Building Big Arms - Part 1

If you want to build a set of arms which turn heads then you need to start being intelligent about the way you train them. We use the phrase ‘’arm’’ rather than bicep because after all, the triceps accounts for approximately 66% of overall upper arm mass. It’s clear then, to build a great set of arms you need to look at each and every angle.
In order to make this as informative as possible we are going to split this into two parts. Part 1 will talk about triceps development and we will share some great tips and secrets we have learned along the way.

The triceps is a 3 headed muscle (sounds a bit like a Monster and with the right training that can certainly happen!!) – We have the long head, medial head and lateral head. To stimulate growth right across the surface area of the entire muscle group you need to ensure you are using different angles and planes of motion. This is a common mistake a lot of beginners make with their triceps training. Pushdowns tend to be the only exercise they knowingly use, although bench pressing is also a great tri builder!

With a little groundwork laid down let’s discover the best ways to force growth across each head.

1 – Push Hard
There are two bread and butter triceps builders we stand by and they are the close grip bench press and weighted dips. Both of these exercises are better performed in the lower rep ranges of anywhere between 4-8 depending on the workout. Regard these two movements as your ‘’builders’’ – they will help excite HTMUs (high threshold motor units) and get the muscle fibres across the triceps firing. With that said, always remember to keep your elbows tucked by your side with these exercises.

2 – Overhead Work Works
When you look at most people’s triceps they really lack any significant ‘long head’ development (the head that runs down the inside of your arm) and that is often due to a lack of overhead work. It’s a stubborn muscle to recruit, relatively speaking and as a result you need to dig a little deeper. Utilise overhead EZ bar extensions and overhead dumbbell extensions to kick-start recruitment in this area. Our top tip here would be to work in a 12-20 rep range and pause for 2 seconds at the bottom of each rep and really stretch the triceps as you do this. You will feel that in the morning!

3 – Isometric Magic
Some muscles and the biomechanics involved lend themselves to isometric work; triceps are certainly one of those muscle groups! To finish your workouts try using some pushdowns with slightly lighter than usual weight. Focus on a constant rep tempo with a real emphasis on squeezing the triceps at the bottom of each rep – imagine them jumping out of your skin! At this point reps and constant tension are worth more than weight lifted.

That concludes part 1! In part 2 we will cover the essentials for bicep growth!

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