Top five best exercises to get bigger arms

Max Bridger from LDN Muscle talks us through the top five exercises for guys looking to build bigger arms in the gym

bigger arms gym excercises
Triceps make up more of the arm than biceps Photo: LDN Muscle

Before we detail our top five exercises for bigger arms here are our top five few points to remember and utilise.

· Triceps make up more of the arm than biceps, around two-thirds in fact, so do not neglect them in the pursuit for bigger arms!

· Aim for around 40-60 total working reps on both biceps and triceps 2-3 times per week. Lower total volume in sessions, and higher frequency, is key for muscle growth- not 90 minutes on biceps once per week.

· Work the full (comfortable) range of motion allowed at the elbow joint. Half reppers get half the results!

· Control the weight at a slower tempo, with the wrists neutral and engaged throughout. This is safer, allows the target muscles more time under tension and better results overall.

· Mobilise your shoulders. Hunched posture and the resultant tight traps, shoulders, chest and abdominals can prevent proper technique, range of motion and reduce the potential weight you can lift. Shoulder protraction is also a contributing factor to many shoulder injuries that are all too common in the gym!

EZ Bar Skull Crushers

This is a fantastic exercise when done correctly. The stretch and contraction in the two biggest sections of the tricep muscle (group) make it an ideal exercise for growth. Grip the bar around 6-8 inches apart, and make sure you hinge from the elbow rather than turn the movement into a press- commonly and kindly demonstrated by the grunting, overgrown monsters in your local gym!

Incline Bench Dumbbell Twist Curls

Set a bench to a 30-45 degree incline and lay on it face up with a dumbbell in each hand. Relax the shoulders and chest and keep your head back, before contracting the biceps to flex and extend the elbow joint whilst keeping the elbow/upper arm still. This is a fantastic exercise to prevent swinging and force the biceps to move the weight in isolation – so don’t worry when you’re forced to drop the weight below your normal dumbbell curl weight.

Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

A massively neglected exercise due to the high rep, low weight (toning) culture in the past abusing it to absolutely no success – however, tricep kickbacks provide fantastic muscle activation throughout the triceps. Ensure your body is parallel to the ground, back flat and elbow high throughout this movement.

Barbell Curls (or Preacher Curl)

You can use the most weight (arguably) on this exercise with good form for biceps. If there’s a preacher curl or ‘arm-blaster’ piece of equipment then experimenting with these is also fantastic, given you have to really work hard to cheat reps on them! Work the full range of motion and grip the bar at hip/shoulder width – any narrower and this tends to negatively affect posture, weight used and technique in most individuals.

Tricep Pull Downs

We suggest using the ‘V-bar’ style attachment here, as the rope tends to lead to cheating and instability through the repetitions. Keep the wrists straight, preventing extension at the top and flexion at the base of each rep, and set the feet wide apart whilst maintaining good posture – then add some heavy-as* weight and work the full range of the elbow joint!

There are many other great tricep exercises we would recommend using too, but if your flexibility and conditioning are poor we feel their implementation may have a higher risk than reward factor; weighted dips, rope pull downs, close grip bench, bench dips and for bicep curls, the omnipresent hip thrust and swing technique.

Max Bridger is the co-owner of LDNMuscle. For more training and nutrition advice, download one of the LDN Muscle online workout guides by visiting www.ldnmuscle.com

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This article was last updated on November 11, 2018.
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