Big arms seem to be a status symbol among men in the gym. Many guys try to achieve the coveted 22” arms that Arnold had back in the day however, many that try never seem to get there.
Why is this? Let’s look at 5 different ways you can change your arm program to gain those coveted inches.
When training to gain arm size the go to exercise seems to be bicep curls. This is the first mistake. While direct bicep training is important, remember the bicep only makes up 2/5thof the total arm size.
Instead of purely focusing on bicep training, shift over to triceps centered exercises such as dips, skull crushers, and pushdowns.
The triceps consist of 3 muscles the medial, lateral and the long head hitting all three heads are important for overall muscle balance but symmetry as well. Shift the exercise selection ration to 2:1 triceps per biceps exercise.
This Brachialis, although a relatively small part of the arm can really make a big difference to overall arm size and appearance. This small muscle is between the biceps and triceps on the lateral side of the forearm that crosses the elbow joint.
Tip: By increasing the size of the brachialis, you can actually “push up” the biceps and make your arm appear bigger.
How to train the Brachialis: You can hit this tiny muscle with reverse ez-bar curls and cross-body hammer curls.
Dropsets were very popular back in the day of classic bodybuilding but seem to have fallen off as time went on in hypertrophy programs.
Dropsets are a form of time under tension “TUT”. The goal of TUT was to keep the muscle under so much stress for an extended period to force the muscle to adapt faster to the demand of lifting duration and make it grow. It is no secret that this technique is probably one of the best for any muscle group to add on size fast.
How to incorporate dropsets:
Say you do dumbbell curls with 30 pounds for sets of 10 reps. On the last set after you do your 10 reps of 30 pounds instead of resting you will immediately drop the weight about 5-10 pounds and continue to do another 10 reps or go to failure. You can even take this further by adding in a second or third dropset after that to get even more TUT.
This may be new to a few people. BFR has been getting a lot more popular not only for lifters but also in physical therapy.
What is BFR? BFR training is the act of restricting the blood to a certain body part usually the extremities. You do this by using a tourniquet or blood pressure cuff. This restricts the amount of blood that can come out of the extremity causing a ton of lactic acid to build up in the muscle.
One thing that is interesting about lactic acid is that it is anabolic meaning it builds! By increasing the lactic acid in the arms, you can really add on some size and a huge pump.
BFT training for the arm is done by putting on a tourniquet about a 7 out of 10 tightness (if your arm goes numb it’s too tight) just above the bicep origin site (top of the bicep). Start with a weight that is roughly 20-30% of your 1 rep max for that exercise and complete 30 reps, rest 30 seconds with the tourniquet on and do another 20 then repeat 2 more times for the completed set.
Another positive about BFR is it really saves your joints by utilizing lower weights but not sacrificing any of the muscle gains.
Compound sets are usually referred to as superset. This is done by doing one exercise then immediately doing an exercise that is opposite or an antagonist muscle.
For the arms you would do this by performing a biceps exercise such as a curl then instead of resting doing a triceps exercise such as a skull crusher. Compound sets are great as when you hit one of the agonist muscle the antagonist muscle must rest in order for the agonist to contract. This forced rest allows you to continue using heavier weights for the following set meaning you can lift heavier weights for a longer period of time versus superseding two bicep exercises. This will allow you to increase your total training volume which is one of the ultimate ways for building muscle.
It is always a good idea to research any new technique before trying it out, make sure you feel confident in your ability to complete the technique in a safe manor. Try adding in one technique such as compound sets and then moving up to the more advanced techniques such as dropsets and BFR.
An important factor that needs to be considered when looking to speed up your metabolism is of course meal portions.
Speed lifts (e.g., box squats, speed deads & speed bench) are essential to increasing strength, acceleration and power.