Who doesn’t want a jacked pair of guns that become the center of attention regardless of where you are at any given moment? Well, chances are that if you’re reading then you wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to the idea…
Now, let’s get something straight before we continue. Your arms can only get as big as your genetics allow. And we all have different genetics so the shape, muscle attachments, rate of growth and ultimate appearance of your arms is exclusive to you only.
But… don’t be dismayed.
Everyone can sport a pair of arms that will turn heads but achieving this requires hard work, consistency, and good nutrition. But knowledge is also key because knowing the anatomy of the arm muscles (biceps, triceps, and forearms) will allow you to train each head effectively for maximum growth.
So, here’s some information on arm muscle anatomy and some crazy good workouts for guaranteed arm growth…
Anatomy Of The Arm Muscles
The arm muscles consist of several heads that you need to be aware of to ensure you’re promoting maximum growth potential. These muscles all play a role in how big your arms can get and you want to effectively utilize every bit of muscle possible.
The biceps are no doubt “show” muscles because it’s the only upper body muscle visible from the front (with the forearms) if wearing a short sleeve shirt. And make no mistake, people notice them.
Now, the biceps brachii has two heads… the inner and outer. The outer or long head originates at the top of the scapula. While the inner or short head starts from just above the shoulder joint. But both attach at the elbow.
The lower portion of the bicep helps with forearm function while the upper portion plays a role in moving the arms in different directions.
There’s also another muscle located just beneath the biceps and on the outer portion of the long head of the bicep called the brachialis; which is the prime elbow mover.
Now, the triceps brachii has three heads (lateral, medial, and long) which make up 2/3 of upper arm mass.
And this muscle runs along the humerus between the elbow and shoulder functioning to extend (triceps flexed) and retract (bicep flexed) the forearms. But another important function of the tricep is to stabilize the shoulder joint at the top of the humerus.
The forearm muscles run from the elbows to the wrists and are composed of extrinsic and intrinsic which move the wrists forearms, elbows, and hands.
The intrinsic muscles pronate and supinate the radius and ulna to move the forearms while the extrinsic muscles extend and flex the digits of the hand. And the brachioradialis (top side of the forearm) also flexes the elbow joint.
The brachioradialis actually takes a higher contribution to elbow flexion than the biceps brachii (which has a mechanical disadvantage) when the wrist is pronated.
So, hammer or overhand curls will work this muscle while underhand curls will work the palm side of the forearms. But you can do isolation work for the forearms if you so choose.
3 Effective Arm Workouts
We’ve put together 3 very effective arm workouts to ensure that your arms will have to grow to adapt to the training stimulus. And you can alternate these workouts but there’s no need to train arms more than once or twice per week.
Now, the arm muscles are smaller than your bigger muscle groups like legs, chest, back, and shoulder. So, you don’t want to annihilate them with too many sets and reps. However, the workouts are intense which is necessary to stimulate growth.
You always want to warm-up though before training with challenging weight to protect the joints and muscles from injury. So, do a few sets pyramiding up in weight using 30% and then 50% of your one-rep max.
Use a weight that is challenging that will allow you to reach failure without compromising form. And the recommended rest times in between sets are listed beneath each exercise.
Arm Workout 1:
Arm Workout 2:
Bench dip 4 x 12-15 superset w/ 4 x 12
Arm Workout 3:
Diamond push-up 3 x AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
Incline dumbbell overhead extension 2 x 30 drop set (Choose a weight where you can perform 15 reps to failure, then drop the weight by 5 pounds each time you reach failure until you’ve done 30 reps).
Chin-up 3 x AMRAP
Why Did We Choose These Exercises?
When devising an effective workout, we always make sure to choose exercises which will optimize your efforts. And we don’t just choose them based on which ones we feel are best. But rather, we make our selections based on research.
And one source we feel delivers on accuracy is the American Council on Exercise (ACE) because they regularly enlist university researchers to compare and determine which exercises are most effective based on electromyographic (EMG) activity.
So, let’s discuss the different movements and why they are effective…
In one ACE-sponsored study, researchers found that the concentration curl elicited the most muscle activity in the biceps. And another study by ACE concluded that the triangle/diamond push-up was best for the triceps. (4, 5)
Both studies involved properly trained volunteers that performed the exercises equally to ensure a fair assessment.
Now, that doesn’t mean these exercises are better than all others for hitting every head most effectively. But overall, they were superior and the reason being is that you can really isolate the target muscles without involving other muscle groups too much.
For example, while the standing barbell bicep curl is a beast of a movement, it can be too easy for the upper arms to move forward which will take some of the load off of the biceps and place it on the front deltoids (although, this is typical and acceptable with cheat curls to an extent).
But that’s why maintaining the proper form is important to ensure you’re actually working the target muscle.
The concentration curl is performed with your arm pinned to your inner thigh (when properly executed) and torso bent over into the movement. So, this significantly reduces cheating and rocking.
But the cable curl, chin-up, and barbell curl are also effective exercises too according to the study. And you should interchange them to get the most out of your bicep workouts.
Now, as for the triangle push-up for triceps, ACE research found that it is a superior movement but not by a long shot because there are other exercises that are pretty close in overall effectiveness.
“All across the board, the triangle push-ups elicited the most muscle activity in our subjects,” explained researcher Brittany Boehler, B.S. “The dips and triceps kickbacks weren’t that far behind either. Essentially, all three exercises could be used interchangeably.”
Other tricep exercises like overhead extensions and pushdowns are effective as well and should be utilized although EMG activity for all heads was lower than the push-ups, kickbacks, and dips.
Now, you don’t need to train with massive poundages for these exercises because you’ll notice that when you really isolate a muscle; you won’t be able to lift as much weight because larger muscles are not assisting as much.
“Most people’s triceps are relatively weak, especially if you isolate them,” said Porcari. “If you’re doing the kickbacks correctly, it doesn’t really take a whole lot of weight to get a good workout.”
And it’s really that simple. Your training shouldn’t be complicated but just make sure to give a good effort and the gains should follow.
It’s Time To Grow!
There you have it… three intense arm workouts that are sure to have your sleeves stretching.
These are simple, yet effective workouts utilizing exercises that are proven. But you have to train with intensity and allow yourself enough time to recover in between while making sure to have proper nutrition.
Your level of training experience may determine which workout suits you best but feel free to take on any one of them as long as you have good form and don’t over train. As doing a workout once or twice per week is plenty to see the desired results!