Looking to fill out your shirt sleeves and get those arms bigger? Development using arm exercises is generally through isolation on these smaller muscle groups, but compound movements help the process as well. Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises to help grow your arms.
Two hand curls are pretty commonly performed, but the issue many tend to face is improper control during the movement. Simply going through the movement and feeling the burn works if you're just starting out, but then suddenly you stop seeing any progress.
Controlling the movement helps isolate your muscles better, which causes muscular growth to start occurring again with a change in the stimulus. A tempo simply means counting the time to control the movement.
For example, a 3-second tempo during the eccentric phase is executing the curl and squeezing your biceps. Then as you lower the bar back down you control it taking 3 seconds before the bar is fully lowered.
I prefer using the ez-bar simply because it takes pressure off of your wrists better than with a straight bar, but if you only have a straight bar, it'll still work just as well for arm development.
Double Hammer Curls
Hammer curls work the long head of your biceps, which is the biggest of the two. If you want your arms to appear bigger, then you need to not only perform curls with palms facing up (supinated).
Double hammer curls make it more challenging by requiring constant control with little help from your back muscles. Single hammer curls people tend to lean back and assist with the movement. We want to minimize this and focus solely on the arms.
You need to lower the weight some if one arm is struggling to keep up with the dominant side. Never do more than what the weaker arm can handle. This will create a constant chase for it to catch up with the stronger arm.
Single Arm Preacher Curls with Rotation
Preacher curls are pretty solid for developing bigger arms, but changing up your routine as you advance in training is necessary. This movement increases the amount of contraction placed on both bicep heads as opposed to mainly just isolating the smaller head.
You execute this movement by performing the normal preacher curl, and then when at the top while squeezing the biceps, you rotate your wrist from the left and then to the right before lowering down.
You will notice that the biceps head moves from a rounded position to elongate. You get an even better arm pump by controlling the dumbbell down and feeling it in the triceps.
Underhand Bent Barbell Rows
Also referred to as supinated bent rows for the grip position. Developing your arms doesn’t mean you have to just isolate with arm exercises only. Focusing on larger muscle groups is the best way to develop fully.
Executing rows with this hand grip fully uses your biceps during the pulls. The constant grip also draws a lot more blood flow to your arms due to the amount of squeezing required to not drop the bar.
All pulling exercises with an underhand grip work just as well. This includes underhand lat pulldowns and seated cable rows with an EZ-bar.
Cable Triceps Rope Pull Down
This isn't a particularly unique exercise, but the basics do usually help. The best way to perform these, for starters, is holding the rope an inch or two above the knot found on most of these attachments.
Having your palms not rest against the not requires you to grip harder, which squeezes your arms into contracting better. Secondly, you get more triceps isolation when you rotate your hands down and out as opposed to just pushing straight down.
EZ-Bar Skull Crushers to Close Grip Bench Press
This is a superset for your triceps, which is basically going from one exercise to another with little to no rest. The skull crusher is already great for targeting your triceps and giving them a nice stretch into contraction, and then the close hand press hits them even harder performing the reps right after.
Transitioning from one exercise to another shouldn’t require your hands to be moved. Keeping a constant grip throughout the entire superset adds better isolation plus improves your grip strength.
Barbell Reverse Curls
Developing your forearms is needed if you want your arms to grow. Honestly, it would look slightly odd to have larger upper arms with weak looking forearms. This exercise helps eliminate that while also targeting your upper arms in a different way.
Reverse curls primarily work your lower arms including your brachialis, which is a muscle that goes underneath your biceps. The best way to target your forearms better is by allowing your wrists to bend during the curl.
However, if they are weak then this may cause uncomfortable pain. Simply keep your wrists straight if this applies to you, and allow them to get stronger prior to bending them.
The dip is a compound exercise that works the larger upper body muscle groups. However, your triceps are definitely going to get plenty of effort placed on them. Those with weaker triceps and pecs have a significantly harder time performing this movement for reps.
Staying slightly more upright with less forward lean will place better isolation on your triceps. Keep in mind doing this also causes more pressure on your shoulders.
Incline Dumbbell Curls
Being in the incline position causes your elbows to go behind the back as you lay back against the bench. Studies show your biceps get utilized significantly more when in this position compared to regular curls.
Controlling the dumbbells down while on an incline also requires the use of your triceps through a longer duration, which makes this movement great for targeting the entire arm. Try performing them with both hands simultaneously and see how much harder it is.
Close Hand Incline Bench Press
Utilizing the incline bench again, you will be performing a close hand bench press. This position causes your triceps to work harder on the incline with not as much support coming from your chest or shoulders.
Taking your feet off the floor makes the movement isolate the triceps more and engages your core better for stability.
Try These Out During Your Next Arm Day!
None of these exercises require a lot of technique to execute, but concentration to focus on muscular contraction and control is what makes them difficult. Use them to replace a few of the exercises you already perform for your workouts, and switch exercises every 4-6 weeks to target slightly different areas!