The arms, quite possibly the most favored area of a bodybuilders physique. I'll even go so much as to say that I'll bet that when every individual bodybuilder first began to actually lift weights, we all wanted huge, powerful arms.
The ability to curl your sleeve up and display rock hard, peaked and striated biceps, triceps that overflow with mass and big snake like bands of muscle lining our forearms is one of the greatest sensations of the bodybuilding lifestyle. Definitely the most noticeable of muscle groups, it's no wonder why bodybuilders all around the world are striving towards jacked guns.
Arm Anatomy and Kinesiology
The upper arms consist of 2 muscle groups, the biceps and the triceps, where the lower arm consists of forearm flexors and extensors. The biceps, consisting of an inner and outer head on the top side of your upper arm structure is used to curl the arm and rotate the wrist.
Contrary to very popular belief, the biceps consist of only about 1/3 of your upper arm. The triceps consists of three distinct outer, middle and inner heads.
The main function of the triceps is to extend the arm. The forearm flexors and extensors are a no brainer, the flexors curl the wrist, while the extensors extend it.
- Standing Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Close-Grip Bench Presses: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Dips: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
As for the forearms, I find that mine grow fine and proportionate without any direct stimulation, but the forearm motions are somewhat simple, barbell or dumbbell wrist curls or extensions will isolate them completely.
Methods Of Training The Arms
Mainly, there are 2 ways to hit the arms. Some people separate the muscle groups, usually with triceps with chest and biceps with back. This makes sense because the biceps and triceps have completely opposite function, the triceps to "push", and the biceps to "pull".
Some people find that training the arms on it's own day is more beneficial, often super setting the two, that is performing one exercise for the triceps and moving on to a biceps exercise, or vice versa with little or no rest. This creates and amazing pump and "cushioning effect".
Each methods have their place as long as nutrition and recovery are adequate and not a real issue. I personally prefer to categorize the arms into a push/pull split.
Effective Arm Training
In order to effectively recruit muscle fiber from the biceps and triceps, one must make sure to completely isolate them when using the above exercises. In any variation of barbell or dumbbell curls or extensions, make sure you use strict and proper form. With the biceps, in the starting position of an exercise keep your hands shoulder width, hanging at your sides.
Begin to curl the weight upward towards your chest in an arc at a medium pace, and slowly extend in the opposite fashion. Make sure to avoid a swinging motion, keep your back straight and upper arms motionless, only moving the forearms through the given range of motion.
Come to a complete stop before beginning each half of a rep. Maintain an effective range of motion by keeping your reps just out of full contraction and extension.
This keep the tension on the biceps, don't lock out on the top or bottom of the movement. Same goes for the triceps, with extensions make sure you perform each rep as strict as possible.
In the starting position of an extension, keep your hands generally 4-8 inches away. Begin to extend the weight upward in a smooth fashion, following the same guidelines. Keep your upper arms motionless.
Utilize the same concept of full effective range of motion, just as with the biceps. With close grip bench presses and dips, make sure you press in a straight line and again, don't fully lock out or extend.
The arms most definitely require the least amount of focus out of all other muscle groups. Arm movements feel the most natural to many bodybuilders, and it is very easy for them to concentrate on the muscle groups working. This is evident when looking at most young, aspiring bodybuilders and being amazed at their arm development. It is usually the case that a teen bodybuilder's favorite muscle group to see grow is his/her arms.