For most people, doing an arm workout is the most satisfying part of their gym routine – after all, nothing says “I am STRONG” like flexing your biceps! The musculature of the upper arm is made up of three basic components:
- Biceps Brachii: the two muscle heads (long head on the outside; short head on the indside) at the front of the arm that perform the curling motion, and assist with pronation (turning in) and supination (turning out) of the forearm
- Triceps Brachii: the three heads on the back of the arm that straighten out the elbow
- Brachialis: a smaller head located under the biceps that assists with elbow flexion, but does not help with pronation or supination
Whether you’re looking to put on size, tone up, or improve your performance during other exercises, follow our guide below to ensure you aren’t wasting your time in the gym.
Workouts for Amazing Biceps and Triceps
When people think of doing an arm workout, they immediately think of performing bicep exercises and not much else. What is often overlooked, however, is that the triceps actually make up about two-thirds of the upper arm’s mass. For a complete arm workout, you should dedicate equal time to the biceps and triceps, with a small amount of time spent on forearms if your grip strength is lagging.
Today, we will look at arm exercises to improve the biceps, with Part 2 of this guide focusing on triceps.
Training the Biceps
(All exercises to be performed with 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps)
This should be a staple in anybody’s routine. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a barbell that you can comfortably perform 8-12 weighted reps with. Be sure to keep your abs braced and your elbows firmly by your side – lifting your elbows to the front or letting them drift backwards will take tension from your biceps and place it on your shoulders instead. Experiment with different grip spacing on the bar to emphasize each of the biceps heads.
This type of curl helps to recruit the brachialis and improve overall grip strength. Sit on the edge of a bench and take two dumbbells that you can perform 8-12 reps with. With the dumbbells hanging by your side, perform a strict curl with your palms facing each other (i.e. hold the dumbbell like you would hold a hammer). For maximum results, squeeze the bicep at the top of the motion, and lower the dumbbell over a 4-5 second period. You can either curl with alternating arms, or do both at once if you are able to keep your form intact.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Take an adjustable bench and set the incline to about 45-60 degrees – you want to be leaning back but still be in a sitting (rather than lying) position. Take a dumbbell in each hand, and, while focusing on keeping your shoulder blades pulled back, begin to curl the weight up. You want your palms to be facing the ceiling at all times, and to control the swing of your arms so that the dumbbell moves in a smooth arc. Because of the incline, your biceps should be more “stretched” than if you were standing up. This places more stress on the lower part of your biceps, and incorporates more brachialis recruitment.
In our next post, we will look at what makes an effective tricep workout, and how to combine it with the above workout for maximum results!