Let's be honest... arms are without question the show muscles of your physique. They're highly visible, fun to train, and can answer the question "do you even lift?" without having to say a word. Because of this, it's no wonder that arms are one of the most desirable muscle groups to develop.
Just do a million curls and you'll have huge arms, right?
While this may work to put a bit of muscle on your arms, if you want truly impressive arm development, it's going to take a much more strategic approach.
Below, we've compiled a few of our top tips for training your arms.
Without getting into an anatomy lesson, you need to understand that your bicep is made up of two unique heads (long and short) and your brachialis, and your tricep is made of three heads (lateral, medial, and long). In order properly stimulate these muscle groups for growth, each of these heads needs to be targeted.
Biceps: The long and short heads work together to perform the classic curling motion. Any curl will hit both of these heads, but you can modify movements to put more emphasis on one or the other. Movements where your elbow is tucked behind your hip (incline curls or drag curls) will emphasize the long head, while movements where your elbow is in front of your hip (preacher curls or spider curls) will emphasize the short head.
As for the brachialis, this muscle is best stimulated with a neutral or overhand grip, such as a hammer curl or overhand barbell curl.
Triceps: To properly hit each head of your tricep, you need to do, at a minimum, three types of lifts. An overhand tricep extension and an underhand extension will hit the medial head and lateral head respectively. In order to hit the long head, you need to perform a movement where your elbow is up near your ear, such as a skullcrusher or overhead extension.
The concept of a strength curve is fairly simple: any muscle is weakest where it is fully contracted, or fully lengthened. It is strongest in between these two points. Any quality arm workout should include one exercise at each of these weak points.
For your biceps, the muscle is fully lengthened when your elbow is behind your body. Think of an incline curl, where your elbow is extended behind your hip. In order to fully contract your bicep, you need to get your elbow above your shoulder. Think of a behind-the-head cable curl.
Triceps work the same way for the most part, just in reverse! A fully lengthened tricep occurs when your elbow is extended above your head, and is fully shortened when your elbow is kicked behind your hips.
As you probably know, the biceps are responsible for the standard curling motion of the arm, but many people forget that it's also responsible for forearm supination.
To understand this function, stand or sit with your arm at your side. Lift your forearm so it's parallel to the floor with your palm facing down. (keep you elbow at your side) If you twist your forearm so your palm is facing upwards, this is supination!
Any good bicep workout should include some sort of supination work. This can be as simple as turning the dumbell during a curl, or as isolated as performing a supination curl.
Any experienced lifter knows this, and this is our top tip for training just about any muscle group. I can't tell you how often I've seen a new lifter grab the 40lb dumbbells and start swinging them violently to get them up. Muscle building comes down to isolation and maximizing contractions... so swallow your ego and choose a manageable weight.
Questions? Reach out and we'll be happy to discuss this topic further!
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