Nearly every aspiring bodybuilder has getting bigger arm muscles as a major priority on his or her agenda. Arms are such a prominently displayed body part. When they’re packed with rippling muscle, they exhibit upper body power like nothing else. No wonder they’re nicknamed “guns”; at a primal level, that’s what they are. When they’re big and strong, they tell the world for their owner: “Hey, I can handle myself.”
So the big question is: “How do you get bigger arm muscles?” If you’re having trouble building your arms – how can you make them grow? If you’ve hit an arm building plateau, how do you get that tissue expanding again?
Back in the ‘80s, a guy named Bill Davis published a book called ‘Brutally Huge’. In it, he clearly explained that most people get lackluster results from bodybuilding because of overtraining. He then coined the word “under-training” to describe what they should be contrastively doing in order to start gaining again.
I think his wisdom has never been more appropriate than in the context of ‘how to get bigger arm muscles’. Many people over-train their arms. As if unaware of their use as supporting muscles when training other upper body parts, they blast their arms with too many sets and exercises while providing them inadequate recuperation time between workouts.
This is an easy error to make. It’s natural to think that we need to work something more often and more intensely to get our desired results. It’s counter-intuitive to think we need to back off to obtain those results. Yet “back off” is often what we need to do – especially when it comes to building size and power on those overworked limbs hanging at our sides.
Remember that your triceps constitute two-thirds of your upper arm size. This means you need to train them effectively while avoiding overtraining in order to maximize arm size. Building big triceps is especially helpful in bringing on the effect of “big hanging arms”. These are arms that look big while just hanging relaxed at your sides.
Recently, I’ve gotten big increases in arm growth by doing what I call ‘split-rep exercises’. This simply means splitting a full range exercise, like an arm curl, into three 1/3-range exercises. So I’ll do sets of Preacher Curls from the nearly locked out bottom position to about one-third of the way up.
Then I might do standing barbell curls at just the middle one-third range of the exercise.
Finally, I’ll do the peaking one-third by lying on a bench with a bar right above my head. With the bar connected to the pulley/stack that’s right behind my head, I’ll do those final one-third movements from about the two-thirds of the way up position to the point that the bar is hitting my neck.
This puts constant tension on my biceps and has accelerated their development.
The same type of thing can be done with your triceps.