Arm Exercises

Higher Biceps, Sweeping Triceps Workout

Win the arms race with this barrage of muscle-building moves.

Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Duration 1 day
Exercises 8
Equipment Yes

If you're a fan of bodybuilding I'm sure you've seen pictures of the various champions of our sport, and how different all of their arms look. Basically all IFBB pros have absolutely huge arms, but it is amazing how uniquely all of them are shaped. Some guys have extreme peaks on their biceps, while others have more length and/or roundness. Many pros have biceps or triceps that are rather short, inserting well before they reach the elbow, while others have muscle bellies with seemingly no end. Look at photos of Coleman vs. Levrone, Arnold vs. Lou, or Kai vs. Wolf, and you will see six pairs of utterly massive, but yet completely different looking arms.

The question is, did all of these unique shapes come about from various training techniques or special exercises, or are they simply a function of genetics? The answer is, “a little of one and a lot of the other.” Yes, the role of genetics is huge, as we can do nothing about how our muscles insert, nor how they are shaped (for the most part). However, what we can do is utilize certain exercises that either target a specific “head” of a muscle, or create the illusion that you have enhanced a specific portion of a muscle. In other words, while we cannot alter the genetic map for specific muscles, we can change the overall look of the landscape by throwing a little extra dirt on just the right spots.

Biceps

One of the greatest desires of most of the bodybuilders I meet is to achieve a more dramatic “peak” on the biceps, and in order to do so, you must “specialize.” “Specialize on what,” you ask? The brachialis my peak-seeking friends! This often overlooked muscle lies underneath the biceps, and when fully developed, looks like a thick knot of muscle that pops out of the side of the upper arm when they are flexed and viewed from the rear.

Now, the problem with the brachialis is that while doing most curling movements, it is a weak flexor of the upper arm. “So what do I do?” I’m glad you asked! What needs to be done is to put the biceps in a mechanically weak position when performing curling movements, so that the brachialis needs to be activated to a much greater degree. Like I said, most curling movements will not “get-er-done,” as it takes specific hand positions and/or curling angles to force the brachialis to take the brunt of the load.

upper arm workout

Now, when it comes to building truly stand-out arms you must remember that the triceps are responsible for about 2/3 of the overall size. And lets face it, we want guns that impress when they are simply hanging down at our sides, as walking around flexing is just not socially responsible (and likely quite exhausting)! So how do we create this appearance? By maximally developing the inner, or long head of the triceps.This is the section responsible for that “sweep” under the biceps in a front double arm pose, and the dramatic thickness on the back of the upper arm seen in a back lat-spread pose.

To best target the long head you must choose exercises that force the elbows up by the ears throughout the movement. EMG studies have shown that this is the optimal arm positioning to utilize when looking for the strongest activation of inner (long) triceps head fibers.

Follow the workout below to achieve bigger bis and more sweeping tris.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Alternating Side Hammer Curl
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3 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Preacher Curl
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2 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Reverse Barbell Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
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2 sets
13-15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Overhead Cable Curl
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2 sets
16-20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Incline Overhead EZ Bar Extension
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3 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest

Exercise 6

Overhead Cable Extension
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3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 7

Lying Barbell Extension
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2 sets
13-15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 8

Overhead Dumbbell Extension
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2 sets
16-20 reps
-- rest
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