Having big, strong arms is the goal of most gym-goers, but building muscles in these limbs is no easy task, as you’ve surely noticed. It’s a slow process that takes time and effort, even with the right exercises.
If you really want to have bigger and more muscular arms, you can start some science-backed strategies to accelerate the growth of your biceps and triceps. And that’s what we’ll talk about in this article.
Let’s learn how to build bigger, more powerful arms quickly with these 4 tips.
Tip 1: lift the right volume
The first thing will be to make sure you are lifting the right volume because it is known that there is a positive relationship between muscle growth and weekly volume.
If you haven’t seen the expected results in terms of your arm growth, you’ll want to increase the number of weekly sets you dedicate to your biceps and triceps workouts, because that’s probably the solution.
A 2019 research on trained men compared the results of doing 6, 18 or 30 sets per week for triceps and biceps.
The researchers found after 2 months of evaluation that there was a significant dose-response effect observed for biceps growth and total number of weekly sessions, with a similar trend observed with triceps as well. (Reference)
This means that higher volume led to more accelerated arm growth, but it does not mean that you should increase volume to do more sets each week; what it does mean is that gradually increasing weekly volume can accelerate growth.
Let’s see how you can build bigger arms:
- Add one additional set per week to your arm workouts and/or add additional exercises.
- Progressively increase to 20 or more sets per week for biceps and triceps, based on how often you train your arms. This includes the indirect work you get from compound exercises.
- Reduce to the initial volume when there is no more progress. It will help mitigate fatigue and sensitize the muscles for more noticeable growth when you repeat procedure number 2.
- Perform and repeat the entire process described above and you will see that you will gain faster arm growth.
Tip 2: move arm exercises to the beginning of your workout.
You’ll probably want to start with compound exercises, but if your goal is to gain bigger arms, you should start your workout with arm exercises.
Scientific studies have come across a trend where lifters make better gains for exercises that are performed at the beginning of a session. (Reference)
Another study compared the effects of two workouts. One, performing compound exercises before arm isolation, and the second, doing arm isolation first before compound exercises. (Reference)
The researchers found after 3 months of training and observation, significantly greater triceps growth when arm isolation exercises were performed first. A similar trend was found for the biceps.
The researchers concluded, following the same finding in another study, that if an exercise is important for individual training goals, a large or small muscle group exercise should be performed at the beginning of each training session.
This means, in other words, that moving arm exercises to the beginning of the workout will help prioritize and accelerate the growth of your arms.
Tip 3: Focus on progressing your arm exercises.
In addition to altering the order of your arm isolation exercises, you should also focus on progressing them weekly as you would compound exercises; this is a determining factor in building bigger arms.
A 2017 study looked at the relationship between strength and muscle growth, and this is what the researchers concluded:
“Changes in isolation movement performance appear to have a stronger relationship with changes in muscle size than changes in compound movement performance.” (Reference)
Somewhat likely because they have less of a skill component than compound movements.
On a weekly basis, you should focus on two main tasks:
- progressively raise the number of repetitions per set.
- Slowly increase the weight you can lift with arm isolation exercises.
Tip 4: don’t change exercises frequently
None of the above tips will do much good if you are constantly changing your isolation exercises.
This “surprising” the muscle by subjecting it to new exercises and stimuli every week is not only not a good approach, it’s also not very valid.
The key to bigger arms without waiting too long is not to change the types of stimuli on a weekly basis, but to try to increase them week after week, even a little bit.
First, choose the right arm isolation exercises. Then stick to these with a focus on strengthening your biceps and triceps, as I explained. This way, you will be able to track your progress more consistently.
If you put the 4 tips in this article into practice correctly, I guarantee you’ll start to notice major changes in your arm growth quickly.
How to get big arms at home
Fortunately, you don’t need to leave home to build bigger arms, because there we have what we need to increase biceps and define triceps. Let’s take a look at what to do and how to do it.
Let’s start with triceps exercises.
Bodyweight Dips: stand with your back to a chair, bench, or bed, which you should grab with your hands shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows until your arms and forearms are at a 90-degree angle. To stand up, use only your triceps. Repeat this movement.
- Crab Walk: sit on the floor with your hands behind your back and your legs bent in front of you. Lift your hips up so that only your hands and feet are on the surface. Begin to walk forward with your hands and feet.
The Impossible Press-Up: Lie on your stomach with your hands stretched above your head with your palms flat on the floor. Lift your body as high as possible using the tips of your toes and slowly return to the surface.
- Body Up: start in a plank position with your forearms shoulder-width apart. Plant your palms on the floor at chest level and lift your body up, making sure your torso remains straight at all times. Slowly lower your body back to the starting position and repeat.
These are the biceps exercises you can do at home:
- handstand to standing: stand on your hands, face down, with your feet resting on a wall. Move your hands forward and walk along the wall until you reach the bottom.
- Incline Push-Ups: place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a bed or chair, with your feet flat on the floor. Bend your arms and lower your body until your chest touches the bench. Push your body back up to the starting position.
- Shadow boxing: assume a fighting stance and do little hops with your toes as if you were boxing someone. Throw some punches. Alternate between low-and high-intensity exercises for a HIIT-style cardio session.
How to get big arms without weights
There are many men and women who don’t even imagine that they can build bigger arms outside of a gym, let alone without weights. Yes, you can and I’ll explain how.
There are 2 types of exercises to gain more muscular arms without weights: the lifting method and using body weight.
For the first of these methods, we can use canned goods from the pantry, heavy books, plastic bottles of water, juice or milk, bags of rice or socks stuffed with gravel.
Biceps exercises without weights
- Hand jug deadlift: one of the most practical yet effective biceps exercises that doesn’t require weights.
Lift the jug of water, juice or milk with your right hand while exhaling, bringing it up to your right shoulder. Your right biceps should be flexed as you lift it, but only your forearm should move.
Once your right hand is in front of your right shoulder, squeeze hard and hold the position for a second. Then, inhale as you lower the jug back to the starting position.
Do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Rest 90 seconds between sets.
- Towel Lift: another exercise you can do anywhere. All you need is a towel and a backpack.
Insert the towel through the middle of the top grip of the backpack and grab both ends with your hands. Slowly lift the backpack by flexing your biceps with your palms facing your shoulders. It’s like lifting weights, but you use a backpack instead. If you want more weight, fill it with more stuff.
- Pull-up biceps curl: also known as the over-knee biceps curl.
Sit in a chair with your feet apart on the floor. Grab the jug in your right hand and lean forward to place your right elbow against the inside of your right thigh. Have your arm extended downward with your wrist straight. Place the jug near your right ankle and rest your left hand on your left knee. Exhale as you flex your right biceps and raise the jug to your chest. Hold the position for one second as you flex your biceps and lower the jug back to the starting position as you inhale.
Switch hands after doing 8 to 12 repetitions. You should only move your forearm, otherwise the exercise will be poorly executed.
Own weight arm exercises
- Leg biceps: You’ll need a chair, couch, or bench. Sit down, take your right hand under your left thigh and hold it above the back of your knee. Lift your legs as high as you can without using any leg muscles. Don’t help the biceps.
Switch arms and legs after doing 8 to 12 reps.
- Pull-ups: hold a bar, such as a children’s swing bar or similar, with your palms facing you and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure your hands are in front of you to work your biceps, otherwise you will be working your back muscles.
Pull on the bar to lift your body weight until your face reaches the level of your hands. Avoid swaying while doing push-ups and try to keep your feet together. Then, lower slowly but without fully extending both arms. They should be slightly bent to keep the muscles under tension. Bend your knees so that your feet do not touch the floor.
It will be hard at first, especially if you’ve never even done a pull-up before, but the more you try, the easier it will get.
- Biceps with resistance bands: these are just as, and sometimes more effective than weights, for building bigger muscles.
Hold each end of the band with your arms resting down. Stand on the part of the band that touches the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart. Begin to move your forearms toward your shoulders. Be sure to flex your biceps and pull on the handles of the resistance band until your hands reach your shoulders. Hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds, squeezing hard, and then lower your forearms back to the starting position.
How to get bigger arms for women
Women can also have nice big arms to show off with sleeveless blouses or in well-fitted dresses. Let’s learn in steps how to achieve this goal.
Step 1: work both parts of your arms evenly. The upper part comprises two main muscle groups: the biceps in the front and the triceps in the back.
Combine biceps movements with triceps movements for even arm growth.
Step 2: Close grip dips that keep the arms close to the body are a very effective triceps building exercise that you should learn to do. Plus, you can easily do them at home.
Step 3: add pull-ups to your workout routine. Grab a chin-up bar with a low grip, let your body hang with a straight back and pull it up until your shoulders are in line with your hands.
Step 4: do a triceps-focused exercise, because although dips work this area of the arm, they also encompass the chest and shoulders.
How to do it?
Sit on a weight bench and hold a dumbbell in one hand. Raise your arm overhead so it’s straight and bend your elbow so the weight drops behind your head. Continue until you feel a stretch in your triceps and then lift with force.
Keep your upper arm locked in place; the entire movement should be done at the elbow. Complete all repetitions on one arm. Then switch sides.
Step 5: remain seated but this time with dumbbells in both hands, arms hanging by your sides and palms facing forward. Lift the dumbbells up to your chest with your elbows firmly. Pause for one second while squeezing your biceps; then lower the weights slowly.
Step 6: Train your arms 2 to 3 times per week and complete 2 to 3 sets per exercise.
To build bigger muscles, perform 6 to 12 reps per set with a challenging weight, but one that allows you to do more than the minimum number of reps.
When you begin to master the weight, increase it.
Step 7: Last but not least, increase your calorie intake.
The average woman needs 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day to build bigger arms. Sometimes, even more. Your diet should have protein, fat and carbohydrates. Try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, get 30% of your calories from fat and make up the rest with carbohydrates.
Exercises to increase arms
Numerous exercises are known to be part of effective routines for bigger arms. Let’s get to know those exercises in two complete workouts.
- Close Grip Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 4-6 reps.
- Triceps Overhead Cable Rope Triceps Extension: 2 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Triceps Pushdown: 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
- Barbell Curl: 3 sets of 4-6 repetitions.
- Alternating dumbbell biceps curl: 2 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
- Standing Biceps Cable Curl: 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
- Palms-up barbell wrist curls on a bench: 5 sets of 25 repetitions.
- Close Grip Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
- Cross-body hammer curl: 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Preacher Curl Machine: 2 sets of 15 reps.
- Decline EZ Bar triceps extension: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
- Low cable triceps extension: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Reverse grip triceps pushdown: 3 sets of 15 reps.
- Pinch Plate: 5 sets of 50 repetitions.