The gyms with the greatest variety of equipment are always on everyone's "best gyms" list. What separates them from the rest of the pack? It's the availability of different options so lifters like you can challenge your muscles and achieve better gains.
Arms are traditionally thought of as a free-weight body part, but it's time to think beyond the barbell and dumbbell. Certain machine moves offer new stimuli for your arms and can stoke new gains, too.
1. Preacher Curl Machine
The preacher curl machine helps you isolate the biceps in two ways. First, it restricts you to a set path of travel, forcing your biceps to do the work. Second, your upper arms are braced against the pad, so cheating isn't an option. This will help you achieve bigger and stronger biceps.
Pro Tip: Sit at the machine at an angle and use only one arm at a time. This turns the movement into a concentration curl. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps per arm. Rest 45 seconds between sets.
2. Triceps Dip Machine
The traditional bodyweight dip is a compound movement targeting the shoulders, chest, and triceps, but using the dip machine helps isolate the triceps as much as possible.
This is a good exercise for going heavy and focusing on power. You don't need to think about finesse here. Strap into the seat, load up your weight, and go.
Pro Tip: Don't use this one as a finisher. Put it early in the workout so you can go heavy. Do 3 sets of 8 reps with a rest-pause to take each set to failure. Ninety seconds of rest between sets will get you charged up for the next set.
3. Seated Row Machine
Some of you are thinking "Um, that's a back machine, bro." You're right, but the seated row can be very effective for training biceps, too. Use a straight handle with an underhand grip and lie back on the bench you would normally sit on. This converts the seated row into a lying cable curl, which is an amazing movement for isolating the biceps by eliminating momentum.
Pro Tip: Perform 3 sets of 10 reps and do 4-second negatives to increase the time under tension. This means each set will last nearly a minute. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
4. Triceps Extension Machine
The triceps extension machine is for the triceps what the preacher curl machine is for the biceps. The upper arm is braced against a pad and, in most cases, the handles are vertical so you can emphasize the triceps. As with the preacher curl machine, isolate each arm at a time if you like. This machine can be a tremendous finisher, torching the triceps at the end of your arm workout.
Pro Tip: While it is possible to go heavy on this machine, low reps may not serve you as you'd like. Shoot for 3 sets of 12 reps with 60 seconds between sets. You can do this with both arms together or each arm individually.
5. Smith Machine
The Smith machine is an all-in-one machine, but I'm including it here because it probably never occurred to you to use it for arms. For biceps, the Smith is perfect for drag curls, an old-school and largely forgotten biceps builder. For triceps, the Smith works for close-grip bench presses and lying triceps extensions.
All of these Smith machine variations are very effective for building the front and back of the arms. You could even set the stoppers to restrict your range of motion if you want to change it up.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the all-in-one Smith setup and do a superset. Perform 10 reps of the drag curl and immediately get on the bench so you can do the same number of lying extensions. Four supersets here will fill the entire upper arm with blood. Rest 60 seconds between supersets.