While losing weight is ranked as the main reason many people start working out, building arm muscles is a close second. But well-defined weapons don’t happen by accident.
If building arm muscles is your fitness goal, here’s a guide to the best arm exercises, what (and when) you should eat, how often you should train, and the essentials from trainers for building arm strength, size, and shape. Definition of tips and tricks
How to Build Big Arms: 3 Keys to Your Workout
Whether you want to bulk up, get ripped, or just tone up, your goal for building arm muscles should focus on muscle hypertrophy, muscle cell growth, and size gain.
“Building mass, also known as hypertrophy, is based on breaking down and rebuilding muscle,” says Tony Carvajal, a certified CrossFit L-1 and L-2 trainer with RSP Nutrition. “Resistance training is key to hypertrophy and essential for building muscle mass.”
There are three key components to exercise that help build arm muscles, explains Dr. Curt Escobar, assistant professor of exercise physiology at California State University, Long Beach, and co-director of the Physiology of Exercise and Sport (PEXS) Laboratory. , and masters of biology. Beard. and barbells.
These three components are: intensity, volume and frequency.
To effectively build arm muscles, studies show that you should focus on lifting moderately heavy weights for 65 to 85% of your one-repetition maximum.
“If you’re lifting heavy, heavy weights, you’re not going to be able to do enough repetitions to adequately stress the tissue,” Escobar explains.
Think about the difference between powerlifters and bodybuilders: while the former often lift heavier weights, it’s bodybuilders who have better muscle definition.
Volume, or the number of reps you complete an exercise, is also a key component in building arm muscles.
For hypertrophy training, you want to aim for 8 to 15 repetitions so you can adequately stress those muscles, Escobar recommends. “By increasing your volume, you can put more mechanical load on the muscles which will allow for more muscle growth.”
When you don’t lift to failure (when you can’t complete another rep), you should lift to fatigue, Escobar says.
“If you want to build muscle mass, you want to keep the training frequency high,” says Escobar.
“When you lift weights, you turn on your body’s anabolic machinery, or your body’s way of building muscle, for two days,” Escobar explains. “So you want to try to activate that system as much as possible. When you do it frequently and consistently, it continuously builds muscle protein in that muscle.”
Aim to exercise your arms at least two to three times a week to regularly activate your body’s muscle-building capabilities.
As for cardio, while it may help you get in overall shape, it won’t help you build arm muscles.
If your cardio puts you in a calorie deficit, too much cardio can work against your goals for more defined arms.
Main arm muscles to work
Franklin Antoine, ACE Certified Trainer and founder of iBodyFit, says the upper arms are composed of two main muscle groups: biceps and triceps.
Each muscle group is made up of smaller “heads” – two in the biceps and three in the triceps.
“Working these muscles from multiple angles will help you build muscle faster and more effectively,” Antoine explains.
The easiest way to activate different groups is to alternate your wrist position between a supine position (palms up), a neutral grip (facing in) and a pronate position (palms down).
“While still working the entire muscle as a whole, adjusting your wrist position will increase the contribution of a specific head,” explains Escobar. “By adding variation, you’ll make sure you’re hitting all the different muscles and insertion points for the bicep and tricep muscles.”
But arguably more importantly, changing your grip means changing which muscles you’re targeting — the biceps may be the most visible arm muscle, but it’s not the strongest. If you want sleeve-busting arms, you can’t ignore two other major elbow flexors: the brachialis (the strongest of the elbow flexors) and the brachioradialis.
So for example, hammer curls emphasize the brachialis, while reverse curls emphasize the brachioradialis.
Best exercises for building arm muscles
Ready to work? Let’s take a look at Escobar’s favorite exercises for building arm muscles.
“These exercises specifically isolate muscle groups in the arms. Strenuous bicep and tricep exercises will be used to allow other muscle groups to recover from their training days.”
Be sure to note the wrist position in each – while each exercise works the entire muscle, different wrist positions will change the amount of contribution of the individual heads.
4 Best Bicep Exercises
1. Dumbbell neutral to supinated bicep curl: The biceps aid in supination, and this will fire your brachialis.
2. Barbell Pronounced (Reverse Grip) Bicep Curl: The pronated grip increases the amount of work the brachioradialis is doing during the curl; The brachioradialis goes into the arm so it will help develop the hand.
3. Cross Body Dumbbell Hammer Curl: Each dumbbell move to the opposite shoulder will develop the brachialis, which will help develop a wider-looking arm.
4. EZ Bar Preacher Curl Close Grip: The preacher curl will help isolate the biceps and other elbow flexors, and the close grip will put more emphasis on the long head — which creates the “peak.”
4 Best Tricep Exercises
1. False triceps extension (“skull crusher”): This emphasizes the long head of the triceps.
2. Triceps pushdown with pronounced grip (straight bar): This will emphasize the lateral head – “horseshoe”.
3. Supinated Tricep Pushdown: The supinated grip will emphasize the medial head.
4. Rope Pushdown: It uses a neutral grip that can also emphasize the lateral head.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid
For a workout plan to build your once-arm muscles and dietary support to facilitate muscle building, be sure to avoid these common arm muscle training mistakes:
1. Focus only on the biceps
“Many men neglect their triceps and focus only on their biceps,” says Antoine. “The triceps make up three-fifths of your arms, so it’s best to train them as much or more than your biceps.”
2. Do not disassemble the weapon
Biceps and triceps include many full-body moves, but if building big arm muscles is your goal, be sure to work your arms specifically and intentionally, Escobar says.
3. Over-training without variety
“By doing bicep curls three days a week, you’re overbuilding one area and virtually neglecting other areas in the arm.
Make sure to vary movement and routine patterns, hitting different muscles and allowing for recovery,” advises Carvajal.
In other words, two or three arm workouts a week will help you bulk up, but not if you do the same workout every time—and not if you don’t give yourself enough recovery between sessions.
4. Very light lifting
“Some women may use very light weights because they believe heavy weights will make them bulky,” says Antoine.
Although light weights will help build muscle endurance, they generally will not recruit large muscle fibers that have a greater tendency to grow.
(And have you ever met a woman who got huge biceps by accident? It just doesn’t happen.)
5. Not eating enough
Calories are needed to build muscle, Escobar says. “If you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in, you’re not going to be able to build muscle mass.”
What to Eat for Big Arm Muscles: 3 Key Factors in Your Diet
Proper nutrition planning is key to facilitating muscle growth. There are three things to keep in mind when you’re looking to build arm muscle: calories in vs. calories out, protein consumption, and time.
If you want to build a building, you need enough raw materials. The same goes for muscles.
Clinical nutritionist Jackie Justice, MS, CNS explains that to build muscle, you need to consume more calories than you expend.
“To build arm muscles you need to eat about 500 more calories than your body needs, and it needs to be made up of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates,” says Justice. “These can all be part of a post-exercise recovery meal in the form of a protein shake or a whole meal eaten within a few hours of a workout.”
Want to build arm muscles?
According to Escobar, there’s one key ingredient that’s most important to eat: “Protein, protein, protein — especially high-quality protein that contains all the essential amino acids essential for building muscle.”
When you eat is just as important as what you eat. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), here are some key findings on nutritional timing for weightlifting and muscle building:
- “Primarily evenly spaced protein feedings (about every 3 hours a day) should be seen as the primary area of emphasis for exercising individuals who are meeting their total daily intake of protein.”
- “Post-exercise ingestion of high-quality protein sources (immediately 2-hour post) stimulates robust increases in muscle protein synthesis.”
- “Ingesting a protein dose of 20 to 40 grams of a high-quality source every 3 to 4 hours most favorably affects the rate of muscle protein synthesis compared to other dietary patterns and is associated with improved body composition and performance outcomes.”