Arm Exercises

The Big Arms Solution

Everyone wants a killer set of pipes but have you tried this varied, iron-heavy approach.

arm flex

Owning a big set of arms is something all guys want to have. Because, unless you live in the sleeves-mandatory territory of Alaska, a thick set of meat hooks shows everyone that you are pounding the weight at the gym and downing protein shakes to recover and grow. The sad thing is even though most guys train for bigger biceps and triceps, not all of them have great arms. Why is that?

1. Overusing Light Weight and High Reps

Everyone is chasing the pump. It used to be that guys would get in the gym to get stronger but somewhere along the way – in a nitric oxide-induced frenzy – we started doing crazy high-rep schemes in search of skin-bursting pumps. While this approach does hold some merit, it won't always result in bigger muscles. If high reps and a “pump” in the arms were the key to muscle growth in the biceps, then all of the guys on the crew or rowing team would have big arms.

2. Overusing Isolation

Isolation work does have its place, especially when it comes to smaller muscle groups like the bi’s, tri’s and calves. But too much isolation can take away from the overall development of your arms. Look at guys that compete in strongman competitions. They simply lift and carry heavy weight, usually with thick handles and awkwardly shaped objects and have cartoonishly huge arms (even if they are sometimes less defined). Gymnasts are also known to have huge, shredded arms relative to their size and bodyweight. They mainly perform push-up, pull-up and dip variations, none of which are isolation movements.

Incline Curl

The Solution

It may seem obvious now that we’re having the conversation but your best bet is to use heavy weight and low reps and perform compound movements that require the arms (triceps and biceps) to take up a lot of the work with the help of some larger muscles. By infusing some calculated bouts of heavy work into your arm training, you will build greater strength, which allows you to use more weight on your higher-rep “pump” work days. If you want your arms to be huge like a strongman and ripped like a gymnast, follow this workout program 2-3 days a week until you curse the tightness of your sleeves.



Reps or Distance     

Chin-up - Superset w/






Close Grip Bench Press - Super w/



Incline DB Hammer Curl       



Farmer's Walk - Superset w/


50 meters

DB Curl to Overhead Press 



On each exercise, go as heavy as possible in the rep range or distance listed. The farmer’s walk and dumbbell curl to overhead press are done as stand alone exercises – not a superset. Rest 90 seconds between supersets and 120 seconds between sets of the last two exercises.

For more training info from Justin Grinnell, CSCS, you can go to, or visit his gym’s website at, his Facebook page, or check him out on Twitter. He is the author of The Grinnell Lifestyle: My Nutritional Doctrine, available on Amazon.

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