Bigger, Stronger Arms

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Perform this routine in its entirety or in sections. Remember that the biceps act as secondary movers in many back exercises, and the triceps assist in many moves that develop the chest and shoulders. So consider working your triceps on days when you focus on your chest and shoulders, to completely fatigue your triceps. Likewise, throw in some exercises for your biceps and forearms when you work your back.

Train your arms no more than twice a week. Depending on which type of workout schedule you follow, use these arm exercises either at the end of upper-body workouts or on days when you don’t work your upper body at all. That way, your arms are never too exhausted to assist larger, stronger muscles earlier in each routine.

 

Week 1

Create your arm exercise routine by . . . Doing exercises 1 and 2 in sections A and B, plus both moves in C

Sets of each exercise: 3

Your total workout should be . . . 18 sets

Repetitions per set . . . 8–12

Speed of each repetition: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down

Rest between sets: 15 seconds

Do this workout . . . Twice a week

Week 2
Create your arm exercise routine by . . . Doing exercises 2 and 3 in sections A and B, plus both moves in C
Sets of each exercise: 3
Your total workout should be . . . 18 sets
Repetitions per set . . . 8—12
Speed of each repetition: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down
Rest between sets: 15 seconds
Do this workout . . . Twice a week Week 3
Create your routine by . . . Doing exercises 1 and 3 in sections A and B, plus both moves in C
Sets of each exercise: 3
Your total workout should be . . . 18 sets
Repetitions per set . . . 8—12
Speed of each repetition: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down
Rest between sets: 15 seconds
Do this workout . . . Twice a week

 

Week 4

Create your routine by . . . Doing all the moves in section A, then section B, then section C

Sets of each exercise: 3

Your total workout should be . . . 24 sets

Repetitions per set . . . 8—12

Speed of each repetition: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down

Rest between sets: 15 seconds

Do this workout . . . Twice a week

Section A

Wall Curl

(biceps)

With your feet and hands shoulder-width apart, stand against a wall and hold a light barbell in front of your thighs. Press your back against the wall so that your head, back, triceps, and heels touch it. Keeping your elbows close to your body, slowly curl the barbell up until your hands are in front of your shoulders. Squeeze your biceps, then slowly lower the bar.

 

Watch Your Form: Performing this move against a wall makes it nearly impossible to cheat. Keep your head, back, and triceps in contact with the wall and avoid letting yourself slide down it.

 

Video Demo

 

Alternating Grip Hammer Curl

(biceps, biceps brachialis, forearms)

Sit on the edge of a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms hanging at your sides and your palms toward you. Keeping your back straight, slowly curl the weights up until your thumbs are near your shoulders. Squeeze your biceps, then lower the weights. Next, rotate your wrists inward so your palms face behind you. Slowly curl the weights up, then slowly lower them.

 

Watch Your Form: Don’t turn your wrists as you curl, as some biceps exercises require you to do. Rotate them only at the end of each repetition.

 

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Pause Reverse Curl

(biceps, biceps brachialis, forearms)

Stand holding a light barbell with an overhand grip (palms down). Keeping your elbows close to your sides, slowly curl the bar up until your forearms are parallel to the floor. Pause for 3 seconds, then continue to curl the bar until it reaches your chest. Slowly lower the bar until your forearms are again parallel to the floor. Pause for another 3 seconds, then lower the bar to the starting position.

 

Watch Your Form: Start by using just the bar, with no added weight. Don’t cheat by swinging your elbows out and forward. Keep them pointing down at all times.

 

Video Demo

 

 

Section B

Twisting Rope Pulldown

(triceps)

Attach a rope handle to a high-pulley cable and grab an end with each hand. Spread your hands about 6 to 8 inches apart. Keeping your upper arms tucked at your sides, pull the rope down until your forearms are parallel to the floor. This is the starting position. Slowly pull the rope down until your fists reach your thighs, then rotate your wrists so your palms face out, away from your body. Squeeze your triceps for a second, then reverse the move to return to the starting position.

 

Watch Your Form: Stare straight ahead. Looking down may cause you to lean forward and let your shoulders assist.

 

Video Demo

 

Cross-Shoulder Extension

(triceps)

Lie on an incline bench and hold a light dumbbell overhead in your right hand, with your palm facing left. Place your left hand on your right triceps for support. Slowly bend your right arm to lower the weight to your left shoulder, keeping your wrist straight throughout the exercise. (You may need to tilt your head to the right to keep it out of the way.) Raise the weight back overhead and repeat for one set. Switch hands for the next set.

 

Watch Your Form: Make sure your upper arm remains stationary as you lower the weight. This keeps stress off your shoulder.

 

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Overhead Cable Triceps Extension

(triceps)

Attach a rope handle to a high-pulley cable and grab an end with each hand. Stand with your back to the weight stack, lean forward with one foot ahead of the other, and hold the rope just over your head with your arms bent. (Your upper arms should be almost parallel to the floor.) Straighten your arms in front of you. Pause, then slowly allow the resistance to pull your hands back overhead.

 

Watch Your Form: If your upper arms move up and down, you’re using your chest muscles instead of letting your triceps do the work.

 

Video Demo

 

Section C

Wrist Twist

(forearms)

Stand with a light dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides, palms facing behind you. Bend your arms to curl the weights up until your forearms are parallel to the floor. This is the starting position. Rotate your wrists until your palms face the ceiling, then rotate them back so your palms face the floor once again. That’s one repetition.

 

Watch Your Form: Go as slowly as possible. Rushing works less muscle and places tendons at risk of injury.

 

Video Demo

 

Double Wrist Curl

(forearms)

Sit on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor and a 3- or 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. Rest your forearms on your thighs so your wrists hang over your knees, and turn your palms down. (You may have to lean forward slightly.) Bending only at the wrists, lower the dumbbells as far as you can, then raise them as high as possible. Repeat for one set. Next, do the same with your palms facing up.

 

Watch Your Form: Imagine that your forearms are glued to your legs, to keep your biceps from helping.

 

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