There's no better feeling than a pump in your biceps and triceps. It's true: 9 out of 10 broscientists agree that the pump is an addictive, ultra-necessary part of any arm workout. The pump has also been gym-clinically proven to boost confidence, support muscle growth, and keep you coming back for more gains-inducing punishment.
If your workout hasn't been providing you the pump your arms need, or the size and shape you've been expecting, it's probably time to reassess your biceps and triceps workout and how you perform it.
MuscleTech athlete and bodybuilding competitor Jesse Hobbs wants to help you do it. It doesn't matter if you're just starting out or have been in the gym for a couple of years—follow his eight bits of biceps-building and triceps-training advice, implement his workout, and you'll have the powerful, defined arms you've always wanted.
1. Arm your split
"One of the best ways to put on size is to hit your arms with more volume. I have a chest and triceps day, a back and biceps day, and then three days later, I hit the gym for a biceps and triceps workout," says Hobbs.
A photo posted by Jesse Hobbs TeamMuscleTech (@jessehobbsbodybuilding) on Jul 29, 2014 at 5:12pm PDT
This split works well, because when you hit your biceps and triceps with dedicated work, they'll be prefatigued from your back and chest work earlier in the week. When you get a chance to crush them, you can bring them to the state of full fatigue needed for massive growth.
"Increasing the blood flow to the muscles several times per week has really helped increase the size of my arms," explains Hobbs
Having a workout that focuses exclusively on your arms after a few days of rest will help you feel fresh when you lift. Having lots of energy will allow you to lift maximal weight, which can increase the size and strength of your arms. A workout setup like this can really help you crack the next level of arm growth, so consider training your arms with a dedicated day and on days when you target larger body parts.
2. Recover for growth
Even though more volume can lead to increased growth, don't get caught training your arms every day. Rest and recovery are essential for continued gains. You break down muscle in the gym, but you build it at rest with proper nutrition.
"Getting sufficient rest for your arms is key," adds Hobbs. "You utilize your arms in almost every lift in the gym, so it's important to give them a break between big body parts and dedicated sessions."
3. Supp wisely
Hobbs also credits the supplements he uses for his success in the gym. "I've seen great results from using Anarchy for my pre-workout supplement, Amino Build for my post-workout supplement, and NITRO-TECH for extra protein," he says.
Pre-workouts are designed to help boost your energy, increase your blood flow, and push you to peak performance during each and every workout. Post-workouts give you a shot of the nutrients you need to grow immediately after training, and protein is absolutely essential for tissue growth and repair.
While these supplements will never do all the work for you, they can help boost your energy levels, support blood and nutrient flow to the muscles, and help the muscle recovery process. Having a little assistance from supplements could mean faster results.
4. Controlled chaos
Muscle growth comes from proper form and control, not necessarily super-heavy weight. To build great-looking arms, doing the exercises correctly is much more important than using as much weight as you can. "It's critical to never swing your body into a curl," says Hobbs. "If that happens, it's a sure sign you're using too much weight."
The minute you start swinging the weight during a curl is the minute you take the tension off your biceps. Constant tension on your muscles is what's going to make them grow. If you use other body parts or momentum to move heavy weight, your biceps workout will become less effective and you may also set yourself up for injury.
"Keep your shoulder locked into place as you do a curl," says Hobbs. "This should help you focus on moving only your elbow."
5. Mind your elbows
Building on the point above, your elbows drive every biceps and triceps movement. Your biceps flex the elbow, and the triceps extend it. So, think about your elbow positioning for every biceps and triceps movement you perform. Notice how your elbow positioning can impact how the exercises feel and how much weight you can use.
Poor elbow positioning can cause discomfort and even injury. Mind the cardinal rule of training: If it hurts, don't do it. If it doesn't hurt, look for the best way to do it. In this case, the best elbow positions are those that allow you to feel maximum tension on your working muscles.
"When performing concentration curls, I like to keep my elbows pointed inward," says Hobbs. "Using a preacher bench can help you maintain good form [and] keep your biceps working the entire time."'
6. Maintain constant tension
To get the most out of each exercise, try to keep your muscles under tension throughout the range of motion. For the majority of exercises, your muscle gets to rest at the very bottom and very top of the movement. Shorten the range of motion just a little to maintain constant tension.
"For example," says Hobbs, "the lowest point in a dip should be 45 degrees. At this point, you'll get a nice chest and delt stretch while maintaining constant tension on the triceps. At the top, don't lock out so much that your delts take all the stress off the triceps. Keep a slight bend so your triceps start to feel the burn!"
You can utilize this same concept when performing triceps pull-downs. "At the top, your arms should be at a 45-degree angle with your elbows bent," says Hobbs. "Don't bring your arms up any farther than this, or you'll lose tension."
You may notice that your muscles fatigue more quickly when you keep them under constant tension. When that happens, you may need to use less weight in order to maintain good form and control.
7. Hold the squeeze
Increase your pump, time under tension, and work performed by holding the peak contraction of every rep for a beat before releasing. "At the end of triceps pull-downs, I like to roll the bottom of the ropes outward to get that extra bit of squeeze," explains Hobbs.
Hobbs also recommends "negative holds," in which you have a partner help you move a heavier-than-normal weight, then squeeze your working muscle at the peak contraction. "Negative holds can also be a great way get deep into the muscle tissue," Hobbs says.
A photo posted by Jesse Hobbs TeamMuscleTech (@jessehobbsbodybuilding) on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:28am PST
He also suggests turning your pinky out and squeezing your biceps as you reach the end of a biceps curl. Doing so will help refine your biceps peak so you can get that baseball look.
8. Finish strong
If you're doing a long, tough workout, it's easy to lose focus by the end. To ensure that your mind and your body are working hard throughout your time in the gym, you may want to implement a tough workout finisher.
"I like to end my arms workout with a devastating triset finisher," says Hobbs. "It's great for shoving even more blood into your triceps to help induce the greatest possible growth."
A finisher also gives you something to look forward to when you begin to lose focus. Try Hobbs's favorite arm workout—including his devastating triset—next time you hit the gym!