Adding Size To Your Bi's And Tri's.

I've spent years adding size to my arms and would now like to share some of what I have learned with you, the bodybuilding consumer. Here is an arm routine that will work you hard.

Etched in my memory forever is a photo of Richard Baldwin standing next to Jorma Raty at the 1980 Mr. Universe. It was a semi-relaxed pose where Richard's tricep was just bulging on the back of his arm. I was blown away. From that moment on when I think of huge triceps, that photo of Baldwin pops into my mind.

When it comes to biceps, the photo of Arnold on The Education Of A Bodybuilder comes to my mind. There has never been a more impressive photo of single-arm bicep shot. That photo rocks and it still inspires me to this day.

I've spent years trying to add size to my arms. They've grown from 9 1/2 inches to 18. It's taken years for me to do it, but I've learned a few tricks along the way. If you're looking to add some beef to your arms to fill out those baggy sleeves, this article's for you.

Arm Anatomy

Before we go into details of the actual exercise routine, let's take a quick refresher course in basic arm anatomy.

The Bicep

    The bicep, which most everyone knows, is the round, two-headed muscle located on the front of the upper arm. Its primary function is to allow the forearm to move to the shoulder.

    Its secondary function is to allow the forearm to turn and rotate, which is called supination and pronation. Pulling movements are performed with the help of the bicep muscle.

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    Biceps Anatomy.

The Tricep

    The back of the upper arm is comprised of a three-headed muscle called the tricep. The tricep's function is to allow the forearm to move from a bent position to a straight position. This is called extension. Pushing movements are performed with the help of the tricep muscle.

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    Triceps Anatomy.

Building Size & Strength

The following routine is designed to build size and strength. It's nothing fancy and the exercises are very basic. To put on size you need to keep it simple and train heavy, but never at the sacrifice of good form.

Do this routine once per week and train your biceps before your triceps. Training your biceps first allows the elbows to warm-up well for heavy tricep work.

Click To Enlarge.
Keep It Simple & Train Heavy.

It's been argued that if your biceps are pumped up before training triceps, you won't be able to fully extend your arms and straighten them to full contraction. I wouldn't worry about that. Your triceps will pump up just fine and your elbow joints will be much more comfortable over the long haul.

Warm Up

    Since you'll be training heavy, it's extremely important to warm-up well. Traditionally, warm-up sets have you repping out 15 to 20 reps to get the blood flowing. The problem with these types of warm-up sets is that you're already tired by the time you get to your heavier sets.

    The warm-up I'm about to introduce, might be something new for you to try.

    • For the first set do 12 reps with a weight that you could probably do 20 with, but stop at 12.

    • For the second warm-up set, add 20 pounds or so and do eight reps. You should be able to do about 15 reps with this weight, but you stop at eight.


  • The next set is called an acclimation set. You add more weight and do only three reps. You could probably get eight, but you stop at three. An acclimation set "acclimates" you to using heavier weights - without fatiguing the muscle.

Heavy Sets

  • Now you're ready to add more weight for three heavy sets at the same poundage. Each set is for six reps. The sixth rep should be the last one you can do on your own. The seventh rep would not be possible. Rest about 90 seconds to two minutes in between sets.

    On the second exercise it's not necessary to do the 12- and 8-rep warm-up sets. Your muscles are already warm and probably pumped up by now too. Use a weight that's a little lighter than your heaviest sets and do one set of six reps, just to get adjusted to the next exercise.

The Routine


    • Barbell Curls
      12 reps (for warm-up)
      8 reps (for warm-up)
      3 reps (acclimation set)
      3 sets of six reps (heaviest sets)

      Click To Enlarge.
      Barbell Curls.

    • Alternate Dumbbell Curls
      6 reps (acclimation set)
      2 sets of six reps (heaviest sets)

      Click To Enlarge.
      Alternate Dumbbell Curls.


    • Lying Triceps Extensions
      12 reps (for warm-up)
      8 reps (for warm-up)
      3 reps (acclimation set)
      3 sets of six reps (heaviest sets)

    Click To Enlarge.
    Lying Triceps Extensions.

Recovery & Nutrition

Give this routine a try for eight weeks and then take one week off from training to give your entire body a rest and allow for more recuperation. Resume the routine for another eight weeks, rest for a week, etc.

Remember to eat healthy by eating at least five or six smaller meals per day instead of the traditional three. Eat high-quality protein like lean meats and egg whites.

Consume lots of vegetables and fruits along with healthy whole grains. Starchy carbs like rice and oatmeal are great for filling up on and they give you lots of energy to train hard.

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Find out how many grams of protein, carbs and fat are in the foods you eat, along with the full vitamin and mineral profile.
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Eat some nuts and peanut butter for your fats. Make sure to take in some whey protein and dextrose before and after your workouts. Add some creatine to your post-workout drink to help the rebuilding process even more. Avoid junk food and take a multivitamin/mineral supplement.


Adding size to your arms is not rocket science. It's mostly hard work and consistency. Train your arms heavy and consistently and they'll grow and get stronger.

It might seem like a slow process, but by this time next year, your arms could be one inch larger than they are now. At that rate of growth, you only need to add 1/52 of an inch every week. That adds up to 1/2 of an inch in six months and 1/4 of an inch in only three months.

So why are you still sitting around reading this article when you could be training your arms and putting on some size? Get to the gym and then go eat!