This article is going to be odd, seeing how it comes from a guy with arms the size of…wait for it…Pee Wee Herman on a diet. Still, I can only work with what I got and what I got is the genetics of a beetle. The information and ideas are still good and will work for you, unless your initials are PWH. In which case, sorry but keep trying.
First and foremost, I think to build big arms, you have to think about building a big, strong body. That should go without saying, yet it always needs to be said. Folks are forever prioritizing and focusing on big biceps with mountainous peaks. The truth for most of us is that decent sized, good looking arms will come, as the overall body gets bigger and stronger.
I always use the adjective stronger because that should be the measure of progress for most of us. Yes, it is beautiful to be able to flash those 6 pack abs and ripped Pecs, but what matters more is that we get stronger and healthier as the end result. Perhaps that the bias of someone who has had to fight for every ounce of muscle (I define hard gainer). I measured my progress by how much more I could press overhead than what my measurements were.
And for me that is real life. Real life is being strong. It is in moving the furniture for your wife without throwing out your back, not walking around with a permanent flex.
Still, walking around with a pair of ham hocks hanging out from your polo shirt, that is stretched across your door-wide shoulders is pretty cool. I get that. Now let me help you get that.
Being no rocket scientist, I just need to keep it simple. Your arm consists of the triceps, biceps, and forearm. Why is it called those names, look it up on the web. Again keeping it simple, the biceps are on the front of the upper arm with the triceps on the back of the upper arm. The forearm group is your whole lower arm.
The biceps brachii is the smaller of the two upper arm groups and has basically two functions. It rotates the forearm and flexes the arm to the shoulder. The triceps brachii is almost two-thirds the volume of your upper arm. Its principal function is to extend the arm.
The first key to getting big arms is to get strong. The second key is to build the muscle that is bigger, obvious again, right. It is the triceps that will dictate the size of your arms, not the biceps. More to the point, the ham hocks hanging from your shoulders, as you walk along the boardwalk, is all triceps. I mean really, how often do you walk around doing a biceps pose?
In building the muscle, all the weight training principles stay the same. Heavy weight using compound movements stimulates the most muscle growth. You must rest and give the muscle enough time to recuperate, and of course, feed it nutrient dense food.
And therein lays the greatest challenge to building big arms. Yes, you need heavy, compound movements. Yet, you will never use weights for triceps extension that can even come close to what you do on the bench press or standing press. By the same token, you will not ever curl as much as you will row. Yet in all those chest, back and shoulder movements; the arms are directly involved.
In fact, some suggest not doing any direct curls or extension.
Well, you do need to do some triceps and biceps work. All pressing movements will blow up your triceps but that movement is based on the elbow moving. Extensions keep the elbow stationary. The same holds true for back movements versus curls. Therefore, you do need to do arm movements that keep the elbow stationary.
So, the third key is to understand the pounding that these smaller muscle groups get when working the torso and not overtraining the arms. After 3 exercises of chest movements and 2 or 3 of shoulder movements, you only need one quality exercise to finish the triceps. As an example, I would suggest the following:
-Incline Dumbbell Press
-Seated Dumbbell Press
-Close Grip Upright Rows
-Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extensions.
For Biceps, I would suggest:
-Wide Grip Pull-ups
-Bent over Rows
-One Arm Dumbbell Rows
-Standing Dumbbell Curls (Together or alternating)
So, there you have it, my three keys to building big arms. I did not discuss forearms, as that is a story for another day.