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How To Get Big Arms?

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Young man exercising in gym, using dumbbell, mid section, close-up
Michelangelo Gratton/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Question: How To Get Big Arms?
Next to abs, the question on how to get big arms seems to be the second most frequently asked one. In this Q&A, I hope to answer how to win the arms race.
Answer: Getting big arms quickly is a combination of factors such as how well periodized your routines are, how good is your form, how good is your nutrition program, etc. To answer your question, there are a few pointers that I can recommend for fast muscle growth:

  1. Concentrate on basic movements. When training the biceps use exercises like E-Z Curls, Preacher Curls, Incline Curls, Lying Cable Curls (use overhead pulley and lie down on a bench), Reverse E-Z Curls (standing and on preacher bench), Hammer Curls and even Biceps Chins, which are performed by using a narrow underhand grip on the chin-up bar. For the Triceps, concentrate on Parallel Bar Dips, Close Grip Bench Presses, Lying E-Z Triceps Extensions (preferably on a decline bench for better effect), Overhead Extensions and Triceps Pushdowns with a bar or rope. These are all great exercises.

  2. Follow a periodized routine and change your exercise selection often. In my training experience, the biggest mistake I see most people do is following the same routine all of the time. In all of my publications, I always talk about the importance of training variety in order to continually challenge the body and continue to induce gains. The more advanced you become as a bodybuilder, the more crucial this is. Since I’ve been at this for 15 years now, I change my routines every time I hit the gym! Just so that I don’t feel like I left you hanging, the program below will work well for gaining more arm size:

    QUICK ARM GAINS ROUTINE #1:

    NOTES: If you are a naturally skinny person (a hardgainer who always has abs regardless of diet), then perform only once a week for 5 weeks before moving to routine #2. Otherwise, use a training frequency of twice a week leaving 2 or 3 days of rest in between and perform for 3 weeks before moving to routine #2).

    Superset: Preacher Curls 10 sets of 10 reps (no rest)
    Triceps Dips 10 sets of 10 reps (1 minute rest)

    Superset: Hammer Curls 2 sets of 12-15 reps (no rest)
    Triceps Pushdowns 2 sets of 12-15 reps (1 minute rest)

    QUICK ARM GAINS ROUTINE #2:

    NOTES: If you are a naturally skinny person (a hardgainer who always has abs regardless of diet), then perform only once a week for 5 weeks. Otherwise, use a training frequency of twice a week leaving 2 or 3 days of rest in between and perform for 3 weeks before moving to another routine).

    Modified Compound Superset:
    Biceps Chin-Ups 8 sets of 6-8 reps (90 second rest)
    Close Grip Bench Press 8 sets of 6-8 reps (90 second rest)

    Modified Compound Superset:
    Incline Curls followed by Incline Hammers with the same weight once you hit failure 3 sets of 10-12 reps (90 second rest)
    Lying Triceps Extensions 3 sets of 10-12 reps (90 second rest)

    NOTES: In a Modified Compound Superset, you first perform one exercise, rest the recommended amount of seconds and then perform the second exercise (i.e.: For instance, first do Biceps, then do Triceps). Then rest the prescribed amount of time again and go back to the first exercise. A modified superset for Incline Curls and Lying Triceps Extensions in which you perform 3 sets of each exercise will look like the following:

    Incline Curls 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    Lying Triceps Extensions 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    Incline Curls 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    Lying Triceps Extensions 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    Incline Curls 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    Lying Triceps Extensions 1 set of 10-12 reps
    Rest 90 seconds
    End of modified superset

    If you look at it, you will be resting 3 minutes plus the amount of time that it takes you to perform the other exercise (so you actually are resting a given muscle between 3 and 4 minutes). Using this technique of pairing exercises in a modified superset fashion not only saves time and keeps the body warm, but it also allows for faster recovery of the nervous system between sets. This allows you to lift heavier weights than if you just stay idle for 3 minutes waiting to recover.

  3. Remember that nutrition is key for gains. If you have an average metabolism, multiply your bodyweight times 15 to gain muscle size and use a macronutrient ratio of 40% carbs, 40% proteins, and 20% fats. If you are a hardgainer, then multiply your bodyweight by 24 and use a nutrient split of 50% carbs (even split of simple and complex), 25% proteins, and 25% good fats. Also, whether a hardgainer or average gainer, remember to have a post workout protein shake with simple carbs to spike insulin levels and induce anabolism (growth).

  4. Use perfect form when executing arm exercises. Utilizing less than perfect form will result in the utilization of other muscles in the body, thus taking away from arm stimulation. You need to concentrate and feel the biceps and triceps contract as you work them. Forget about using super heavy weights and jerking the weight. Practice perfect form and think isolation at all times.
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How to Get Bigger Arms

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