Every guy wants to have bigger arms! However, the question is, how do you get big arms?
I have found, through my experience, the best way to create the arms you want is through progressive overload, slowing down your reps and patience. Good things happen to those who wait.
Density AKA Patience.
Let's get the hard part over and done with first. To start off with, let’s be clear, arms are just like any other muscle and building mass in your arms isn’t any different than it is with larger muscle groups like your chest or quads. So, just like these muscle groups, they don’t grow over night. If tomorrow is your first ever session in the gym don’t expect significant gains in 1 week, 1 month or 6 months.
The keyword here is density. How mature and dense your muscle is will essentially determine it’s size. Why?
The keyword to remember with density is patience. Density and mature muscle can only be obtained through years and years of consistent, dedicated training. These muscle models you see on Instagram, on stage, in the Olympia have picked up weights and trained hard…. Real hard for long time. You want that tensed look when it is actually relaxed. I’m sorry that will only come with time.
However, before you give up reading this, there are ways to maximise this and get the arms you want quicker.
As I said before, biceps and triceps are just like any other muscle. They need to be stimulated in different ways with heavy weight and high volume to grow. Now comes the term progressive overload.
This principal refers to continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system in order to continually make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. In simplest terms - In order to get bigger and stronger you must continually lift more and more and make your muscles work harder than they are used to. If you don't, your muscles will not become any stronger or bigger than they currently are.
Conversely, if the demands on your muscles are not at least maintained and are actually decreased, your muscles will become smaller and weaker. Progressive overload is a very simple concept but it is crucial - it lays the foundation upon which resistance training is built.
An Example Of Progressive Overload
For the purpose of this article, we are wanting to achieve bigger arms.
Say you have been doing bicep curls with 15kg dumbbells for quite some time now and it has been getting easier and easier. Your biceps have grown but they have reached a plateau.
Essentially your biceps have adapted to the demands you placed on them and are not getting the same stimulus from doing that weight anymore.
Here are the 3 easiest ways to create progressive overload.
- Increase resistance/weight - It may seem obvious but the amount of people who never increase the weight of their bicep curl is huge. So next time you feel as though the weight you bicep curl is getting easier, increase it. A good indicator of when to increase the weight is when you are able to perform more than your target amount of rep
- Increase sets – When you don’t feel like you have gained enough strength yet to move up the weight but its getting slightly easier, increase the amount of sets you perform. If you normally did 4 sets of biceps curls, move it up to 5 sets of bicep curls.
- Increase reps – My favourite way of achieve progressive overload is by doing more reps. This is because it allows me to be in a constant state of progressive overload. I aim to overload every session but I would be superman if I managed to increase my weight every single session. Therefore I come in and try and beat my last session by doing more reps. This shows I’m getting stronger but also means I can move up in weight faster.
Slow Down (Your Rep).
So many guys want bigger arms, but hardly any of them train them correctly. So many go into the gym, pick up heavier weight than they can press and swing until their hearts content. This achieves precisely 0.001 gains. Studies have shown that slower, more controlled reps are so much more beneficial to muscle growth, especially on the eccentric portion. The eccentric portion of a lift is when the muscle lengthens (so with a bicep curl it is the downward portion of the exercise)
Negatives are when you slow down the eccentric portion of the exercise. These are what create the most microtrauma, which lead to bigger signals for muscular growth.
To achieve the perfect Negative rep, follow these guidelines:
- Sacrifice the weight- Make sure you can actually perform the actual exercise without bringing other muscle groups into it.
- Concentrate on the squeeze- For biceps, hold for a second at the top of the curl and for triceps, really make sure you fully extend your arms (tricep extension)
- Slowly lower the weight- instead of dropping the weight back down before you perform another rep, slowly lower the weight back. 3-4 seconds on the latter part of the exercise is what will make your arms scream.
I am a firm believer in training muscle groups more than twice a week and I’m the same with arms. Why?
Because it means there is constant stimulus to the muscle and it is in a constant state of growth. However, I do not ‘destroy’ each muscle group every time I train it. If I were to destroy them then I would be over-training myself and probably accumulate a fair few injuries on the way.
Therefore, whenever I hit arms, which is roughly 3-4 times a week. I will only perform 4-6 sets of biceps and triceps. Making sure I do slow and controlled sets to maximise the stimulus and, in turn, maximise growth.
I'm sure if you follow these tips and constantly strive to increase your training weights, you can't help but make significant gains.
I wish you success in your training and hope to hear that you managed to get the arms you have always wanted.
If you would like me to post my current and favourite arm sessions, then please comment below.
In the mean time checkout out our 'gun hugging' PerformaFit T-shirts that have been cut to be tighter around the arms.