Depending on what websites and forums you frequent, you’ll get some contrasting opinions on training your arms.
Of course body builders train them hard. They’ll have a dedicated arm day to really pump them up.
Most other athletes, strength and otherwise, treat them as accessories.
You’re not likely to see a linebacker in the gym spending a whole day on biceps. If he’s got the goods, it’s because he trains his compound lifts hard. He’s not concerned with sculpting his arms.
However, most casual lifters fall somewhere in the middle.
Yes, we’re more concerned about function than perfected arms, but filling out your shirt sleeves is cool.
So what’s the best way to go to train for massive arms? We’ve put together a few tips for you to take your workout up a notch.
1. Start With Your Compounds
If you’re not doing a dedicated arm day, of course you’re going to start with your big lifts.
Your bench press and shoulder press will hit your triceps, and your rows will hit your biceps. But take it a step farther.
When you get to the arm portion of your workout, start off with some close grip bench presses and underhand lat pull-downs (underhand rows work too.)
Just like you wouldn’t build your leg day around leg extensions, you shouldn’t build your arm workouts around curls and skull crushers. Start big and work your way down.
2. Go Heavy, or Go Home
People love to do low rep/high volume on arms because it gets them a better pump. Unfortunately, that pump is temporary.
It’s good to throw in some high volume work, but for most people, that’s ALL they do for their arms.
Your big compound moves will take care of some of that, but make sure you’re doing some curls that make you want to drop the bar at around 8 reps.
Low reps build strength, high reps build size. Build up strength with low reps so you don’t plateau out on your high rep work.
3. Work In An Arm Day
If you have naturally small arms, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do an arm day. Getting that extra session is crucial, and it really lets you narrow in on the different muscle heads.
If you’re not doing a bodybuilder style “one day, one body part” program, working in an arm day is tough.
If you’re on a 3 day a week workout, adding a fourth day is tough, and chances are, you don’t need it. You should be hitting arms 3 times a week as it is. If you’re on a 4 day program, follow a schedule like this.
Day 1 – Upper Body (Chest, Lats, Shoulders, Arms)
Day 2 – Lower Body
Day 3 – Arms
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 – Upper Body
Day 6 – Lower Body
Day 7 – Rest
4. Attack from All Angles
Make sure you’re not just working one angle. I see so many people go from barbell curls to normal dumbbell curls and call it a day. For both triceps and biceps, you have multiple heads (3 and 2 respectively).
You can hit these by changing the angles (Preacher curls) or changing the grip (underhand tricep extension). You need to attack from all angles, so throw in several different modifications, and alternate what you focus on.
Training your arms is mostly about vanity. We shouldn’t kid ourselves. But hey, looking good isn’t a crime. Train for confidence. Train to feel good about yourself. That’s all that really matters.