Arm Exercises

5 Sleeve-Busting Arm Workouts

Get the horseshoe triceps, mountainous biceps, and Hulk-sized forearms you’ve always wanted.

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5 Sleeve-Busting Arm Workouts
Westend61 / Getty
Westend61 / Getty
Equipment Yes

Countless people come into the gym, throw some dumbbells and barbells around, grunt, and spend their rest periods flexing in the mirror to check for any microscopic changes. They might seem like pros, but they’re really putting a lot of energy into something that won't garner results. Sometimes it’s better to train smarter, not harder.

Many people don’t realize that they already hit their arms multiple times per week while hammering the larger parts, without ever doing any direct arm work. Every time we do a pressing movement, we use our triceps, every time we pull, we use our biceps and forearms. Because our biceps and triceps get worked during compound movements, it's important to limit the number of sets during isolation work—and make those sets count. Dedicated arm training should keep the sets low and the intensity high.

Train your biceps and triceps effectively from all angles and hit every fiber properly to initiate growth and power. These five workouts will make it happen

Powerful Arms This is a perfect old-school arm workout with no fancy bells and whistles.

Exercise Warmup A

Chinup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Chinup thumbnail
3 sets
To failure reps
-- rest
Warm up with three rounds for max reps

Exercise Warmup B

Close-Grip Pushup You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Close-Grip Pushup  thumbnail
3 sets
To failure reps
-- rest
Warm up with three rounds for max reps

Exercise 1

Barbell Curl How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 2

60-degree Incline Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl thumbnail
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 3

One-Arm Concentration Curls You'll need: Dumbbells How to
One-Arm Concentration Curls thumbnail
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 4

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 5

Overhead Dumbbell Extension
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest
On an incline bench

Exercise 6

Reverse-Grip Cable Pressdown
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
5-7 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Super Jacked A great way to shock stagnant growth is to include supersets, rest-pause, and drop sets into your workout arsenal.

Exercise Warmup A

Lying Cable Curl
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
To failure reps
-- rest
Warm up with two rounds for max reps

Exercise Warmup B

Rope Pushdown You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Rope Pushdown thumbnail
2 sets
To failure reps
-- rest
Warm up with two rounds for max reps

Exercise 1A

Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl thumbnail
2 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest
Seated at 70 degrees

Exercise 1B

Reverse-Grip Cable Pressdown
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
7-9 reps
30-45 sec. rest

Exercise 2A

EZ-Bar Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
EZ-Bar Curl thumbnail
2 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2B

V-Bar Triceps Pressdown
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
10-12 reps
30-45 sec. rest

Exercise 3

Cable Biceps Curl You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Straight Bar Attachment How to
Cable Biceps Curl thumbnail
-- sets
-- reps
-- rest
2 sets of 13-15 repetitions, rest 15 seconds. Max repetitions, rest 30 seconds. Max repetitions, rest 45-60 seconds between rest-pause sets.

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Kickback You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Kickback thumbnail
-- sets
-- reps
-- rest
2 sets of 13-15 repetitions, (drop weight) 6-8 repetitions. Rest 45-60 seconds between drop sets.

Pre-Exhaust Pre-exhausting the target muscles before doing heavier sets can be very beneficial. The muscles and joints are properly warmed up for the heavier sets and the heavier sets can be more productive in tearing down the various muscle fiber types.

Exercise 1

Cable Biceps Curl You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Straight Bar Attachment How to
Cable Biceps Curl thumbnail
2 sets
25-30 reps
30-45 sec. rest

Exercise 2

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 3

Barbell Curl How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 4

EZ-Bar Preacher Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar, Preacher Bench How to
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl thumbnail
2 sets
13-15 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 5

Pushdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine How to
triceps pushdown thumbnail
2 sets
25-30 reps
3-45 sec. rest

Exercise 6

Weighted Dip You'll need: Ankle Weights, Dip Station How to
Weighted Dip thumbnail
3 sets
7-9 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 7

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 8

Single-Arm Rope Triceps Pressdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment How to
Single-Arm Rope Triceps Pressdown thumbnail
2 sets
13-15 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Head Turner A great workout to force growth.

Exercise 1

Barbell Curl How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
2 sets
21-25 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 2

Hammer Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Alternating arms

Exercise 3

Lying Cable Curl
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
10-12 reps
30-45 sec. rest

Exercise 4

Concentration Curl
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
10-12 reps
30-45 sec. rest
Do this standing

Exercise 5

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 6

Rope Pushdown You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Rope Pushdown thumbnail
2 sets
10-12 reps
30-45 sec. rest

Ballistic Arm Assault Don’t try this workout more than once every two months as it will take that long to recover when done properly. Bare minimum rest should be taken between sets and the final exercise of each body part should be taken to absolute failure.

Exercise Warmup A

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Seated Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl thumbnail
3 sets
To failure reps
-- rest

Exercise Warmup B

Rope Pushdown You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Rope Pushdown thumbnail
3 sets
To failure reps
-- rest

Exercise 1

Barbell Spider Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
12, 8, 6 reps
30-45 sec. rest
Increase weight each set

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Hammer Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Hammer Curl thumbnail
3 sets
-- reps
-- rest
Sit on 70-degree incline. Increase weight each set, pushing to near failure.

Exercise 3

Barbell Curl How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
3 sets
8, 8, 12 reps
-- rest
Increase weight each set, leaving 1-2 reps in the tank.

Exercise 4

Lying Cable Curl
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
To failure reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

One-arm Reverse Cable Pushdown You'll need: Cable Machine How to
One-arm Reverse Cable Pushdown thumbnail
3 sets
12, 8, 6 reps
30-45 sec. rest
Increase weight each set.

Exercise 6

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
7, 8, 9 reps
-- rest
Increase weight each set, pushing to near failure.

Exercise 7

Pushdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine How to
triceps pushdown thumbnail
3 sets
8, 8, 12 reps
-- rest
Increase weight each set, leaving 1-2 reps in the tank.

Exercise 8

Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press
exercise image placeholder
-- sets
-- reps
-- rest
2 sets of 7-9 reps, (drop set) 4-6 reps, (drop set), max reps
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