Ask a kid to show you their muscles and there's a good chance they'll flex their arms in a front bicep pose. This is probably because the arms are the muscles which are on show the most.
Arms are probably the most common muscle group you'll see people working on daily in gyms around the world. This can be for performance reasons, as well as to look good, with many men aiming for bigger arms and women aiming for lean, toned arms. Before we go into arm training and the workouts that I find effective, it's important to learn and understand the anatomy of the muscles that collectively make up the arms …
Triceps make up most of the arms, around two-thirds. They are made up of three different muscle heads – long, lateral and medial – which all need to be worked using different exercises and range of movements to fully develop, giving you whats known as the 'horse shoe-shaped' muscle. In my opinion, the best exercise to build the triceps is the basic parallel bar dip, which allows for a good stretch at the start of each rep and a squeezed contraction at the top.
The most flexed muscle, the biceps are actually a very small muscle when compared to the likes of the legs or back. The biceps consist of two heads – long and short – and both require different exercises and grips to target each head separately. In my opinion, the best exercise for building bigger overall biceps is the basic barbell curl, with the elbows tucked by your sides. This allows a full straight arm stretch and full curl contraction on each rep.
My arm training …
As noted above, the arms aren't a big muscle group, so I train them twice a week with different workouts and rep ranges to hit different muscle fibres. The triceps get a lot of work during chest and shoulder sessions with heavy presses. The biceps get worked during back sessions with heavy rows, so I finish my chest workout with some lighter tricep work in the 12-15 rep range, with cable or machine exercises and the same with biceps after finishing my back workout. I then train biceps and triceps again together with a heavier, more intense workout towards the end of the week. This is after giving them a couple of days recovery, as you can see in my training split below:
Monday – chest, triceps and calves (light triceps)
Tuesday - legs
Wednesday - back and biceps (light biceps)
Thursday - rest
Friday - shoulders and calves
Saturday - arms (heavy)
Sunday - rest (wrestling training)
Hitting biceps and triceps twice a week with different exercises and rep ranges has really worked for me. They are constantly having to adapt to new workouts and fresh stimulus, which shocks them into new growth. I wasn't blessed with the best genetics for the gym and bodybuilding, but I have trained smart and consistently to change my body type from an ectomorph to more of a mesomorph, which I consider myself now, with heavy compound lifting backed with proper nutrition.
How to get rid of small arms – workout
Triceps workout one (immediately after finishing chest workout)
Cable rope pushdown - 3 x 12-15 reps
Over head dumbbell extension - 3 x 12-15 reps
Cable tricep kick back - 3 x 12-15 reps
Biceps workout one (immediately after back workout)
Bicep cable preacher curls - 3 x 12-15 reps
Dumbbell hammer curls - 3 x 12-15 reps
Reverse curl - 3 x 12-15 reps
Tricep and bicep workout two (do each Saturday, with heavy weights)
Cable push downs - 4 x 10 reps
Weighted chain dips - 4 x 10 reps
Skull crushers - 4 x 10 reps
Over head cable extension - 4 x 10 reps
Standing barbell curl - 4 x 10 reps
Seated alternating dumbbell curls - 4 x 10 reps
Machine preacher curl - 4 x 10 reps
Cable rope curls - 4 x 10 reps
I will sometimes 'Super Set' my heavy arm workout just to mix things up. This involves hitting the first tricep exercise and then immediately hitting the first bicep exercise as one set, then resting 90 seconds to two minutes, before starting the next set for each pair of exercises.
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