If you were to look at anyone with an enviable physique, one of their stand-out features would almost certainly be their arms: be that male or female. Something about owning a thick and defined pair of biceps gives someone a distinct presence when they enter the room. If they were easy for everyone to achieve then they wouldn’t have this affect. So how exactly do you build big arms?
Scrap “Arms Day”
One of the hardest things for a new lifter to understand, is that however impressive the biceps and triceps may look, they are not major muscle groups. These include the likes of the back, glutes, hamstrings, pectorals and quadriceps. To dedicate a whole day to arms does two things.
- It takes the priority away from the major muscle groups that have a greater impact to your overall physique.
- It impacts the training of the pectorals, shoulder or back. As weaker muscles give out first in compound movements, it will reduce the amount of weight that you can lift due to the arms recovering, which in turn impacts the muscle you can build in those areas.
Do heavy compound movements
We at EHF are massive advocators of lifting heavy in order to maximize muscle (and strength) gains for natural lifters. When you complete a workout consisting of heavy bench press or heavy rows, your arms are working hard to help you complete your lifts. Rows may target your back, but you couldn’t lift the weight without the help of your biceps and the same for the bench press and your triceps: they’re synergistic. Basically your arms are getting a tough workout without you even focusing on them.
Finish off a workout with isolation exercises
Just after completing a serious chest or shoulder session is a perfect time time to hit your triceps with isolation exercises. They are already tired from moving the heavy weight around, so targeting them in isolation will speed up their muscle development. The same goes for your biceps. You ideally want to hit one or two exercises for around 10-12 reps, for a total of 4-6 sets. This rep/set scheme is fantastic for hypertrophy and the weight will be light enough that you can still lift it.
An example workout for the bench press and triceps would be as follows:
- Bench Press – 3×3
- Incline Press – 4×6
- Floor Press – 4×8
- Cable Flies – 4×10
- Overhead Tricep Extension – 4×10
We look forward to seeing streets filled with some sizable arms when summer (finally) comes around!
Sun’s out. Guns out.