“How do I get better arms?”
We get this question all the time. Sometimes it’s from people who are looking to build muscle in their biceps and triceps. Often times people are looking to achieve better tone. We’ll answer the question for both crowds.
Here are five (5) things you can do to get the arms you want…
1. Eat Properly
Surprised this one is first?
Don’t be! Nutrition is the foundation of everything when it comes to fitness. If you want to build larger muscles, you’ll need protein. And if you’re looking to increase tone and definition, you’ll need to reduce your body fat.
To drop body fat, you must have your nutrition dialed in — you can’t eat excessive amounts of food and some foods will help you accomplish your goals faster than others.
We have nutrition experts who can tell you exactly how to eat for your goals. But here’s the short, general, version:
- Prioritize protein
- Look to whole foods like fruits and veggies before processed foods
- Saturated fat is not your enemy
- Avoid added sugars
2. Lift Heavy Stuff!
To build arm muscle, you need to lift enough weight to cause the muscle to adapt and grow. This means the last reps in any set should be challenging. If you do a set of 8 bicep curls and the last rep felt very easy, you’re probably not lifting heavy enough.
You likely need to “feel the burn” and challenge yourself! This safe stress will trigger your body to grow muscle to adapt to the work you’re asking it to perform. Muscle growth, in this sense, is called “hypertrophy.” And as there are different types of muscle, this is specifically called “skeletal muscle hypertrophy.”
In the past, people often saw bulging bodybuilders and worried that lifting heavy would turn them into behemoths covered in veins. This just doesn’t happen. You do not need to worry that lifting heavy weights will make you “bulky” because it won’t. In fact, lifting heavy is exactly what you need to build muscle and achieve great arms.
“How heavy should I go?” This depends on the movement, the sets, and the reps you’re doing. A coach can give you an exact plan — and we’ll talk about that below.
3. Do Arm Movements
This seems obvious but we’ll point out something most people miss: you shouldn’t just focus on the biceps if you want great arms. Sure, biceps are the prominent muscles of your arm but you can’t forget about your forearms and your triceps (the back of your arms). Depending on who you ask, deltoids could be considered something to make your arms more aesthetically pleasing.
Hundreds of movements can be used to train these specific muscles. You can use barbells, dumbbells, bands, cable crossover stations, bodyweight movements, and household objects if you don’t have access to them. A lot of times people will use “single joint” movements [aka “isolated” movements] to train their arms. Think bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral delt raises, and so on.
While isolated movements are acceptable, we also recommend you use “compound” movements as well.
4. Do Compound Movements
Compound movements work many muscle groups at once and involve more than one joint at a time. Think about a pull-up, for example. The pull-up requires your elbows and shoulders to move. It also trains a whole host of muscles at once.
Isolation movements are great but don’t get it confused — you are training your triceps in a bench press and your shoulders in a military press.
You will get a huge bang for your buck with compound movements, and we use them regularly in the gym. As an added benefit, compound movements usually involve the muscles of the core and sometimes even the legs. This means you can improve your whole body even if your’e mainly focused on your arms.
A few great compound movements for arms: pull-ups, chin-ups, bench presses, military presses, bent over rows.
5. Change Your Routine
If you always do the same thing, your body will adapt for a while and then stop adapting. The dreaded plateau.
But if you change your routine at appropriate times, your body will keep adapting to the new stresses and you’ll get the results you’re looking for. This might mean doing 3 sets of 8 reps of barbell bicep curls for a few weeks, then 2 sets of 12 reps of a dumbbell hammer curl for a few weeks after that.
You can adjust your weights, your reps, your sets, the movements themselves, your rest time, and even the number of times you train per week. But it’s not random. You should make the right changes at the right times. Generally, you should change up your routine every 4 weeks, or so, to ensure you don’t hit a plateau.
Get To Work
There you have it! Keep these 5 tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to better arms.
Want a sample arm workout?
- 2-3 Sets of 8 each arm dumbbell bicep curls (rest 45sec after each set)
- 2-3 sets of 8 dumbbell lying tricep extensions (rest 45sec after each set)
- 2-3 sets of 8 dumbbell hammer curls to overhead press (rest 60sec after each set)
- 2-3 sets of 8 dumbbell bent over tricep kickbacks (rest 60sec after each set)
If you’d like a more specific plan to help you accomplish your goals faster, we can help!
Click HERE to book your free consultation with one of our expert coaches today!