Most men want bigger arms. The problem is, most men just don’t train for bigger arms the correct way. It sounds simple enough – do a lot of arm exercise. How hard can it be? But there’s the problem – it’s not quite as simple as performing hundreds of bicep curls. There’s far more to building big arms than bicep curls!
There are certain principles when it comes to building muscle. Follow these principles and really quite quickly you’ll be making progress. Take a picture of yourself in front of the mirror every 4 weeks and see how different you look after each one. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can grow when you train properly!
So, without further ado, let me explain the principles to building your arms the fast way…
You Need A High Volume Programme
Muscle building workout programmes have to be high volume. The more frequently muscle is trained, the more it grows. It’s also a case of performing the correct amount of reps. If you want to build muscle, you should be targeting a rep range of 8-15 every set. In some cases, such as leg training, you may even need to push this to 20+ reps.
There are a couple of reasons for this – the first one is because muscle fibre is made up of different tissue types. Some tissues respond better to a very high volume of training and as such your programme needs to reflect that. Muscles such as the shoulders, quadriceps and the calves in particular are capable of a lot of work, so really need to be pushed with a lot of volume.
You should be looking to train 4-6 times per week, with a full body workout each time. Train muscles intensely and frequently. Just make sure you recover properly and try not to train more than 4 days consecutively. A typical training week could look like this…
- Monday: Train
- Tuesday: Train
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Train
- Friday: Train
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Easy workout
To build your arms, train hard and train often – just make sure you allow some time for rest. If you don’t take at least a day or two off from the gym, you’ll never grow. You break muscle down during training and allow it to rebuild during rest. If you never rest, you never rebuild.
Focus On Time Under Tension (TUT)
Time under tension is the amount of time your muscle spends resisting weight. The longer your muscles spend under tension, the more they grow. This kind of work was pioneered decades ago by Arthur Jones and fundamental to the success of the training approach is that the muscles spend a lot of time under tension during the negative (lowering) phase of a lift. When this fast up, slow down tempo is used it’s called a negative rep.
In practice, negatives look like an explosive lift (positive phase) followed by a slow return to the start position. Take a look at the video below for a clearer idea…
By adding negatives into your arm workout, you’ll see strength and muscle gains really quickly. You can use them with any exercise that has a very clear positive and negative phase, which includes almost all direct arm exercises.
You’ve Got To Feed The Muscle Growth
All of the training you do is nothing unless the muscles are supplied with adequate nutrients which will allow them to grow. An adequate amount of protein is the bare minimum – you need carbohydrates to fuel the training required for muscle growth, the vitamins and minerals that maintain health, allowing you to train at a high volume and finally, plenty of water.
Muscle tissue is mostly water, so it’s vital that you maintain a high level of hydration. This not only helps to keep your muscles full, but also improves the general health of the other tissues in the body, all of which will be stressed during the muscle building process – exercise effects connective tissues as well, not just the muscles themselves.
As with all dietary advice, stick to good quality, healthy foods, but just eat more of them. The better the quality of the food you eat, the better you’ll feel generally.
Frequency, Not Just Intensity
A lot of people who are new to training follow an old-fashioned body part split. This basically means they divide the body into muscle groups and train them specifically during the session – the idea being that you train the muscles as hard as possible, then they recover and grow. A typical body part split may look like the following…
- Day 1 – Back and Biceps
- Day 2 – Chest and Triceps
- Day 3 – Legs and Abs
- Day 4 – Shoulders and Arms
The problem with this method is that it lacks the frequency of training of muscle groups. It’s an effective way to train for people with a mature, well-muscled physique. If you’re new to training and want to build serious muscle quickly, it’s not the most effective way. Here’s why…
Imagine you’re trying to add muscle to your chest – using this split, you’re only going to train chest once per week. If you were to do an all-body training programme, where you train all of your body using a mixture of exercises over the same 4 days, you’ll train your chest 4 days per week, rather than one.
Seems obvious, but people still train with a body part split. It baffles me!
All Body Training
If you want bigger arms, the temptation would be to assume that you should just do a lot of arm exercises. The problem with that approach though is that you’re limiting the amount of human growth hormone you’re releasing, because you’re not training the biggest muscles in the body.
In this article on leg training, we talk about why leg training is important because it stimulates a lot of growth hormone release, helping you grow all over your body. Training your legs literally does help your arms grow too!
Even if your goal is to look better on the beach or fill your t-shirts a little better, you’ll make much faster progress by adding squats, pull ups and deadlifts into your training programme alongside the bench press, shoulder press, ab crunches, bicep curls and triceps push downs that most people seem to fill their training programmes with!
Build Your Arms The Fast Way: Concluded
You build your arms by building your body – your physiology won’t allow your arms to grow out of proportion to the rest of you, so before you worry about growing your arms, think about growing muscle all over your body.
Follow the principles outlined in this article…
- Train with high volume – 4 to 6 workouts per week.
- Focus on time under tension – use negatives in your training.
- Feed your muscle growth – but do it with healthy foods.
- Train frequently – intensity is great, but it has to be frequent.
- Remember to train all of your body – you can’t grow out of proportion!
If you need any help with building your arms then you could do a lot worse than follow a professionally designed plan. Speak to a personal trainer in your local area, or even try an online trainer. They send you programmes and offer advice and coaching, but for a fraction of the price of an in-person trainer!
Enjoy your training!