How to Get Bigger Arms - 12 Exercises + Tips for a Huge Pump
The quest for bigger arms is a common goal among fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike. Defined and developed arms not only showcase physical prowess but also offer functional benefits in everyday tasks and various sports. In this article, we'll delve into a series of exercises, tools, and training methods designed specifically to stimulate growth and strength in your arms.
We'll explore exercises that target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders — the three major muscle groups responsible for the size and shape of your arms. These exercises range from classics like dumbbell curls and tricep extensions to less conventional methods like Meadows swings and Z presses. We'll also highlight the importance of including compound lifts in your routine, as these exercises engage multiple muscle groups and promote overall muscular development.
It’s time you learned some new exercises and strategies to get bigger arms faster that come straight from the Peak Strength app. Having fuller and bigger arms as an athlete, you will most likely benefit from having bigger and stronger arms with these exercises that are used to peak elite athletes around the world. Stick around and read further to learn how to get bigger arms.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Best Bicep Exercises
High Cable Bicep Curl
This curl variation is unique, thanks to its reliance on the shoulder's stability to isolate and engage the bicep head. When your shoulder is in a fixed position, it allows your bicep to take on the full load of the exercise, leading to more effective muscle recruitment and development.
The high cable bicep curl is also remarkable in its application of constant tension throughout the movement. The use of a cable provides a continuous load on your muscles, unlike free weights, which have a variable tension depending on the movement phase. This constant tension maximizes muscle activation throughout the entire range of motion, from full extension to peak contraction.
Now, let's dive into the technique behind this bicep-boosting exercise.
Step up to a high pulley machine, grip the cable with your palm facing forward, and ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart for stable ground contact. Start with your arm fully extended and out to the side while gripping the cable. This is your starting position.
As you initiate the curl, breathe out, and slowly contract your bicep, moving your hand towards your shoulder. Your elbow should remain stationary and in line with your shoulder during this movement, ensuring your bicep bears the brunt of the work. Remember, the idea is to isolate the bicep, so avoid using your back or shoulders to help lift the weight.
Hold this peak contraction for a moment to squeeze the bicep muscles and maximize muscle fiber engagement. Then, gradually return to the starting position while inhaling, maintaining tension on the cable throughout the movement.
The high cable bicep curl is a versatile addition to your arm day routine. By placing emphasis on the long head of the bicep, this exercise enhances your arm's shape and size while also improving the appearance of your upper arms when flexed.
A final tip: while the urge to lift heavier may push you to compromise form, remember that proper technique trumps all. Start with a manageable weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout all the biceps exercises. Make sure to choose a weight where you can do 5 sets of 17 to 20 reps for best results.
If you're seeking killer biceps exercises to stretch and strengthen your biceps, the incline curl is your answer. The incline url is known for its ability to maximize the lengthening of the bicep head, which is crucial for overall bicep development and upper arm growth.
The unique advantage of the incline curl lies in the bench angle. The more you lay back, the better the stretch in your bicep, as you're fully extending the bicep muscle. This stretch provides a more significant range of motion than traditional curls, resulting in enhanced muscle activation and growth.
But what makes this stretch so valuable? A full stretch encourages more muscle fiber engagement, leading to more significant muscle damage - a good thing if you’re trying to get bigger arms. This damage is what your body repairs and strengthens during recovery, leading to bigger biceps.
Now, let's discuss the right way to perform the incline curl for optimal results.
Start by setting up an incline bench at around a 45-degree angle. Sit on the bench with your back firmly against the padding and your feet planted on the floor for stability. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length, palms facing up. Ensure your arms hang down straight and fully extended - this is your starting position.
Curl the dumbbells upwards towards your shoulders while keeping your elbows stationary. The only moving parts should be your forearms. Avoid using your shoulders or back to lift the weight; the goal is to isolate the bicep.
Once you've achieved peak contraction at the top of the lift, squeeze your biceps for maximum engagement. Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the entire movement.
Now we are going to get into the realm of classic bodybuilding with the Zottman Curl, an exercise that combines the best of both worlds for bigger biceps and forearms. This old-school move might just be the missing link to your arm workouts for achieving bigger arms.
The Zottman Curl stands out for its unique blend of regular and reverse grip curls. This dual movement targets both the biceps in the concentric phase (lifting phase) and the forearms in the eccentric phase (lowering phase). By switching to a reverse grip during the eccentric phase, you engage the often-overlooked muscles in your forearms, leading to more balanced arm development.
The eccentric phase of any exercise is where most muscle damage (and thus growth potential) occurs. By focusing on this phase with the forearms in the Zottman Curl, you can effectively stimulate growth in this area while still maintaining bicep engagement.
Let's break down the technique for this all-encompassing arm exercise:
Start by standing upright with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended, and palms facing your torso. Then curl the weights while rotating your wrists so that your palms face you at the top of the movement. At this point, your biceps should be fully contracted, and the dumbbells should be at shoulder level.
One ready to lower the weight, rotate your wrists again, this time so that your palms face outwards. Maintaining this grip, slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while breathing in. This reverse grip eccentric phase is where your forearms come into play, controlling the weight as it lowers.
Remember, control is key in the Zottman Curl. The slower and more controlled the movement, the more tension and engagement in your biceps and forearms, leading to more effective growth stimulation.
Let's roll into the fourth exercise in our quest for bigger arms - the Forearm Roller. This unique exercise utilizes a simple setup, often a PVC or metal pipe with a rope and weight attached, to deliver a potent and challenging workout for your forearms and biceps.
The Forearm Roller is a game-changer for targeting grip strength and forearm development. Regular use of this tool will not only bulk up your forearms but also significantly improve your grip control, a critical component in many exercises and sports.
Why is grip control so crucial? A strong grip allows you to hold heavier weights, maintain better control during movements, and increase your overall lifting capability. Additionally, in sports like climbing or martial arts, a powerful grip can be the difference between success and failure.
Now, let's unravel the technique behind the Forearm Roller.
Stand on an elevated surface like a box or step to allow the weight to move freely. Hold the roller with both hands, palms down, and arms extended in front of you at chest level. Ensure the rope is fully wound around the roller with the weight at the top. This is your starting position.
Gradually unroll the rope to lower the weight by rotating your wrists in a controlled manner. Keep your arms and the roller at chest level throughout the movement. Once the weight reaches the bottom, it's time to roll it back up.
To do this, rotate your wrists in the opposite direction, winding the rope back onto the roller. Keep the movement slow and controlled to maintain tension in the forearms. You don’t need to go crazy with the weight here. Although, if you want to increase the load, you can always move your hand placement to in front of your hips instead of having your arms straight.
Best Tricep Exercises
Overhead Neutral Grip Tricep Extension
The triceps, in fact, make up about two-thirds of your upper arm mass. Enter the overhead neutral grip tricep extension, an exceptional exercise that targets both the triceps and shoulders for well-rounded arm development.
This tricep-centric exercise, performed either standing or seated, utilizes dumbbells and a neutral grip to engage your triceps and shoulders effectively. The overhead position puts your triceps under constant tension, enhancing muscle activation and promoting growth. Plus, the neutral grip encourages shoulder stability, adding an extra layer of challenge to this exercise.
Let's break down the technique for this power-packed exercise:
Begin either standing with your feet hip-width apart or seated with a straight back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms overhead, and align the dumbbells directly above your shoulders. Keep your palms facing each other in a neutral grip. This is your starting position.
Keeping your upper arms still, lower the dumbbells behind your head by bending your elbows. Your elbows should stay close to your head to maintain tension in the triceps. Lower until your elbows form about a 90-degree angle, ensuring a good stretch in your triceps.
Then extend your elbows to lift the dumbbells back to the starting position, squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement.
Remember, it's all about control with the overhead neutral grip tricep extension. Keeping your movements slow and steady will ensure maximum muscle engagement and prevent unnecessary strain.
One of the many staple arm exercises here at Garage Strength is the miracle gro. The miracle gro is one of our favorite upper body exercises that leads to a killer pump. This exercise is going to stretch out your lats, biceps, and triceps.
When you first do these triceps exercises, it might be reminiscent of a dumbbell pullover, which it is in a sense. Often these pullovers will be used for the lats and chest. This one is going to focus on your lats and especially triceps.
Start with your upper back on a bench long ways so that your shoulders are running along the long bench pad. Then raise your body up so that you are in a table top position and your upper beach is leaning on the bench.
To start a miracle gro, take the dumbbell and push it up and above your head. Your face should be staring right at the bottom of the dumbbell. Then extend the dumbbell behind your head and don’t be afraid to arch your back to deepen the stretch.
You want to lengthen the lats and triceps as much as possible, so you can let your elbow bend once the dumbbell is completely behind you. Once you’ve fully lengthened, pull the dumbbell back over your head and use the triceps to extend the weight back to the starting position.
This is one of our favorite arm exercises for stimulating muscle growth and arm training. Do this for 5 sets of 10-12 to get absolutely swole in the weight room.
Banded Lean Away Extension
The journey to bigger arms continues, and our seventh stop is the banded lean away extension. This tricep exercise harnesses the power of powerlastic bands to provide a flexible and effective alternative to cable systems.
Performing these triceps exercises standing and in large reps, you'll target the triceps intensely, similar to using a cable system. The elastic band offers consistent tension throughout the movement, keeping your muscles engaged for longer. This sustained tension can stimulate muscle growth, making it an excellent tool for bigger arms.
Let's delve into the technique for the banded lean away extension:
Begin by securing your powerlastic band to a solid anchor point at about waist height. Stand facing away from the anchor point, holding the other end of the band with one hand. Extend your arm overhead, keeping your elbow close to your ear. Lean away from the anchor point to create tension in the band. This is your starting position.
Bend your elbow to lower the band behind your head, maintaining tension in the band throughout the movement. Keep your upper arm stationary and your elbow close to your ear.
Then tend your elbow, pulling the band back to the starting position. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement for maximum muscle engagement.
The banded lean away extension is a high-rep exercise, so aim for high volume sets. Start with a band with manageable resistance, focusing on maintaining constant tension and perfecting your form. As your strength improves, you can increase the resistance or reps to continue challenging your muscles.
Close Grip Bench Press
The road to bigger arms doesn't end with arm isolation exercises. Compound exercises, like our eighth exercise, the close grip bench press, can supercharge your tricep and shoulder size by engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
The close grip bench press, done with a barbell on either a flat or incline bench, is a powerful exercise for building both strength and size. It primarily targets the triceps, but also heavily engages the shoulders and chest, providing a full upper body workout. The ability to handle a heavier load than most arm isolation exercises makes it particularly effective for increasing absolute strength and stimulating muscle growth.
Let's dive into the technique behind the close grip bench press:
Lay flat on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Grip the barbell with your hands a full hand length closer than your normal flat bench grip. This should be right about shoulder width apart. The narrower grip will place more emphasis on the triceps without straining the wrists. Lift the bar off the rack and hold it straight over your chest. This is your starting position.
Slowly lower the barbell to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body to maximize tricep engagement. Be mindful not to let your elbows flare out as this can shift the focus away from the triceps and onto the shoulders and chest.
Then push the barbell back to the starting position, fully extending your arms and squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement. Since this is a compound exercise, you don’t want to go crazy with the volume here. Do 4 sets of 4-6 reps to get stronger and grow your upper arms.
Best Shoulder Exercises
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
We arrive at the ninth exercise in our arsenal, which starts off the best shoulder exercises for bigger arms, the seated dumbbell overhead press. This compound movement is instrumental in building strength and size in your shoulders and triceps.
Using dumbbells instead of a barbell allows for a more individualized range of motion, which can be especially beneficial for those with limited shoulder mobility. The seated dumbbell overhead press also engages your core, providing a comprehensive upper body workout.
Now, let's delve into the technique behind this powerful exercise:
Start by sitting on a bench with a back support, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells up to shoulder height, elbows bent, and palms facing forward. This is your starting position.
Push the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended, and lock out your elbows. Keep the movement controlled, ensuring the dumbbells remain balanced in your hands.Then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control and keeping tension in your shoulders and triceps.
This is a great compound movement to engage other muscles in the upper body and establish good levels of stability. Do 4 sets of 9-12 reps for increased hypertrophy over time.
The tenth entry on our list to bigger, stronger arms brings us to the Meadows swings. This unique shoulder exercise, performed with dumbbells, is an exceptional isolation movement for the rear and lateral deltoids. It stems from the genius of famous strength and fitness icon, John Meadows.
Unlike a full lateral raise, the Meadows swing restricts the range of motion to the first quarter of a full raise. This is where the highest motor unit recruitment and muscle engagement occur, leading to more effective and safer muscle development.
Now, let's explore the technique behind the Meadows swings:
Start by standing with a dumbbell in each hand, your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing each other. This is your starting position.
Initiate the movement by raising your arms laterally, keeping your elbows and hands moving together in a controlled manner. Stop the upward motion when your arms are at a 30-degree angle, or about a quarter of the way up of a full lateral raise.
Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your sides, maintaining the tension in your deltoids throughout the movement.
By focusing on this specific range of motion, Meadows swings effectively target the deltoids without the potential pain and injury risks associated with full-range lateral raises. This makes them an excellent option for individuals with shoulder mobility issues or previous injuries. Incorporating Meadows swings into your routine can lead to well-rounded shoulder development, complimenting your overall arm growth.
Still don’t know how to get bigger arms? Let me introduce you to the Z press, hailing from the great land of Lithuania and stemming from the inspiration of Žydrūnas Savickas. Performed seated on the ground with a barbell, this compelling compound exercise targets not just your shoulders and triceps, but also your upper back and core.
Unlike a traditional seated military press, the Z press is performed without back support. This is intentional, encouraging athletes to focus on stability when pushing weight overhead. The lack of back support adds a layer of complexity, forcing your core to work harder to keep the pressing motion stable. The result is a total upper body workout that enhances stability in other fundamental movements, like bench press and push press.
Let's walk through the technique of the Z Press:
Start by sitting on the ground with your legs extended in front of you, spreading them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart for balance. With your chest up and back straight, grip the barbell at shoulder-width, and position it in front of your shoulders. This is your starting position.
While keeping your core engaged and back straight, push the barbell straight up until your arms are fully extended, with a lockout in your elbows. Your line of sight should follow the barbell or stay directly forward.
Lower the barbell back to the starting position in a controlled manner. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
Performing the Z press requires a high level of focus, stability, and strength. Start with a manageable weight, focus on maintaining proper form, and increase the weight as your stability and strength improve.
Incorporating the Z press into your workout routine not only brings you closer to achieving bigger, stronger arms but also helps to improve your stability and core strength. We constantly preach dynamic trunk control here at Garage Strength, so incorporating DTC into our upper body and arm workouts is a must for athletes.
Banded Face Pulls
The last exercise on our list are banded face pulls. This compound movement, performed standing with a band attached to an anchor point, focuses on the rear delts and biceps, delivering high-volume stimulation.
Banded face pulls offer a contrasting movement, making them a perfect complement to pushing exercises like military press or tricep extensions. By incorporating both pushing and pulling movements into your routine, you ensure a balanced, well-rounded development of your upper body.
Now, let's explore the technique behind Banded Face Pulls:
Position yourself a few steps back from the anchor point, facing towards it. Grab the ends of the powerlastic band, extending your arms fully in front of you at shoulder height. This is your starting position.
Begin the movement by pulling the band towards your face while keeping your elbows high and in line with your wrists. Aim to pull the band apart as you bring it closer to your face, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position, maintaining resistance on the band throughout the movement. This will ensure constant tension on the rear delts and biceps. Since they are banded, feel free to up the volume and do sets of 20-30 along with your pushing exercises.
Tools for Better Muscle Mass
When it comes to building bigger, stronger arms, one piece of equipment stands out as an absolute must-have - the humble dumbbell. Dumbbells are a versatile and effective tool, crucial for developing both size and strength in your arms.
The unique advantage of dumbbells is that they allow a greater range of motion compared to other weight training equipment. This increased range allows you to fully stretch and contract your arm muscles, which is key for stimulating muscle mass.
Dumbbells also facilitate unilateral training, allowing you to work one arm at a time. This can help to balance asymmetries and prevent potential strength disparities between your arms.
Additionally, they offer a myriad of arm exercises, targeting the biceps, triceps, and all parts of the shoulder. From bicep curls and tricep kickbacks to overhead presses and lateral raises, you can perform a comprehensive arm workout with just a pair of dumbbells.
Powerlastic bands provide variable resistance, meaning the tension increases as the band is stretched. This causes your muscles to work harder in the fully contracted position, which can stimulate significant muscle growth. The biceps and triceps, for instance, receive peak tension during exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions at the point of full muscle contraction.
Moreover, powerlastic bands are a fantastic tool for high-repetition training, promoting muscle endurance and delivering that coveted muscle pump. They're also incredibly versatile, enabling a variety of exercises that target different areas of the arms, much like dumbbells.
Finally, the bands are portable and convenient. You can use them virtually anywhere, making them an excellent choice for those who prefer to work out at home or while traveling. These tube-style resistance bands, crafted from durable latex, offer a unique and highly beneficial approach to upper body training.
A frequently overlooked piece of equipment in the quest for stronger, bigger arms are thick grips. These simple attachments, which increase the diameter of your barbells or dumbbells, can have a transformative effect on your arm training.
Thick grips challenge your hands and forearms significantly more than standard bars. This is because the increased girth of the bar requires a stronger grip, thus engaging and strengthening your forearms to a greater extent. Enhanced forearm strength and size not only contribute to the overall look of bigger arms, but also support your ability to lift heavier weights in all upper body exercises.
Using thick grips can also benefit your grip strength, a key element in many strength training and functional movements. A stronger grip will allow you to handle heavier weights, thereby facilitating greater muscle growth in the arms over time.
Methods of Muscle Growth
Time Under Tension
TUT is particularly effective for arm training as it encourages better muscle fiber recruitment, particularly in the slow-twitch fibers that respond well to endurance-based exercises. Slow, controlled movements, both on the lifting and lowering phase, increase the time your muscles spend under tension, leading to greater micro-tears in the muscle tissue. These micro-tears, when repaired by your body, lead to more muscle mass.
A drop set involves performing a set to failure, then immediately reducing the weight and continuing for more reps until you reach failure again.The key advantage of drop sets lies in their ability to fully exhaust your muscles, thus eliciting a high degree of muscle fiber recruitment. This pushes your arms past their usual limits, stimulating more muscle mass.
Moreover, drop sets increase the overall volume of your workout, a crucial factor for hypertrophy. They also enhance muscle pump, increasing blood flow and nutrients to your arm muscles, which can further encourage growth.
A super set involves performing two arm exercises back-to-back with no rest in between, typically targeting opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps.
This technique provides dual benefits for arm growth. Firstly, super sets increase training intensity and volume—two key drivers of muscle hypertrophy. By working two muscle groups without rest, you're essentially doing more work in less time.
Compound Exercises for the Upper Arm
Compound lifts are a cornerstone of any effective strength training program, and how to get bigger arms. Unlike isolation exercises that target a single muscle group, compound lifts engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This includes the muscles in your arms.
Incorporating compound lifts such as the bench press, overhead press, or pull-ups into your training regimen can significantly enhance the growth of your arms. These exercises not only engage your arms directly but also stimulate the release of muscle-building hormones like growth hormone and testosterone.
For some people, growing their arms can be a challenge because of genetics or just getting stuck in the same cycle of training over and over again. These 12 exercises are a great place to start for making strides to having bigger arms. Getting bigger biceps, bigger triceps, and bigger shoulders won’t feel like a chore when you mix in these tactics.
If you want to find more exercises and more variations that cater to the resources you have, check out the Peak Strength app. This is an app we developed for athletes and fitness lovers to help them perform at the highest level they can. Try these exercises and tools to break the mold of basic training and become a BEAST!
Individualized Training App
Get elite level strength programming with
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
Start Training With Me
Join for free educational videos EVERY WEEK on strength coaching and athletic performance