5 Exercises For Building Upper Arm Strength


By Jamie Wykes Hobday |

There’s no way around it, the gun show is a must for guys and girls! Love it or hate it, arm training cannot be neglected.

Arm training is just like training any other muscle – the key is consistently hitting them hard and frequently with effective training methods suited to your own personal goals.

When looking to develop the arms, its all about having the knowledge to know which part of the arm itself that you are targeting with each exercise respectively.

Arm Training

With the bicep you are targeting the two heads of the bicep (bi=both); the short head and the long head.

Whilst the tricep is made of three heads (hence the ‘trip’); the lateral head, the medial head and the long head. However, this knowledge alone is not enough when looking to develop a rounded, complete set of arms.

In terms of training frequency; some train arms with corresponding body parts (back with biceps, chest with triceps etc), whilst others will dedicate a session entirely to arms.

Decide what works for you, everyone is different and listening to your body is one of the most essential personal attributes in fitness.

5 Exercises For Building Upper Arm Strength

barbell curl alon gabby

#1 Close Grip Bench Press 

Muscles Trained: Tricep Long Head & Inner Pectoral.

Exercise Variation: Close Grip Dumbbell Press.

a) Lie flat on the bench using a close grip on the barbell. Slowly lift the bar off the rack and position directly over your chest. This will be your initial position for the exercise.

b) Whilst lowering the bar down to your chest as much as possible, make a conscious effort to focus the tension on the triceps instead of the chest and inhale on this part of the movement. This part of the movement is the flexion part as your triceps are flexing under the stress of the resistance.

c) Once the bar has been lowered as much as possible, pause for a second, before powerfully exhaling your breath and pushing the bar back to the initial position using primarily your triceps.

(3 x 8-10)

#2 Rope Pushdowns

tricep pushdown
Primary Muscle Trained: Tricep Lateral Head

Exercise Variation: Cable Bar Press-downs.

a) Place a rope attachment to a cable machine at circa shoulder height.

b) Position yourself with a slight bend in the knee, torso facing upright and close stance feet, whilst your arms should be close to your body. Grip the rope, and this is where the movement will commence.

c) Whilst isolating your triceps, exhale your breath and bring the weight down to about your waist; fully extending the tricep until it is as straight as possible.

Whilst this is happening, your arms should be remaining close to your body. At this point, slowly return the rope to its starting position whilst inhaling throughout the movement.

(3 x 15 Repetitions)

#3 Neutral Grip BB Curls

Primary Muscle Trained: Bicep Short Head.

Exercise Variation: Cable Bar Curls.

a) Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, grip the barbell with a supinated grip. (palms facing upwards).

b) With your elbows kept close to your body and not sticking outwards, curl the bar to around neck/chin height and squeeze for 1 second. During this phase of the movement you should be exhaling all of your breath.

c) Once the contraction is adequately felt and achieved, slowly lower the weight back to its starting position (your waist) whilst inhaling your breath.

Technique: Keep your back straight throughout the movement and don’t allow your body to generate a swinging momentum to perform the exercise for you, all the movement should be via your biceps. It is also essential throughout this movement that your elbows are remaining close to your body.

(3 x 10-15 Repetitions)

#4 DB Hammer Curls 

dumbbell hammercurl

Primary Muscle Trained: Bicep Long Head.

Exercise Variation: Seated DB Hammer Curls.

a) The key here is to be standing upright with your elbows kept in close and tight to your body. Unlike the barbell curl, this time your hands will be in a neutral position; facing inwards towards your torso.

b) Whilst one arm remains still, curl the working arm in a forward manner and squeeze at the top of the movement for a second. For this movement, exhale your breathing and prevent any swinging from happening, the only part that should be moving is your biceps.

c) Whilst inhaling in, gradually return the dumbbell back to its starting position, to the side of your torso. This should be performed slowly as it is the eccentric part of the movement.

(3x 8-12 Repetitions Each Arm)

#5 Across The Body DB Hammer Curl 

Primary Muscle Trained: Bicep Long Head

Exercise Variation: Across The Body Cable Curls.

a) Whilst maintaining the same starting position as the dumbbell hammer curl, the focus this time should be curling one arm to the opposite shoulder and exhaling whilst it is being performed.

b) Eccentrically return the dumbbell back to the starting position whilst inhaling at the same time.

(3 x 15 Repetitions Each arm)

Take Home Message

When looking to increase muscle size and get an effective pump, its vital to consider rest time between sets. If starting out for the first time, try to rest around 60 seconds between sets, and for those who are experienced with resistance training, aim to narrow that time down to 30 seconds.

Also, try to Incorporate a 1:3 Tempo, a one second concentric (lift up) and three second eccentric (release phase) for maximal hypertrophy!


Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Writer and expert

Up to 70% off SALE - Use code: SALE Be quick, shop now!