It’s no secret that every serious lifter out there desires an impressive pair of strong, muscular arms. Who wouldn’t be happy with tall, peaking biceps sitting on top of rock-hard, horse-shoe-shaped triceps? Who wouldn’t love to have a pair of ripped, well-developed guns forcefully bursting through the sleeves of their shirt? While developing muscular arms is usually at the top of many peoples’ agenda, the reality is that the majority of lifters out there have a very poor understanding of how to properly train their arms for maximum gains. In order to gain the proper insight into effectively stimulating arm growth, we must first recognize three basic truths:
1) Relatively speaking, the biceps and triceps are small muscle groups.
2) The biceps receive heavy stimulation during all basic pulling movements for the back.
3) The triceps receive heavy stimulation during all basic pressing movements for the chest and shoulders.
What do these 3 points tell us about effective arm training? The most important thing for you to realize is this:
For maximum gains in muscle size and strength, the biceps and triceps require only a very small amount of direct stimulation!
So why is it that every time I enter the gym I see the same misinformed people, week in and week out, slaving away on endless sets of bicep curls and tricep extensions?
It’s very important to understand that the biceps and triceps receive a very large amount of stimulation from all of your chest and back training. In fact, a lot of the time when you reach muscular failure on a chest or back movement, it is actually your biceps or triceps that give out first! Couple this with the fact that your biceps and triceps are already small muscle groups to begin with and it becomes quite clear that direct arm training is of minor importance.
Remember, your muscles do not grow in the gym. The work that you accomplish as you train with weights is merely the “spark” that sets the wheels of the muscle growth process into motion. The real magic takes place out of the gym while you are resting and eating, as this is the time when your body will actually be synthesizing new muscle tissue. Because of this, it is vital that you do not overtrain your muscles. You must always make sure to provide them with sufficient recovery time if you want to see impressive results. Overtraining can actually make your muscles smaller and weaker.
If you’re looking to achieve serious arm growth, you must stop placing so much emphasis on direct arm movements. Forget about performing endless sets of concentration curls and tricep pressdowns. Strong, muscular arms are mostly a product of heavy chest and back training. If you are able to accept this basic truth and place the majority of your focus on building up the muscle size and strength in your major muscle groups, you will prevent yourself from overtraining your arms and will therefore yield greater overall gains in bicep and tricep size.
This is not to say that no direct arm training is necessary, just not very much. Here is a sample arm routine that you can use as a part of your program:
Barbell Curls – 2 sets of 5-7 reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls – 1 set of 5-7 reps
Close-Grip Bench Press – 2 sets of 5-7 reps
Standing Cable Pushdowns – 1 set of 5-7 reps
Take all sets to complete muscular failure and focus on progressing each week by using slightly more weight or performing an extra rep or 2.
If you can incorporate this way of thinking into your arm training, you will achieve arm size beyond anything you previously thought possible!
By Sean Nalewanyj, a bodybuilding expert and writer of top-selling Bodybuilding E-Book: The Truth About Building Muscle