Build Bigger Arms With These 10 Exercises
I always feel bad watching gym goers go day in and day out doing endless bicep curls trying to get bigger arms.
In order to build bigger arms, you really have to pound your triceps and do some effective bicep work. You also need to do heavy compound lifts which include squat, bench, and deadlift.
They all elicit a hormonal response that will build lean muscle - which means bigger arms.
Related - 12 Tips to Build Bigger Arms
So no matter if you are wanting to jump on a stage, look good in the gym, or run around on the beach showing off your guns, you need to take your arm training to the next level.
Choosing effective exercises, targeting all angles, and working synergistically all will help build the arms you want.
If you want continuous growth, you're going to have to have sufficient volume and intensity in your workouts.
So let's jump into the list of some of the best arm-building movements.
Building Bigger Arms
The Best Tricep Exercises
The quickest way to bigger arms is to train your triceps. They make roughly 2/3 of your arm size, so giving them some love with your biceps are smart.
Any pressing movement uses triceps for a secondary muscle. That means your bench press, overhead presses, and dumbbell presses all work your triceps. Put priority in performing compound movements before jumping to isolation movements.
Dips are a superior compound movement that builds strength and massive arms. Dips also blast your chest and shoulders.
Maintain an upright position with your head forward. As you drop down, feel the triceps load your weight and then press upward using your triceps.
Don't fully lock out your triceps at the end of your rep, and there's no need to go as low as you possibly can. Doing dips improperly can damage your shoulders like they have mine.
Perform 3 sets of 10.
I love this movement because of how many variations you can perform. This is a great isolation movement that will hit all three of your tricep heads while maintaining constant tension on your triceps during the whole exercise.
Using the rope allows us to get a full extension and stimulation in our triceps. So keep your body upright and your elbows bent and tucked against your sides.
Don't use any momentum, pull the slack out of the line and then fully extend at your elbow joints and hold for one second. This movement is great because you can mess with a slower tempo, longer holds, burnout sets, and even cheat reps using momentum.
Dumbbell Tricep Extension
This variation of a tricep extension is great to use as a finishing move. It doesn't build mass like dips or close grip bench, but the range of motion is great. You can sit or stand to perform this exercise.
Grab a dumbbell and get it above your head. This exercise can be done with one or two hands, but I recommend using two if you've never done the exercise yet.
To hold the dumbbell, you basically will make a circle with both of your hands around the handle - you'll be holding the plate part of the dumbbell.
Slowly drop the weight behind you, keeping your elbow pointed towards the ceiling. Press the dumbbell up using your triceps.
While it can be fun to do this with a 70-pound dumbbell, sticking to lighter weights and going for volume will work best.
Close Grip Bench Press
If you don't have a lot of equipment or you prefer more natural compound movements, the close grip bench is great.
Dips and close grip bench both are some of the best tricep exercises out there, dips are very hard on your shoulders if you do not execute perfect form. This is why I prefer the close grip bench.
Get in your regular bench press set up and grip the bar more narrowly on the bar. Play around with the width to find where you feel your triceps doing work without hurting your wrists — the closer your hands are, the more triceps have to work.
One-Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks
Save these for last - they are a great finishing exercise.
Brace your body against the dumbbell rack or on a bench. Bend your working arm until your elbow is in line with your shoulder, with your elbow bent 90 degrees.
Keep your elbow maintained at that level and then extend your arm backward for a full contraction, holding for 2 seconds.
Do this for 12 reps and repeat for the other side for 3 sets per side.
The Best Bicep Exercises
Instead of standing around doing dumbbell curls all day, try some of these to build bigger biceps.
Any pulling movement uses biceps for a secondary muscle. That means your pull ups, lat pull downs, and rows all work your biceps. Put priority in performing compound movements before jumping to isolation movements.
EZ Bar Curl
Using an EZ curl bar or even a straight barbell, this is a classic. The standing barbell curl enhances the overall shape of your bicep and helps replicate our biceps' basic function - flexion at the elbow joint.
Stand upright and place your hands in a comfortable position. Varying your grip width will emphasize different areas of your biceps.
Perform these with a light enough weight that you don't have to cheat using momentum, but once you get to the end of your sets a few won't hurt.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Looking to get a good stretch on the long head of your bicep? Do some curls laying on an incline bench.
The more horizontal your bench, the more stretch you will get. You don't need a lot of weight for these — proper form trumps all here.
Lie on your bench and lock your arms to your sides. Maintain a slower tempo like a 2-1-4 - two seconds to curl the weight up, pause for one second, and take four seconds to let the weight back down. Working the eccentric phase like that will help build some nice bicep peaks.
Hammer curls are a great curl variation that directly impacts your bench press. That's right, you will see an improvement in your form and ability to press as your hammer curls get stronger.
Since your elbow and wrist will finally have a biomechanical advantage, these are great to train both bicep heads and your brachialis.
This is simply a dumbbell curl where you are curling with your palms facing your body. You can perform hammer curls both arms at the same time or alternating arms.
Zottman curls are still popular today, it's great to target your biceps and your forearms. Let me tell you, they will kill your forearms.
Grab some dumbbells and curl the weight to just below your front delts. After a short pause, you will turn your palms to face down and slowly lower the weight.
You are doing a bicep curl and the eccentric part is working your forearms.
One-Arm Preacher Curls
Preacher curls are great because of the amount of stretch you get on your bicep and how much it removes any cheating the rep. Known as one of the best ways to emphasize the short head of your biceps, preacher curls are going to force so much blood into your biceps they will feel like they are going to explode.
Starting with your weaker side, place your arm firmly on the preacher bench and perform a slow and controlled rep.
Wrapping It Up
Be adventurous and try new exercises if you want to spark growth in your arms. Use good form and only use cheat reps at the end.
If you can't keep your ego in check, you're going to be half-repping those 50lb overhead dumbbell extensions forever.