If you have been lifting weights for some time and/or are just approaching the weight lifting world or simply checking out apparel on Instagram, you’ve certainly heard of the expression Sun’s out Guns out.
It simply means that when summer comes along you’d better be ready to show off your arms, shoulders and chest, - all while wearing one of our signature tank tops -.
Having a lean muscular body was the reason why I started lifting in my teens, but building stronger thicker biceps and more defined triceps was my ultimate dream / goal.
Of course a big set of arms won’t guarantee a successful relationship, a successful career and for sure won’t make you a better human being: but you can stay assure that having bigger biceps will make you feel and look good and boost your confidence – just make sure to train your other body parts as well!-.
Arm’s day is what I consider a fun and secondary workout in my routine, and while I’m not chasing 18 inches arms anymore, I’m still training them pretty hard and I know what works for me in order to gain size and make them explode on my shirt.
In this article I will break down my arms workout routine with 5 exercises that will grow your biceps and triceps: get ready to get sore.
Before we get into the specific exercises there are a few things you need to consider:
Volume is the name of the game:
Since biceps and triceps are very small muscle groups, for hypertrophy (mass building) to take place efficiently, you need to keep your volume (amount of work being done) fairly high as this causes the most muscle damage and, ultimately, growth.
Time under tension :
Tempo is extremely important and you should stick to the four digit – tempo for each exercise.
The first digit indicates how long in seconds you take to lower the weight, the second how long you pause at the bottom of the move, the third how long you take to lift the weight, and the final digit how long you pause at the top.
The accumulated time under tension increases your heart rate to burn body fat and break down muscle tissue so it’s rebuilt bigger and stronger.
Keep each rep smooth and controlled so your muscles – not momentum – do the work, and move through a full range of motion.
Eat like a machine
90% of the results you will see in the mirror are directly correlated to your eating habits.
Make sure you’re pounding a ton of nutrient-dense food every day along with high quality protein sources. Keep track of how many calories you are consuming, and if you fail to gain at least one-half a pound per week, bump your daily calories up by 200-300. In order to gain one solid inch on your arms, you are going to have to gain 10 pounds of bodyweight.
Now that we have the basic knowledge let’s get to work:
Arms Workout Growth Program:
Twice a week, for 8 weeks – Progressive overload: make sure you can control the weight and maintain proper form
- Chin Ups : 4 sets to failure,
- Seated and Incline Dumbbell Curls : 6 sets x 20/15/12/8/6/4 reps
- Rope Triceps Pulldowns : 4 sets x 12/10/8/6 reps
- One Arm Concentration Curl on Incline Bench : 4 sets x 15/12/8/6 reps + 1 Rep Maximum weight
- Triceps Gauntlets – Skull Crushers with Dumbbell on the floor : 4 sets until failure
At the end of this workout your arms will be toasted, make sure you rest your biceps the next day and focus on other muscle groups AKA legs.
1 – Chin Ups
Although this is exercise is probably the king of back development, it is also a phenomenal biceps builder.
A mistake is to use bad form and too much weight. Quality of the form should always be the number one. It's not how many repetitions you can do, but how well you do the repetitions.
I like to perform my Chin Ups at the beginning of my Arm Workout: this way I will stimulate my mind muscle connection delivering the right signals to my biceps right from the get-go.
When focusing on growing my arms I perform Chin Ups twice a week, at least 4 sets to failure.
This is a link to a very useful tutorial on how to properly perform Chin Ups.
2 – Seated and Incline Dumbell Curls
The incline Dumbbell curl is what you need to add into your workout routine.
This workout isolates the long head of your bicep, stretches it and pushes you to apply more force while contracting. This means that it can be a great exercise if you are looking to maximize the bicep peak.
Studies have shown that the incline dumbbell curl activates the muscles in your bicep more than any other exercise and this is why. While performing an incline dumbbell curl, your arms tend to move behind your body, which stretches the long head of the biceps. This muscle runs over the shoulder joint so the stretch goes all the way to your shoulder. When you stretch a muscle before contracting, your muscle is able to contract with more force taking on the majority of the load during an exercise. Since the long head of the biceps makes up the mass of the biceps peak, the incline curl is an effective exercise for building the biceps peak.
Here is a link on how to perform a seated dumbbell curl.
3 – Rope Triceps Pushdowns
One of my favorites and also a great beginner's exercise.
This move zones in on your triceps – but only if you do it right. If you use too much weight, you’ll involve your back and shoulder muscles, defeating the purpose. If you can’t keep your shoulders down, lighten the load.
Here’s a link to the the Rope Triceps Pushdown
4 – One Arm Concentration Curl over Incline Bench
This is probably the exercise that made the difference in my biceps and boosted the growth in just a few weeks.
Standing one-arm dumbbell curl over incline bench is a crossbreed of dumbbell preacher curls and concentration curls.
The hand is in fixed position and the movement is slow and concentrated.
Some athletes and coaches believe that this exercise (just like concentration curls) emphasizes the peak of biceps muscle.
Standing one-arm dumbbell curl over incline bench is a great exercise for the bicep isolation and train in particular the bottom of the bicep by strengthening the insertion with the forearm.
This exercise doesn’t involve the deltoids, but involves the forearm as additional muscle. Use your free hand to hold on to the bench and keep your balance, or to help the other hand complete extra repetitions at the end of a set.
Click here to see how to properly perform the one arm concentration curl
5 – Dumbbell Skull crushers on the Floor
Congratulations for making it this far, brave soul!
The grand finale is a gauntlet that will crush what little spirit remains within you.
It involves five pairs of dumbbells that incrementally go up in weight: i never count the reps as i go to failure.
I usually start with the heaviest set of dumbbells all way up to the lightest, like this:
30lbs -> 25lbs -> 20lbs -> 15lbs -> 10lbs.
By the time you work your way to the last set of dumbbell you triceps will scream and your elbow will ache: I would recommend using compression elbow sleeve to keep them tight and minimize the impact.
This is basically a variation of the Skull Crushers with dumbbells, I like to keep this exercise as the very last and go to failure.
Here is a fun video of this grueling challenge from CT Fletcher.
There are literally hundreds of variations and combinations of these exercises you can perform to grow your arms so don’t be afraid to experiment and most of all be patient!
Your arms will not grow over night so make sure you stay consistent and fuel your guns with the proper nutrition.