Let’s face it, sometimes there’s that certain body part or two that we can seemingly never get to grow. While the rest of our body parts grow at a rate, at least, to avoid giving us frustration, there’s that one (or more) that won’t budge. For many, that body part is arms. Whether it is a biceps issue, a triceps issue, or an unfortunate complete lack of overall arm growth; there’s certain things you need to remember and put into effect that can help those arms grow bigger, even if that growth is accomplished over a longer period of time.
First, to get bigger arms, you have to understand how much each of the two muscles are involved in making up the arm. Without going into detail on all the different heads of each, the triceps make up 2/3rds of your arm size. In turn, the biceps take up only 1/3rd. So for many, not knowing this fundamental difference already sets them back in their arm growth. Undoubtedly, to the average Joe, the bicep muscle is the “gun” everybody refers to. Even when people refer to their arm size, sometimes they say their biceps are (blank) inches, when they’re actually referring to their entire arm.
This infatuation with the bicep muscle unfortunately induces people to work hard towards training their biceps, with the triceps coming second in priority. This is a vital mistake. The tricep is composed of three tricep heads out of a total of 5 on your arm (the other two being bicep heads). Therefore, every time you’re placing less emphasis on your tricep while curling your heart away to get softballs on your biceps you are the cause of limiting your own arm growth. The fix is simple, keep training your biceps hard, but at the very least, do the same for your triceps. I’d venture to say that you’d be better off prioritizing your triceps and doing an extra exercise for them over your biceps. (Again, this is for those lacking in total arm growth – those whose tricep grows easily would not have to prioritize it in their arm training).
Getting bigger arms of course, goes way past what we’ve just gone over. That’s just the bare minimum you need to keep in mind if you’re struggling with arm growth. When it comes to actual training, keep the following in mind:
1) Prioritize – If you’re trying to get bigger arms, it is pretty clear that you’re not one of those people who can grow their arms by looking at a set of dumbbells. Therefore, you can’t attempt to continue focusing on training your arms the same amount that you do your other body parts. I might get a few people shaking their heads at this (for the fact I’m referring to arm training), but if a body part is stagnating in growth you have to prioritize it. Many people will claim that with the added work your arms do for all your other body parts, excluding legs, it is pointless to work them more than one time a week directly. I find that claim ridiculous, and I’m often not surprised to see only those who don’t have a problem growing their arms advocating such a position. They don’t know what it’s like, plain and simple. To add, I bet they prioritize another body part they’re not satisfied with. Arms are no different.
2) The Big Exercises – there are certain exercises for both the triceps and biceps that are highly recommended over others due to their ability to achieve muscle fatigue much more efficiently than the rest. Sure, tricep pressdowns might work as the main or only exercise for some people but I’m assuming that by reading this article you’re not one of them. Focus on close grip bench press, dips, and skullcrushers/overhead extensions. For biceps, chin ups/barbell curls can do the trick.
3) Mind Muscle Connection – grabbing a barbell and throwing it up with your back isn’t going to help you grow bigger arms. Do it right, focus your mind on moving the weight with the muscle you intend the exercise for. For curls, stand against the wall with your elbows at your sides, don’t let your ego win and lower the weight. Remember, it’s about how hard you hit the muscle, not how much weight you use (especially if that weight is being lifted with the help of supporting muscle groups).
4) Constant Tension – by straightening your arms on skull crushers you’re letting your tricep relax. Instead, stop 5-10% short of straightening and go back down to do another rep. This keeps constant tension on the muscle and helps it reach muscle fatigue faster because you’re not giving it a rest between reps.
5) Dropsets, Supersets, Negatives, etc. – always try to take your muscle to, and past, its limit. Incorporate these various tricks to your sets in order obliterate the intended muscle group. You bet that after a 4-5 set dropset at the end of an exercise your biceps/triceps will be screaming. You get bigger arms by punishing them to your absolute best ability. Utilize these tricks.
Finally, the question of how to get bigger arms is irrelevant if you’re not eating enough to actually allow your body to grow. Make sure you eat above your maintenance calories so your body has enough nutrients in it to rebuild and pack on size. If you’re not eating right, no matter what you do in the gym your arms will stay the same size. Good luck!