purpose.
Some of our favorite arm routines are listed below:
John Hornung, MS, CSCS, SCCC