Written by Jack Boardman
Get The Most Out Of Your Arm Workouts
If you’re aiming for monster arms, you might have wondered how often you should be exercising them, whether you’re doing too much, not enough, and how rest and recovery come into play.
For most, ‘arms workouts’ means your biceps and triceps. Odds are, if you’re a bodybuilder or avid weightlifter you’re likely to be working your arms more regularly than you realise. As you’ll know by now, any exercise that involves pushing will work the triceps and pulling channels will work the biceps. When mapping out your workouts for the week, many people don’t bear this in mind and will work the back, for example, without realising that rigorous pulling workout has also worked – and potentially exhausted – the biceps.
To give a one-size-fits-all answer, you should train your arms twice a week, but factor in a rest of two or three days in between. If you are a highly advanced bodybuilder with extensive muscle mass, make it one day a week.
If you’re just getting started, or at the beginning of your road to arms gains, your bi-weekly arm workout should include 4-6 sets. As you develop and learn the capabilities of your body, including how you recover after each set, you could advance the number of sets to 10-12 twice a week.
Form is everything. It’s no good knocking out as many sets and reps as you can with your arms flailing or only imitating the movement you’re trying to do. If you don’t know how to do an exercise, you should seek professional advice from a trainer, and make the most of the gym mirrors when you do know – that’s what they’re meant to be there for, after all. For example, a bicep curl should be a slow, intentional movement that channels the biceps. You should always feel the muscle you’re working contract. Each rep should be even and purposeful. If you can’t complete a rep, the weight is too heavy.
Gains very much depend on nutrition and rest, to ensure that you get the most out of the work you’ve put in at the gym. As mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to allow two or three days’ rest between your arm workouts. After muscle-fatiguing, or a session solely focused on the arms, schedule a workout day that involves complete rest and immobility for your arms. This could be a break from the gym entirely, or a leg day that doesn’t use your arms at all, but bear in mind that the likes of chest, back and shoulder workouts are going to put your biceps or triceps to work.
What’s the problem with that? Well, nothing if it’s part of a plan that puts muscle fatiguing exercises to use, but if not, your workout might suffer for it. Think about it, if you’re working the chest the next day, your triceps will need to be fully rested in order to achieve chest gains. If your triceps are sore or exhausted, then you’ll have a hard time benching at your best.
Another idea you could work into your week is to take advantage of muscle fatiguing. Incorporate bicep days into your back day, and tricep workouts into your chest days by ending your workout with four-six sets of isolated exercises.