Big Arms Fast: A Scientific Approach

August 4, 2013 | Chris Hitchko

Must See Strength Training Videos

Guys want them and girls love them. A set of sleeve-busting arms is usually one of the top reasons guys hit the gym. Although thousands of variations of Curls may leave lifters sore, it doesn't mean they are effective. Building larger arms requires the right program, one that enhances a workout routine without wasting time.

Three muscles make up the bulk of your arms: biceps brachii, triceps brachii and medial deltoid.

The biceps lie on the front of the arm and have two main jobs, to bend the elbow (known as elbow flexion) and to rotate the hand inward.

The triceps have three heads: lateral, medial and long head. All three extend the elbow, but they also have individual functions. The long head extends the humerus, pulling the arm behind the body. This aspect is important. To maximize size, athletes need not only to bend the elbow to engage the triceps, but also to pull the arm behind the body to engage the long head specifically.

If you're looking to add size to your arms, your shoulders matter, too. Several muscles are involved, but the medial deltoid gives you the most big-arm bang for your weightlifting buck by improving the overall appearance of your arms and shoulders.

Although it seems rather obvious that building larger arms requires more direct arm work, frequency of training isn't the only factor to consider. Here are three main principles to apply to your workout routine for greater arm development:

1. Overload principle

To challenge their muscles to grow to their maximum potential, lifters must use overload stimulus. Continuing the same lifting routine will produce mediocre results at best. The muscles need to be challenged.

2. Train for hypertrophy

Hypertrophy, the growth of muscle cells, requires specific variables to be most effective. Of those variables, intensity and rest time are most important. Although heavier strength training does have a place, for optimal muscle growth, perform 8-12 reps and limit rest time to 30-45 seconds.

3. Consistency and frequency

Performing Curls once a week will not get the job done. Athletes looking to build bigger arms should train several times a week to provide a large enough stimulus for growth.

The following workout has an optimal mix of exercises to develop the biceps, triceps and medial deltoid. Perform them at the end of your workouts a few times a week for the next six weeks, allowing one or two days of rest between sessions.

Biceps

Triceps

Medial Deltoid

For an added challenge at the end of each workout, perform the following two circuits in order:

Circuit 1. Chin-Up/Close-Grip Push-Up/Upright Row 

Perform as many Chin-Ups as possible. Then perform as many Close Grip Push-Ups as possible. Finally, grab a barbell and perform a set of 10-12 reps of Upright Rows. Rest 30 seconds before repeating the circuit three times.

Circuit 2. Bicep Curl Drop Set

Find a weight that allows you to properly perform 12 repetitions. Move down to a weight that allows you to perform at least 8 repetitions. Lower the weight again so you can finish with 10 reps (aim for 30 total reps). See how Thomas Jones uses drop sets to build bigger arms.

Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
Must See
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 86,468
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 41,499,378
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,081,467

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,016,699
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,631
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,354
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,676
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,362
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,462
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,004
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,053

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

YardBarker