How to Get Bigger Arms That Pop from Sleeves
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
We have all seen those chest-bicep clowns in the gym. You know them, the guys who show up only when it’s chest or biceps day (aka, everyday except weekend for them) and do hours of pump-work and drop-sets on biceps.
Yet year after year, they look the same. Why?
The answer is simple, they never learned how to get bigger arms properly. Arm muscles, like the rest of your body, grow best when subjected to heavy resistance and progressive overload. Sure trainees with some “chemical assistance” can only stimulate the muscle tissue and get away with it, but a natural trainee MUST get progressively stronger to get progressively bigger. This applies to your arm muscles as well as to the rest of the body.
Here’s a scientifically-proven and time tested method of adding rapid size and strength to your arms as a natural lifter.
Know the Muscles You Work With
The main muscle fiber groups of the arms are in the areas of triceps, biceps, and forearms.
The main muscle fiber bundles you’re going to focus on when building big arms are;
- Biceps brachii (both long head and short head)
- Triceps brachii (all the three heads, long, lateral, and medial)
- Forearms (multiple bundles of the abductor, extensor, and stabilizing muscles)
Most people think that bigger biceps = bigger arms… but in reality bigger triceps = bigger arms. Triceps have a greater visual impact than the biceps since they compose 2/3 of your arm. And forearms, they’re like the calves of the arms, often neglected to the max.
The question now is, how do you build bigger biceps and bigger triceps that are strong and dense?
How to Get Bigger Arms: Optimal Training Frequency and Set/Rep Patterns
Walk into any gym and you can see guys doing some crazy high-rep muscle confusion workouts with their arms.
I’m a betting man and I can guarantee you that there are very high odds for the fact that they read about those workouts in some muscle magazine or copied the workout of a chemically aided pro-bodybuilder.
The thing is that when you subject your arm muscles to grueling high-rep drop-sets and all sorts of fancy movements until you can’t even lift a pen, you may still be spinning your wheels with nearly the same amount of muscle mass years later…
…And that is simply because muscle grows when it gets progressively stronger, not when you “feel the burn”.
Knowing how to get big arms comes down to this: focus on working the majority of your arm movements with good form and a full range of motion (ROM) with a rep range of 4-8 and try progressing weekly to slightly heavier weight. This is not rocket science! When you subject your muscles to constantly heavier loads of weight, there’s absolutely no way they would not grow in the process.
We built the THOR Testosterone Training Program on concepts like these, along with many other testosterone boosting training techniques.
Aside from choosing 1-2 main movements for biceps and triceps, you should also pick up 1-2 assistance movements for tri’s, bi’s, and forearms. You can use slightly higher rep range for assistance work, just remember that anything above 12-reps is just major CNS overkill and actually counterproductive for strength and mass. And please don’t lift till failure, this sends the wrong signal to your nervous system and is guaranteed to stall progress.
How to get bigger arms workout routine:
- Main exercise for biceps 6×3
- Main exercise for triceps 8×3
- Assistance exercise for biceps 12×3
- Assistance exercise for triceps 12×3
- Assistance exercise for the bottom of forearms 12×2
- Assistance exercise for the top of forearms 12×2
You want to use weights that make you almost fail on the last rep of each set, but just so that you don’t fail. Get it? When you do that in all your arm workouts 2-3 times a week and constantly progress to heavier weights, magic will happen.
The Best Bicep, Tricep, and Forearm Exercises
If we put out top-hats on and take a look at the research using EMG devices to determine maximal muscle activation, and combine that knowledge the teachings of world’s top trainers, we should have ourselves a relatively solid plan for building those shredded guns.
As it is with almost all of the muscle groups, the opinions of elite trainers often align one-to-one with the findings of scientific research. This is probably not a coincidence since elite trainers usually read the scientific literature as it’s kind of their job to be on top of the research, and their clients get the results (otherwise they would not be classified top trainers, duh).
- The most effective main movements for biceps and triceps;
- Barbell bicep curl (full ROM, shoulder-width grip)
- Weighted bar or bench dips (for overall tricep growth)
- Most effective assistance lifts for bis and tris;
- The only two exercises you need for forearms (strapless chins and deadlifts do the rest);
You might be used to a more broader exercise selection than that, but the raw truth is that those six with varying grips and hand placements are all you’ll ever need for growing some massive guns naturally, they simply hit all the necessary muscle fiber bundles for optimal arm growth.
like always, let’s wrap this up with an example arm blasting workout routine (reps/sets, 60-90 seconds rest between sets);
- Barbell bicep curl 6×3
- Weighted bar dips 8×3
- Dumbbell concentration curls 12×3
- Tricep pushdowns 12×3
- Finger curls 15×2
- Forearm extensions 15×2
Conclusion on How to get Bigger Arms
As you can see, learning how to get big arms is not as hard as you think. Your biceps, triceps, and forearms grow when subjected to progressively heavier and heavier weight week after week, using exercises that maximize the muscle activation in target fiber bundles. Anything else is just hi-fi hype and very likely results in no extra gains whatsoever.
You can forget drop-sets, muscle confusion workouts, “pump-training”, and all that nonsense. If you’re natural trainee you simply need to pick up heavy objects and workout with them until you can pick up even heavier objects.
And if you’re looking for a complete program for adding muscle, dropping fat, and most importantly, increasing testosterone, then check out the THOR Testosterone Training Program.