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How To Get Big Arms – My 5 Tips From 5 Years Of Lifting

5 Tips To Get Big Arms
When it comes to hitting the gym most guys are focused on one thing, their biceps.
Standing infront of the mirror doing set after set of dumbbell concentration curls, hammer curls, spider curls and every other
variation of curl known to man with light dumbbell is not the road to big arms. If you want to get big arms you've got to
understand the proper training principles (which apply to any muscle group) in order to really make them grow.

Six years ago my arms measured a measely 11.5" when flexed.
After a just under two years of curling, curling and more curling I was able to get them to the 13" mark 'not bad I thought'...
But that's as far as I could get.

Light weight, high volume biceps curls are NOT the answer to get big arms.

It's only after I learnt how to train my arms properly that I was able to get big arms, with them measuring in just shy of 17" when flexed today hovering around
the single digit body fat range (another thing, if someone claims to truly have arms 18"+ as a natural bodybuilder chances are their body fat is in the high teens or early
twenties. Arm measurements should be taken when lean, ideally around 10% or lower).

See also
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So How Do You Actually Get Big Arms?

pause reps

Tip 1 - Hit 3 Exercises Per Muscle Group

There's no benefit to hitting 10 exercises for biceps and 10 exercises for triceps.
If you're lifting heavy and maintaining the right intensity there's no way in hell you'd be able to make it to the 6th exercise, let alone the 10th!

I recommend performing 3 exercises for your biceps, 4 sets a piece and likewise, 3 exercise for your triceps at once again, 4 sets per piece.
12 work set for your biceps per week and 12 work sets for your triceps per week.

I used to fear low volume, thinking there was no way I was doing enough to actually reap any tangible results - but once you've got your progressive overload and your rep range sorted
you'll soon see it's a matter of exertion and workload as opposed to pure volume which many newbies fall into the trap of.

Tip 2 - Apply Progressive Overload Each And Every Workout

There should be no guess-work when it comes time to hit your barbell bicep curls, trying to remember the weight you've lifted previously is a recipe for diaster.
Record your lifts so you know what you need to do the following workout to beat your prevous record.

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Supplements, ridiculous training protocols and broscience tips won't help you get big arms, but progressive overload will.
How can you apply progressive overload?

In short you must increase the tension on the targeted muscle group (in this case your biceps and triceps).
Increasing tension can be applied via an increase in weight, an increase in reps or an increase in time under tension (reduction of rest periods etc.)

Check out my guide on how to apply progresisve overload here

Tip 3 - Focus On The Mass Movers

In order to get big arms you need to focus on the big lifts.
The barbell bicep curl is the king for adding mass and strength to the biceps, meanwhile the close grip bench press and weighted dip are the key to adding
Strength and size to the triceps.

There are a TON of arm exercises out there, none of which can apply anywhere near as much stress on the muscles as these.
Think about it - when performing a barbell biceps curl we're able to curl anywhere up to 150lbs ~ this obliterates the biceps, forcing growth.
Meanwhile, the over the bench one arm dumbbell concentration curl, often performed with a dumbbell around the 15lb mark cannot and will not replicate
the stress of the barbell exercise.

See also
My Stronglifts 5x5 Review - Before and After Results & My Thoughts on the Routine

3 exercises is all you need per muscle group, so focusing on the big, key movements is important - no need to throw in every variation of curl, pushdown and kickback.

Tip 4 - Don't Superset

If you're rushed for time on a particular day then supersetting may very well be the way to go.
If you're supersetting a bicep exercise with another bicep exercise or a bicep exercise with a tricep exercise (opposing muscle groups) in an attempt to force your arms to grow you're going the wrong way about it.
The build up of lactic acid along with the increase in heart rate results in multiple sub par exercise and lifts.

If you're supersetting a bicep curl and a tricep dip even though you're working opposing muscle groups the fatigue will still affect your tricep dip - as a result you may not be able to get
as many reps or lift as heavy as usual, once again cutting yourself short and failing to push passed your previous record to force progressive overload.

My recommended workout structure to get big arms is simple:

Exercise 1 - 4 sets
Exercise 2 - 4 sets
Exercise 3- 4 sets

Exercise 1 - 4 sets
Exercise 2 - 4 sets
Exercise 3- 4 sets

Because my triceps are stronger I train them second, if my biceps were stronger and more dominant I would train them first.
Weak points always come first.

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Tip 5 - Keep Your Rep Range Low 'N' Consistent

Studies have proven that the 4 - 6 rep range is the optimal rep range to build both muscle size and strength as a natural gym-goer.
Benching, deadlifting and squatting in the 4 - 6 rep range is relatively straight forward, however when it comes to performing your arm exercises in this low rep range many guys begin to
disregard form entirely just to move the weight.

If you're cheating on your form you're wasting your time.

Your form comes first.

No swinging on your bicep exercises, with a brief contraction at the top of each repetition.
No flaring of the elbows on your triceps exercises with a brief lockout and contraction at the top of each repetition.

Provided you're able to maintain good form you should be aiming for 4 - 6 reps per set.

What's Your Take On Building Big Arms? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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