I don’t think I have ever heard a guy say he didn’t want bigger arms.


Not only do they look good, but when it comes to boosting your big lifts like bench, overhead press or deadlift, arm strength is essential.


With that in mind, achieving pythons for arms is not an easy challenge. Yes, there is a good amount of blood flow in this area which does make it easier than other systems such as the back, but with smaller muscles, it is important to take note of volume so we can avoid injury.


Whenever we start to be specific and build our strength in a certain aspect of our body I always try to view it from a two-sided coin.


On one side you have maximal strength – or the ability to lift as much weight as possible. On the other side, we have structural integrity – which can help to limit injury and maintain a high volume of training week by week.


Before we get into the bread and butter of arm training lets walk through some brief anatomy.


Arm Anatomy

For the purposes of this guide, we are only going to be focussing on the main muscles that act in flexion/extension at the elbow and some support for flexion at the shoulder. This leaves us with three main muscles; biceps, triceps and the brachioradialis.


Biceps Anatomy and Function

This two-headed muscle is primarily responsible for flexion at the elbow. Very strong and thick muscles, the biceps can undergo a relative amount of volume but are not anaerobic muscles.


The two heads are broken down as the long head, and the short head – both of which are important in flexion at the elbow, but also flexion at the shoulder.


The main point to consider for training purposes is that the biceps originates on various parts of the scapula (shoulder blade), not the humerus.


Triceps Anatomy and Function

Anatomy Of Triceps The 9 Best Tricep Workout – boora.info

Three-headed powerhouse muscle. The triceps is a very explosive set of muscles that work in extension at the elbow. Similar to the biceps, the triceps becomes complicated due to their origins.


The long head of the triceps actually attaches on the scapula, which is why doing overhead presses will always be more effective than cable pulldowns.


Brachioradialis Anatomy and Function

A muscle that you may not have considered when it comes to arm size and strength, but is crucial for structural integrity and balance in the arms. The brachioradialis is a muscle primarily responsible for supination and pronation but also assists in flexion at the elbow.

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This muscle crosses the elbow joint which makes it tricky to train. In the world of powerlifting, a strong brachioradialis means a strong lift and an arm that has many benefits over detriments.


Training Principles – Arm Size and Strength

Building larger arms is a process that takes time and dedication. With proper training, you can avoid injury, increase gross motor strength and even boost some of your bigger lifts.


Here are three aspects of arm training you should consider for growth:


1. Slow Biceps Contractions

The biceps is not an explosive system. Whenever you train the biceps I would consider training with very low rep tempo. By this, I mean somewhere in the realm of 5-6seconds of total contraction time.


Example: training with an exercise like concentrated curls you could train with a 4120 rep tempo. At this speed, there should be no reason to have reps higher than 8 and no more sets than 4. The intensity at this tempo will be difficult enough without a high volume.


2. Volume Can Work

Volume training, as popularized by the late Charles Poliquin can be an effective way to induce growth of this muscle tissue. The important aspect to consider is that you need to have the muscle density in order to influence growth. If you’re new to weight training, volume training may not have as many benefits as traditional tempo speeds with strength sets like 8×3 or 6×4.


3. Triceps Like Power Training

This will 100% be dependent on the athlete. Obviously, no stimuli will be the same for every person, yet I have seen that most people respond well to power training on the triceps muscles.


Simple exercises like explosive med ball presses, heavy bench and heavy dips (at low reps) will have massive effects on muscle hypertrophy – especially in the triceps.


Best Exercises for Arm Size and Strength

Now that we know a couple of ways to boost arm strength lets pair it up with exercises that fit our demands.


Take a look at the best exercises for boosting ar strength and size:


Biceps: Spider Curls

Hands down my favourite exercise for developing stronger biceps. This exercise will almost virtually remove shoulder flexion as an option for the muscle, making you focus on flexion at the elbow.

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Great exercise when it comes to building strength, but it is not very specific to an actual sports scenario or strength scenario since the variable are virtually unchanging.


Biceps: Neutral-Grip Pull-ups with Pause

Building arm strength has never been so taxing. In this exercise, you will start at a dead hang, pull to a 90-degree arm angle, hold for one second and then finish the range of motion only to repeat this process.


The goal here is to train out any weakness at a specific range of motion.


This exercise will strengthen all the muscles involved in flexion and supination – while targetting the big muscles of the back.


Triceps: California Press


I’ve linked this exercise to a video because it is quite difficult to explain or show in a picture.


This is an exercise I use almost 2x a week to build strength and power in the triceps. It is great for finishing a workout but can also be a great way to overload the muscle before a heavy benching session.


Try to keep your reps in the 8-12 range and complete no more than 3 sets – there is a large amount of stress on the elbow through this exercise.


Triceps: Diamond Push-ups

Yep, we’re going back to body weight. For real though, diamond push ups are one of the best exercises for developing stronger arms and will have obvious clear on your bench press.

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There’s no need to use this exercise with high reps – there is very little benefit to your strength in this way. Instead, use a difficult rep speed – something like 31X1. This will help to keep your movement strong and specific to building strength in other lifts.


Arm Strength: Recovery and Programming


The last aspect you should consider is the number of days you should spend on the arms. I would argue that almost every exercise will require you to use arms – so when it comes to training specific on this system the volume should be kept to under 20 sets per week.


Programming Tips:


1. Pair Arms With Legs

Most leg session won’t use very much specific tension around the elbow joint.


Pairing up an easy workout with about 6-8 sets of flexion/extension exercises can help to keep relative stress on the system without overtraining.


2. Split Your Workouts Into Push/Pull

Using a push/pull program is nothing new – but in my mind, it is one of the easier ways to target the arms without overload.


Here you can push some flexion exercises in on your push days and extension exercises on your pull days.


This way you will help to train your body to lift heavy and be able to handle a higher volume without breaking down in form.


Don’t Forget About Stability And Control

The last thing to consider is your elbow stability. We talked earlier about avoidance of injury and this is still important. Using exercises that help to train strength and stability will allow you to train with higher loads and higher volume without injury.


For expert programming and guidance tailored to your specific sport be sure to check out our custom strength programs. I personally build your program based on your sport, goals and values in fitness.


Enjoy the gains,