When you first start training you can really do anything and you will build muscle. The “newbie” gains.
Unfortunately at some point this dies down and you must get a little more focused with your training and how you go about it.
What’s even worse, is that you must continue to work hard and you see less results. This is where a lot of people quit, but you must push through and be ok with more work but less gains in return.
Genetics also play a massive role in how fast you can build muscle, but also in terms of which muscle groups grow and which ones are more stubborn.
Maybe you have been training for a while and you found out your arms aren’t growing like you wish, but you want bigger arms. Lets be honest, who doesnt want bigger arms?
The first picture is of me back when I was 20 just starting to workout, I had already gotten some of my newbie gains at this point. But with consistency and hard work, the second pic is of me a few months ago.
While your “newbie” gains may be long gone, the good news is that there are some things you can do to help bring up your arms if they are lagging.
So here are some science-based tips to help you grow your arms:
Increase your arm volume.
Count up how many sets of biceps and triceps you do per week and then add a few to that.
You count it up and you are doing 12 sets of triceps and 10 sets of biceps currently. Increase to 13-15 sets of triceps or 11-13 sets of biceps. Studies have shown that increasing volume can increase muscle growth.
Be careful to not over do it though. Doing too much volume can eventually cause diminishing returns. Read this blog here to see how many sets you should be doing per workout.
With online clients who are looking to grow their arms, we simply increase how much they train them. You can do this by either adding more sets to an exercise, or adding a new exercise in.
Increase how often you train your arms.
Maybe you only do one day of arm work currently. Look at splitting up your total sets for the week into 2-4 sessions per week. This allows your arms to be fresher when you train them and can lead to more muscle growth. Avoid doing more than 12 sets for one muscle group in one workout.
Many people fall into the trap of thinking they can only train a body part with certain muscle groups or they can only train them 1-2 times per week. For example, if you want to grow your arms and have been training them two times per week with back, look at throwing in some arms with your legs.
Avoid falling into the trap of thinking you can only train certain muscle groups with each other. Your body doesn’t care.
If you want something to grow, its a good idea to do it more and more often.
Train them first.
Muscles that get worked first in the session tend to grow more muscle than those trained later in a session, because they are fresh. If your arms are a priority train them first.
Most programs you look at will have arms at the end of the session.
On paper it makes sense, they are a smaller muscle group and we are told that we need to train compound movements and bigger muscle groups first. This is also a solid recommendation as a generality for most people, especially if they haven’t a followed a program before.
But if you want your arms to grow it makes sense to prioritize them.
Work through multiple rep ranges.
Another myth is that if you want to grow muscle you must work in the 8-12 rep range. While there is some truth to this, you can build muscle anywhere from 5-30 reps.
When you look over someone’s program they usually have the majority of their training in one rep range.
If this is the case, look to switch it up.
It could be that your arms respond better to a different rep range.
Remember, you can build muscle in a large rep range (5-30). So vary the rep ranges you work in. Don’t be married to one rep range.
Take a low volume period.
Sometimes more is not always the answer.
Maybe you have been training your arms a ton lately. It might be a good idea to take a short 4-6 week period where you do less.
For example, you were doing 20 sets per week, and during this time you do 8 sets per week for your biceps.
In a recent podcast episode, me and Steve Hall discuss taking a low volume training period and why it can be beneficial. Listen here.
Another scenario where more might not be better.
A lot of times guys have poor technique and they are stressing other muscle groups/joints more than their biceps or triceps muscles.
This usually comes from trying to do too much weight.
Make sure you are focused on good technique with a full range of motion rather than just trying to add more weight.
Don’t neglect your side/ rear delts.
Again, maybe doing more bicep and triceps might not be the answer.
Some people get so focused on building their arms that they neglect their shoulders.
Not to mention, most people choose poor exercises to grow their shoulders. A double whammy.
Your delts can make a huge difference in making your arms look bigger. Do exercises like lateral raises, facepulls, and uprights rows to grow your delts.
Here are my favorite bicep, tricep, and delt exercises for myself and online clients.
- Dumbell bicep curl
- Ez curl bar
- Straight bar curl
- Cable bicep curls
- Incline dumbbell bicep curls
- Spider curls
- Sated bicep curls
- Skull crushers
- Close grip bench
- Tricep rope pushdown
- JM Press
- Dumbbell lateral raises
- Cable lateral raises
- Lateral raise machine
- Upright rows
- Rear Delt Flys
There you have it, pick a few things from here to work on, stay consistent with it and see what happens. The biggest mistake people make with fitness and nutrition is not sticking with things long enough to see what is and isn’t working.
If you need more structure and guidance with training and nutrition fill out the application here and lets get to work.