To build stronger biceps and triceps, it helps to build your knowledge about your arm muscles and how they work.
Your upper arm is divided into three main muscle groups.
- Firstly, we have the biceps, which runs along the front of the arm, from your elbow to your shoulder joint. The main function of the biceps is to bend the elbow.
- Secondly, we have the triceps which run from the elbow to the shoulder. Their main role is to straighten the elbow. The triceps are a larger muscle group than the biceps, which means they have more potential to grow.
- The third group is the brachialis, an upper arm muscle that runs under the biceps. It’s really only visible when looking at the arms from the side, but will make your arms appear much larger from a side view. Building this muscle will create a fuller and bigger bicep.
Most people focus on biceps training, where most of the workout is centred on supine (underhand – palms forward) grip exercises which will mainly work the bicep muscles, and less on the triceps and brachialis.
If you want big arms or even sculpted and well-designed arms then you need to work your triceps and brachialis just as hard. To get great arms you need to work the triceps, biceps and the brachialis. Let’s look the most important principles you need to follow in order to build bigger, stronger arms.
Twice a Week
Train your arms a maximum of twice per week. The muscles in your arms are more prone to overtraining than other muscles of the body, mainly because they’re worked hard during pulling and pushing movements, such as the bench press and lat pull down.
So many people think that training their arms 3-4 times a week is the best way to get them to grow. Do this, and you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment. Stick to 1-2 arm workouts per week. This gives your arms the recovery time they need to grow bigger and stronger. If you work them properly and hard enough you won’t need to work them more than twice a week.
To get your arms to grow, you need to overload them by periodically training them to failure and beyond. Don’t just go through the motions. Prepare yourself for some high intensity sets and really squeeze out every last rep.
If you’re primary goal is to add muscle mass to your arms, your entire arm routine should take you no more than 30 minutes. Building muscle is not like running a marathon. Many people do too much arm work in search of big arms. Short and intense is the best training way to add mass quickly. When training your arms, more is not always better.
Lift and lower the weight slowly in a controlled, focused manner. If the weights you’re using are too heavy, you’re only training your ego. This will never build big arms. To develop your arms fully, start every repetition with your arms fully extended. This makes the exercise harder, and targets all the fibres in the muscle.
If you’re using too much weight (like most people do) you’ll end up doing partial repetitions, and swinging your body all over the place but most importantly you’ll put yourself in real danger of getting injured. Reduce your weights and do the exercise properly. I stick to 1 general rule when it comes to weight training: perfect your form, then look at increasing the weight you’re lifting.
Well defined arms don’t come from curls or presses alone. Exercise only provides the stimulus for growth. To provide your muscles with the fuel they need to get bigger and stronger, you need to make sure you eat enough calories every day. If your arms are growing, and your weight is moving up on the scales, you know you’re on the right track.
Something else you can do to ensure rapid muscle growth in your arms (and your entire body) is to consume protein and/or carbohydrate immediately prior to, and straight after exercise. I personally stick to a basic whey protein concentrate (TPW Caramel Macchiato concentrate 80 is my favourite) for most of the day and before a workout, for after a workout I tend to use TPW's All in One Protein powder as it contains protein isolate which is absorbed quickly which is crucial for post workout. Nutrients consumed at certain times, most notably before and after your workout, can better contribute to muscle repair and recovery compared to the same nutrients consumed during other times of the day.
Feed your body with the right nutrients after exercise, and your muscles will be able to repair and recover quicker, which means bigger, stronger arms for you.