Let’s talk about those arms.
When I got to college I really wanted some nice, big arms. I spent most of my time in high school doing track, cross country and then some lacrosse. I ran a lot and I was small, I was about 165 pounds, I had muscle but I wanted it to be better defined and more tone looking around my arms.
So, I did what every other college guy did, I went online and searched Google. I didn’t know what I do today, so I made the same mistakes that most others make…
I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to do bicep curls all the time and with every workout.
10 reps was what I should do EVERY time, and I was not concerned enough about increasing the weights I lifted.
I was wrong. And it showed, doing the same exercise day in and day out with the same weight gave me little in results.
I still had small arms!
It wasn’t until I learned from other trainers, and my mentors, about what they did to get better looking arms that I understood it.
“Train for volume and increase weights as much as possible!”The common theme when learning from them was to increase volume and increase your weights. Also, they did exercises that really worked the MAJOR muscle groups. So big back exercises helped them get bigger biceps. Good chest workouts got them good triceps.
Today I’m going to help you get better looking arms and I am going to cut through some myths. Plus I will give you my favorite exercises that I make sure to use when I am trying to tone and gain some good muscle for my arms.
To get bigger or better looking arms we need more muscle. To get more muscle we need to do two things lift heavy weight and increase our volume.
When it comes to lifting heavier I’ve talked about using a 1-10 scale when figuring out how difficult the weight you are lifting is. After each set ask yourself these questions, how hard was that set? Could I have done more? If the answer is yes, and anything under a 7 on this scale, then do more.
Next is volume, I’m going to teach you volume today, because after talking to many, many people about their fitness programs they still do not understand volume matters. 3 sets of 10 is not the same from person to person.
Just choosing the so called “bodybuilding” numbers will not make you a body builder nor will it automatically (or magically) put muscle on your bones. This is where volume is important.
Volume is the sum of ALL the work you have done. Volume is the reason you NEVER skip a set and why you try your hardest to not skip a rep.
Here is how volume works
My Volume for Bicep Curls:
So yesterday I did Bicep Curls. I did 2 sets of 12 with a 70 pound barbell and 3 sets of 8 with an 85 pound barbell. The volume of work I completed was 3,720 pounds. Here’s how I found this out.
70 lbs x 24 total reps= 1680 pounds of work completed
85 lbs x 24 total reps= 2040 pounds of work completed
1680 + 2040= 3720 total pounds completed for bicep curls
Well sure he looks great in that power rack lifting 100 pounds but his overall volume for bicep curls was 3000 total pounds of work done. So, even though Mr. Gym Bro looked great I completed over 700 pounds more of total work than he did.
Now do that over multiple biceps exercises throughout a training session and your total volume will be much higher than that of your average gym goer, plus you will be able to tell the difference because your arms will be TIRED.
That’s why you don’t just follow along with sets and reps, because you saw Gym Bro do them, but you add intensity and increasing volume to your workouts so that you can continually build muscle. And build bigger, better looking arms faster than Gym Bro.
Don’t get me wrong, I want you lifting heavy weights. I just want you to be able to get MORE bang for your buck. So, don’t go to the gym and do 372 bicep curls with a 10 pound weight… not what I’m talking about here.
When trying to build your arms, or any other muscle group, you need to incorporate BOTH increased weight and increased volume, not just one or the other.
Train smart AND train hard.
After reading why increased volume and increased weight is so important you should ALWAYS reconsider when thinking about doing less reps or skipping a set. NEVER SKIP SETS!
If you skip one set you could be potentially losing out on over a thousand pounds of work.
Alright, now the fun part.
I covered the numbers now let’s check out my favorite exercises when I am focusing on arms, specifically.
Yes, Chin Ups are primarily a back exercise, but these require such a massive output of force and power from your biceps that Chin ups make for a great muscle building exercise for both your back and your biceps. Now if you want to make them really hard let’s attach a pull-up band for some resistance. Check out the video below for form and technique.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls (Drop Sets)
Drop sets. The first time I learned about drop sets I could have punched the trainer that made me do them, if my arms were functioning correctly… But let me tell you if you add a drop set exercise to the end of your workout you will begin to see muscle gains very quickly.
The idea behind a drop set is to fatigue the muscle group you are working by doing your normal weight for the exercise then slightly dropping the total weight with each set. DO NOT put these at the start of a workout routine, because you will be burned out and unable to complete the rest of the workout for that muscle group. Here is how a drop set could look with Dumbbell Bicep Curls.
Close Grip Bench Press
Close Grip Bench is one of my favorite triceps exercises. Pay good attention when doing these because they can quickly turn into just a chest exercise if not done correctly. Make sure your hands are spaced no further than shoulder width apart.
When lowering the bar make sure you are keeping your elbows in, so when you get to the bottom they should be pretty close to your sides, they don’t NEED to touch your sides but keep them close.
When pressing up remember to keep elbows in and do not arch the back too much with this exercise, if you do you will begin pressing primarily with your chest and shoulders. Because this lift can be done with such heavy weight it is great when building muscle for the triceps.
Triceps Pushdown Drop Sets
Yup drop sets again, with this type though I will show you a different style rep range. The rep range is 10,8,6.
Look you can continue lifting like Gym Bro and slowly see muscle gains but you are here to learn how to do it the right way and efficiently. Even if you go check out big bodybuilding competitors you will find out they don’t always hang on to the 3 sets of 10 for everything. They are learning how to increase volume and increase weight the most efficient and effective way.
So, I just gave you some of the methods I use for many of my client’s (and my own) workouts. Now go, get bigger, better looking arms that would make Arnold proud.
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