Big arms are undeniably a status symbol. No one wants to listen to the pencil-necked personal trainer who constantly dismisses the biggest guys in the gym and favors functional BOSU ball band curls.
However, developing big arms is not all about “hitting the bi’s” every workout. It requires a structured approach, animal tenacity, and a willingness to endure a rush of lactic acid into your veins as you try to crush just one more rep.
It also requires hitting all the muscles in your arms, not just the ones you flex in the mirror every day. You want to work your triceps just as much as your biceps.
The triceps have three heads, the biceps only two. What this means is that if you’re working for bigger arms, three-fifths of your training should go to your triceps, with two-fifths hitting your biceps.
If you leave it there, however, you would be neglecting one of the most beneficial muscles both aesthetically and functionally by not training your forearms directly. The forearms impact grip strength, which is highly beneficial for any pulling exercises you do.
The forearms are also the most visible muscles when you wear a shirt, so although you might not be able to show everyone the pecs you’ve been sculpting, no one will ever doubt your forearm game.
With that in mind, here are three radical exercises that will help take your arms to the next level in both size and strength.
This exercise is a favorite of Vince Gironda, one of bodybuilding’s pioneers. It’s done using an EZ bar or a straight bar for Curls, while bending forward 10-20 degrees at the waist. The result is an exercise where it’s impossible to cheat. More beneficially, the top of the movement, where one can normally rest, is turned into an intense muscular contraction. Check out the video above to see retired NFL running back Tiki Barber’s biceps routine.
This exercise is great because it accurately mimics the “grab-and-hold” move needed by combat sport athletes, football players and rugby players.
To make Perfect Curls even more intense, pause for 2 seconds at the top of every rep.
Learn more curl variations that will pump up your biceps.
This exercise improves upon the Close-Grip Bench by adding the increasing resistance of the band. The closer you get to lockout, the more difficult the exercise becomes.
Most people are stronger at the end position of the Bench Press, as evidenced by those who come to the gym and practice their daily regimen of half reps on the Bench Press and Triceps Push-Downs. This exercise overloads the end range of motion, enabling you to use less weight and get a better result. Do this exercise if you’re looking to get massive horseshoe-shaped triceps.
This exercise also builds explosive pushing power, because it trains you to accelerate every rep to make it out of the sticking point. This is important, because muscles that are trained slowly react slowly, whereas muscles trained rapidly can generate explosive force when needed.
To make this more intense, think about trying to “break the bar in half” at the top of every rep.
RELATED: Build a Bigger Bench With Band Presses
Single-Arm Kettlebell Curl and Press
Target: Forearms, Biceps and Triceps
This exercise makes your wrists and forearms work insanely hard to stabilize a kettlebell in the bottoms-up position while actively engaging your bi’s, tri’s and shoulders.
Grab a kettlebell by the handle and let it rest naturally by your side. Squeeze the handle extremely hard and bring the bell up to the top of a curl position, with the bottom of the kettlebell pointing at the ceiling. From that position, press the kettlebell into the ceiling, keeping your eyes on it at all times. Lower in the same fashion and repeat.
For crushing grip strength, few exercises rival bottom-up KB movements. In addition, the strength required from your core and shoulder to complete this exercise makes it one of the most efficient arm exercises for athletes in any sport.
RELATED: The Best 2 Exercises to Get Big Arms