Training

How To Get Bigger Arms | Anatomy, Exercises, Technique

 

The arms are an incredibly important group of muscles when it comes to achieving an aesthetic, proportional physique.

Not only do big arms look good, strong arms also contribute massively to strength in all Upper-body compound exercises, such as the Bench Press and the Barbell Bent-over Row.

 

The Anatomy of the Biceps

 

When aiming to gain bigger and stronger arms, we must first be aware of the muscles that are in the arms:

 

The Biceps are a muscle of 2 heads:

✓ The “short/inner head” – the Biceps Brachii

✓ The  “long/outer head” – the Brachialis.

 

biceps anatomy

 

The Biceps Brachii originates in the anterior portion of the Scapula, known as the coracoid process. The Brachialis, however, originates in the Supraglenoid tubercle, again of the anterior portion of the scapula.

Both heads of the Biceps insert into the Radial tuberosity (an area on the Radius bone of the forearm).

The Brachioradialis muscle of the forearm originates in the humerus, and inserts into the radius.


Functions of the biceps

 

1) Elbow Flexion

The Biceps muscles and the Brachioradialis are the muscles responsible for bending the elbow. This is why exercises such as the Dumbbell Curl and Barbell Curl are so popular, as they isolate this function.

2) Wrist Supination

This is the rotation of the wrist, from the palm of the hand facing down, to the palm of the hand facing up. This explains why Dumbbell Curls are often performed with a twisting motion. The Biceps Brachii is the head of the Biceps that is mostly involved with this function.

 

Biceps and Forearm Exercises

 

Within our training, we must utilise these functions, whilst performing exercises that target both heads of the Biceps, as well as the Brachioradialis. In order to train a muscle effectively, the insertion point of the muscle fibres must be brought closer to the origin point, with maximum resistance being applied throughout the motion.

 

EXERCISE #1

Standing Supinated Cable Curl/Dumbbell Biceps Curl

 

These exercises place an emphasis on the Biceps Brachii, due to wrist supination.

A Straight-bar attachment can be used, or a Single Handle cable attachment for the cable exercise.

barbell biceps curls

 

I believe either of these exercises should be performed, as they both have their own, individual benefits:

1) Standing Supinated Cable Curl allows for constant tension to be placed upon the Biceps Brachii.

2) The Dumbbell Curl allows for more free-range of motion, and may be more comfortable to perform.

Whichever exercise you choose to perform, make sure you carry it out safely, and apply the principle of Progressive Overload, and progress in reps/weights each session.

 


Technique tips:

The elbows should be kept close to the body, hands slightly wider than shoulder width

Upper arms should be stationary – only the forearms should move

Straight torso throughout the entire movement

Exhale when you contract the biceps, inhale when lowered

Hold the contraction at the top of the move for 1-2 seconds

 


EXERCISE #2

Standing Cable Hammer Curl

 

standing cable hammer curl

 

Using the rope attachment for this exercise will allow for a Neutral hand grip to be used. This grip will place emphasis on the Brachialis and the Brachioradialis muscles.

 


Technique tips:

Stand up straight, (all the way throughout the movement) roughly 12 inches away from the machine

Palms should be facing inward and upper arms stationary – only forearms move

Exhale when you contract the biceps, inhale when lowered

✓ Hold the contraction at the top of the move for 1-2 seconds

 

— The Anatomy of the Triceps —

 

The Triceps are a muscle on the upper arm that makes up the mass of approximately 2/3 of the total size – meaning Triceps exercises are the answer to those wanting to know how to get bigger arms!

The triceps consist of 3 parts:

 

✓ The Long-head

✓ The Lateral head

✓ The Medial head

 

triceps anatomy

 

The Long-head of the Triceps originate in the infraglenoid tubercle of the Scapula. The Medial and Lateral head originate in regions of the Humerus bone.

 


The functions of the Triceps include:

 

1) Elbow Extension

This involves the straightening of the elbow. It is isolated in exercises such as the Cable Triceps Extension.

2) Stabilising the Shoulder joint

The Long-head of the Triceps contributes to stabilisation of the shoulder joint, as it inserts into the Scapula.

 

Exercises for Bigger Triceps

 

EXERCISE #3

Close Grip Bench Press

The Close Grip Bench Press allows for heavy loads to be placed directly onto the Triceps muscles.   I recommend going no closer than shoulder-width apart, as any closer than this can place a huge stress onto the wrist joint, and can cause serious injury.

If you have a dedicated ‘Arms day’ within your training program, then the Close Grip Bench Press should be a staple exercise.

 

cgs

 


Technique tips:

 Grip the barbell no closer than shoulder-width apart, as any closer than this can place a huge stress onto the wrist joint, and can cause serious injury.

The elbows should be tucked throughout the movement, with as little elbow flair as possible.

If you have performed heavy Bench Pressing during you training that day, you should perform the V-Bar Triceps Extension instead of this exercise.

✓ Hold the contraction at the top of the move for 1-2 seconds

 


EXERCISE #4

Overhead Triceps Extension

 

This exercise is best performed with a rope, using a cable machine – you will probably see a variety of different variations. This exercise focuses on strengthening the long-head of the triceps.

The long-head does not get optimally trained during heavy pressing exercises such as the Bench Press and the Close Grip Bench Press, so this exercise allows for all-round development.

Using a dumbbell is renowned to place extra pressure onto the elbow tendon, which can cause tendinitis, so I recommend using a cable machine.

 


Technique tips:

Arms extended overhead with palms facing inwards

Elbows close to your head

Inhale as you perform the movement, exhale on reverse

✓ Hold the contraction at the top of the move for 1-2 seconds

 


EXERCISE #5

V-Bar Triceps Extension

 

The V-Bar Triceps extension is performed using a cable machine, with the V-Bar attachment.

The V-Bar attachment allows for my wrists to be in comfortable, pain-free position – unlike when I use a straight-bar.

 

 ______________________________________________________________

 

V-bar triceps extension

 

I would suggest performing this exercise if:

1) Your Triceps are under-developed compared to the rest of your physique.

2) You have performed heavy Bench Press during your training that day.

The reason I would suggest this is because the Overhead Triceps Extension tends to allow for sufficient volume of the Triceps to cause metabolic fatigue to allow for growth, in most people. However, if you feel the need to dedicate more time and effort into your Triceps then this is a great exercise.

 


Technique tips:

Starting position – over-hand grip at shoulder width

Stood upright, torso straight with slight bend forward

Upper arms stationary, only forearms move

✓ Hold the contraction at the bottom of the move for 1-2 seconds

 

Sets and Reps

 

2 sets of 6-12 reps of Standing Supinated Cable Curl/Dumbbell Bicep Curl.

2 sets of 6-8 reps of Standing Cable Hammer Curl.

Aim to train with heavier weights when doing the Standing Cable Hammer Curl. This is due to the muscles it incorporates reacting better to fast, heavy contractions.

 

3 sets of 6 reps of Close Grip Bench Press @ 80% of your 1 rep max for this exercise.

3-5 sets of 6-12 reps of Overhead Tricep Extensions.

3-5 sets of 6-12 reps of V-Bar Tricep Extensions.

 

Take Home Message

 

Arm Workout Summary

 

Exercise  Sets and reps
Cable/Dumbbell Bicep Curl 2 x 6-12
Standing Cable Hammer Curl 2 x 6-8
Close Grip Bench Press 3 x 6 at 80% 1 rep max
Overhead Tricep Extension 3-5 x 6-12
V-Bar Tricep Extension 3-5 x 6-12

 

Remember, always aim for progression within your training.

In order for muscle growth, progressive overload is vital. Aim to increase the number of reps/weight you perform/use every training session.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Myprotein

Myprotein

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Qualified Nutritionist and Personal trainer.


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