How do you get awesome arms?
I’m talking building bigger, better looking biceps and triceps in the most efficient possible way?
You do it by simply understanding a few very basic muscle building ideas…
Awesome arms secret #1:
More is not better.
Here’s something that took me a long time to realize because it is just so damn counter intuitive – doing fewer bicep curls actually seems to get me better results.
I swear, can’t make this up.
Provided I’m doing the right stuff, more is definitely not always better!
Let’s say I have two different bicep workouts to choose from:
- The Simple 3×6 straight bar bicep curl 2 times per week after I work legs (this is what I am currently doing).
- The involved 3×10 straight bar bicep curl, 3×10 preacher curl, 3×10 incline curl routine I also did 2 times per week after I worked legs in the past.
To be honest, I get results from both of them, but routine one will give me results that are just as good, most likely better because I won’t wear myself out as I explain here.
If you are constantly burning a muscle group out so it can’t recover, it just wont grow. Truth is, it will shrink!
It is much the same principle I started working my calves with.
You hear all of the pumped up muscle heads telling guys that the only way to get calves to grow is to torcher them with grueling amounts of volume.
Well, I use to literally do 3×10’s-20’s on 5 different exercises following my leg day twice per week. It would take 20 minutes of nonstop super-setting to get through that. I did it for the better part of 3 years and although my calves would be sore after almost ever single workout, you basically couldn’t tell I worked calves much!
I mean, sure. I got some growth and definition. But as a guy who was not blessed with giant lower legs, I’ve had just as good results doing a simple 4×6 one exercise routine following my leg day twice per week.
Not making this up, give it a try.
It is really no different with biceps.
More is not necessarely better. You want to hit the muscle with a solid weight that makes you really trigger growth. You don’t want to drive the muscle into the ground so it can’t recover!
Awesome arm secret #2:
The “Best” arm exercise really doesn’t exist.
Don’t really care what you’ve heard, arms grow when they are forced to move weight. It’s no different than any other exercise.
Think about what types of exercises make your arms move the most weight.
Is it barbell bicep curls?
Is is preacher curls?
Is is cable curls?
Nope. It is compound movements like pullups and hang-cleans and things like that. No joke my friend. Listen to what I am about to say – if I never did another bicep curl I could still grow massive arms. Nope – I wasn’t blessed with awesome arm genetics or anything special like that. It’s just simply physics. I’d focus on moving weight and they would grow.
As Lee Boyce correctly cites in his solid article for Men’s Health “Supersize Your Biceps Without A Single curl”:
“A well-developed brachialis pops up the middle of the arm. Overhead pulling exercises—like pullups, chinups, and V-grip pulldowns—are some of the best ways to build your brachialis, says Jon-Erik Kawamoto, C.S.C.S., a personal trainer from St. John’s, Canada.” – bold text added by me for emphasis
So again, you don’t need curls!
As personal trainer/police officer James Chan points out in his article for Muscle and Strength “Big Biceps Without Curls: The Anti-Isolation Bodybuilding Method”:
“The explosive movement of the clean will activate the fast-twitch fibers (Type IIb) of the biceps and brachialis. Type IIb fibers have far more growth potential than slow-twitch fibers (Type I)…”
Does this mean I don’t do bicep curls. No. I still do them. Honestly, they can help shape the bicep muscle and obviously make it grow bigger, but the idea that bicep curls alone are the best arm exercise to build massive biceps is pretty damn stupid!
Awesome arm exercise secret #3:
Consistently hit them – don’t “destroy” them.
This is really a variation of #1, but it is worth repeating. I’ve typically had the best success with my arms if I don’t destroy them in one workout. This is why I am currently only doing about 4 sets for 6 reps twice per week.
Sure. I will still go back to a once a week arm workout every now and then , however I have great success just hitting them twice per week just enough to provide a good stimulus.
Is this the best way to do it for everyone?
No. Probably not. But if you are not able to get growth doing your current high volume arm routine, then try switching it up to something like this. The objective of your arm workout is not to be sore after it is done, it is simply to create a state where your muscles are forced to grow in order to lift ever increasing weight like I explain in this post.
Awesome Arm Secret #4:
Triceps are Half the Arm!
If you are anything like most guys, when I say arms you think “biceps”.
You think in terms of bicep curls. Here’s the thing though, the triceps muscle plays a major roll in how big and defined your arms look.
If you think about it you could make the point that your triceps are actually more important than your biceps. They are actually a stronger muscle. Just think about it, when you bench press or do military press, your triceps are moving a major portion of that weight.
Naturally, having bigger triceps will make your arms much bigger!
So as with biceps, I currently work my triceps twice per week with a simple 4×6 routine after my chest workout.
My point is simple, stop neglecting your triceps!
#1 Biceps Exercise:
Try This 30-Day Biceps Experiment!
So lets you and me try a little 30 day experiment.
I don’t really believe that there is one “best” bicep exercise. What I mean is, you can get development doing a number of different curl variations.
And, as I stated, curls are not even close to the best way to get bigger guns.
It is the heavy compound movements like deadlifts, presses, pullups and hang-cleans that are going to do it for you. But, assuming you are already doing some of those vital lifts… just humor me on this.
In my opinion, if I were to pick a bicep curl I’d simply do the standard old “tried and true” straight bar curl. It is just a very easy lift. Hard to F** up! Don’t rock back and forth. Just use a weight that makes you work and keep good form.
For the next 30 days do bicep curls after your leg workout for a very simple 4×6 (4 sets of 6 reps). I give my take on optimal sets and reps here.
I will tell you exactly what my current weight progression is for my curls.
- Set #1: Just the bar
- Set #2: A 10 lb on each side
- Set #2: 20 lbs on each side
- Set #4: 30 lbs on each side.
I just keep putting 10 lbers on each side of the bar.
I don’t give two cents how much weight you can do. Just start lighter and progress heavier using weight that makes you strain on that last couple reps of set 3 and 4.
Don’t do anything beyond that. Done and done! Leave the F**n gym. Period!
Just do that twice per week for the next 30 days and resist the gnawing temptation to do more dork!
#1 Triceps Exercise:
Try This 30-Day Triceps Experiment!
Again, not really a #1 triceps exercise here for the simple fact that doing extensions and skull crushers is not going to give you better triceps development than doing compound lifts like military press and bench press. I mean, those are the ultimate way to stimulate triceps growth.
But, assuming you are doing those already then once again, humor me here.
For the next 30 days simply do a 4×6 routine twice per week following your chest workout. I am assuming you are doing chest twice per week. But if you are not, just work your triceps twice per week doing the 4×6 routine.
If I were to choose one triceps exercise I would do a straight bar skull crusher. Is it the best triceps isolation lift? I really have no clue! But it works and is dynamite for stimulating your triceps muscle.
I’m sure there are some meat-heads out there who disagree…. but, I don’t really give a shit.
So, here’s exactly my weight progression:
- Set #1: 10 lbs on each side
- Set #2: 20 lbs on each side
- Set #3: 25 lbs on each side
- Setp #4: 35 lbs on each side
I really don’t care if you do more or less weight. As with bicep curls, start lighter and work your way up so that by the 4th set you have a hard time doing the last few reps. If you fail, who cares!
Once done leave the gym. Do not, under any circumstance do more! Follow Awesome Arm Secret #1: More is not better!
Just do that twice per week.
2 Exercise Workout Routine For Awesome Arms
Remember, we are just experimenting here.
If you don’t get results feel free to write me a nasty message. Won’t be the first time.
I actually had some dufas email me and tell me I was being too damn long winded in one of my articles. Hell man, just skip ahead!… nobody told you you had to read every single word!
So. My basic workout routine currently is as follows:
- Chest/back – TRICEPS
- Legs/shoulders – BICEPS
- Chest/back – TRICEPS
- Legs/shoulders – BICEPS
So, for our little 30 day experiment just fit your biceps and triceps in the same way I have here. Do a simple 4×6 at the end of the appropriate day. You are probably doing a similar workout routine to what I am doing here though already. Just add in your biceps and triceps.
Don’t do a damn thing else for your biceps or triceps other than what I have laid out here and remember to follow the 4 secrets I discussed above.
If you are not doing compound lifts, I suggest you add them in because that is what is ultimately going to give you the most growth. Especially hang cleans and pullups.
I don’t really have much else to say in this article because it is so damn straight forward.
Don’t do less. Don’t do more. Just do the 30 day experiment as I’ve laid out.
Don’t overthink it. If you already have Goliath arms – this isn’t for you. Just keep doing what you’re doing dumb dumb!
If you are struggling to get good looking arms, this is exactly for you. Give the experiment a try and share your results at the end of the 30-day period. I’m guessing you will find it quite useful.