Arm day should be a bodybuilder's happiest day of the week. So, is it yours? If not, maybe your workout is to blame. You should be excited to head to the gym, confident that you're making progress, and looking forward to a serious pump. I've got you covered with the best biceps and triceps workouts from my little black book.
Know Your Arms to Grow Your Arms
When someone asks you to show your muscles, you flex your biceps. But your triceps actually make up 2/3 of your arm mass! Many beginners fall into that trap—even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted he trained his biceps harder and more often than his triceps in the beginning. This built an imbalance that took him years to balance back out.
Here's the best way to build bigger arms: hit biceps and triceps equally hard, using all kinds of rep ranges from high (15-20) to moderate (8-12) to low (4-6). For the first eight weeks of this program, you'll train triceps before biceps! Here's what you need to know about each group:
Biceps Muscles: The major function of your biceps muscles is to bend or "flex" your elbow. When you want to build them, your approach should include variations on the best biceps exercises from multiple angles:
- Arms behind your body: incline curls
- Arms next to your body: standing and seated curls
- Arms in front of your body: preacher curls
Because your biceps also function as forearm rotators, you should include multiple grip styles:
- Palms up: traditional curls
- Palms in: hammer curls
- Palms down: reverse curls
No, you don't need to do all those styles and grips in every workout! Just cycle through the workouts below over a course of months and you'll be covered.
Triceps Muscles: Your triceps are the counterpoint to your biceps and extend or straighten the elbow. The best triceps exercises also cover a range of angles to hit all three "heads" of this muscle group.
- In front of your body: close-grip bench press or push-downs
- In front of your face: skullcrushers
- Over your head: overhead cable extensions
Forearm Muscles: Your forearms are responsible for your grip strength, as well as your wrist stability and strength. If you've been ignoring forearm workouts so far in your training, get ready to be seriously challenged! You'll perform seriously high-rep sets—like 50 reps per set!
How to Use These Workouts
Perform one dedicated arm workout per week, preferably on a Friday or Saturday. Your arms get hit adequately in chest, shoulder, and back workouts earlier in the week, so doing two rounds isn't necessary!
Perform Workout 1 once a week for 4-6 weeks, then move to Workout 2. Keep going until you get through Workout 5. Once you're through Workout 5, you can start over with Workout 1 confident that you're bigger and stronger than you were before.
While you're on this program, use Bodybuilding.com's macronutrient calculator to make sure you're eating enough calories, protein, carbs, and fats to support your goal of muscle gains. To grow your arms, you must be in a caloric surplus, meaning that you are eating more calories than you burn.
Along with protein, a couple of key supplements to consider with these workouts are:
- Creatine monohydrate: to help build muscle and strength
- Pre-workout: to fight fatigue and help give wicked arm pumps!
Have any doubt about how to perform a movement below? Click on the exercise name in the workout table or search in the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database.
A better arm day deserves a better protein shake. Do the work and enjoy your reward!