Make your best gains yet with these specialized techniques.
Anthony Bevilacqua, C.P.T., for Muscle & Fitness 1 / 7
When it comes to bicep training, building muscle is pretty simple: Pick up weights and put them down. As long as you have good form, your biceps will grow, and you'll have a set of sizeable arms in no time.
But taking it to the next level can be a lot tougher. It a little bit more expertise. That's why we're bringing you these next-level bicep training tips. They'll help you gain noticeable size and definition in your arms.
Scroll through the gallery to get the lowdown on these little-used gym hacks. When you start ripping through your shirtsleeves, don't say we didn't warn you first.
Blood flow restriction training works particularly well for training arm muscles. When you restrict blood flow to a muscle, you're forcing blood to pool in that muscle—giving you a much bigger pump than you otherwise would. Blood flow restriction—also known as "occlusion training"—prevents blood from escaping your veins, but it allows your arteries to continue delivering blood to the muscle. It also "tricks" your body to use large fast-twitch muscle fibers, which leads to growth.
When utilizing occlusion training, however, start by using 50% of your normal weight. This type of training will allow your joints to recover while taxing your body and increasing the size of your arms. Use knee wraps high up on your arms—tight enough to be uncomfortable but not overly painful.
Try a superset of triceps and biceps. Use a rope pushdown for triceps and perform standing dumbbell curls for biceps. Use 50% of your regular weight.
Sample Occlusion Workout 1. Tricep Rope Pressdown 1 x 30 (superset with dumbbell curls) 2. Standing Dumbbell Curls 1 x 30 3. Tricep Rope Pressdowns 1 x 15 (superset with dumbbell curls) 4. Standing Dumbbell Curls 1 x 15 5. Continue you this until you complete three sets of 15 reps, and then pull the tourniquet off.
Research shows that your work volume is directly correlated with muscle growth. If you're doing eight sets of arm exercises once per week and you're not seeing results, try upping your volume, first by adding more arm sets on another day of the week.
Some guys find that training arms three times per week is ideal for growth. But don't just jump to three days a week—make sure you slowly walk your volume up over time. Don't just jump into three days per week without slowly increasing your volume, or you risk injury.
The primary function of your bicep is to lift the forearm toward the shoulders and to rotate the wrist. The primary function of the tricep is to fully extend the elbow. These motions are simple, but you'd be surprised how many ways you can vary them to hit every part of these complex muscle groups.
To maximize your bicep performance, do incline curls and focus on stretching your muscles to their full range of motion. Performing a chin-up or high cable pulls will hit the bicep from a higher angle. The same goes for triceps. Performing an overhead tricep extension will stimulate different heads of the muscle.
The Ultimate Arm Angle Workout 1. Incline Dumbbell Curls 4 x 8-10 2. Bodyweight Tricep Dips 4 x 15-20 3. Standing Barbell Curls 4 x 6-8 4. Narrow-grip Bench Press 4 x 6-8 5. High Cable Pulley Curls 4 x 12 6. EZ Barbell French Press 4 x 12
One simple (but not easy) way to increase the overall volume of your arm training is to superset your bicep and tricep routines. Instead of isolating your muscle groups, supersetting floods both muscle groups—and, essentially, your whole arm—with blood, thereby encouraging growth.
Remember, these muscles groups are "antagonists," and working one helps the other. When you perform a tricep movement, you fully stretch out the bicep. When you do a curling movement, you stretch out the triceps.
Your body doesn't like change. It doesn't want 20-inch arms and it will fight your efforts to obtain them, because carrying around that much muscle is metabolically expensive. To force your arms to grow, throw in more intense routines every couple of workouts. Shocking methods—like supersets, dropsets, pyramids, and "running the rack"—are designed to cause severe overload to the muscles and stimulate your arms to grow.
Bottom line: if you want to bulk up, you're going to have to eat to fuel that growth intelligently. Eighty percent of the results you'll see in the mirror are based off your nutritional habits. Make sure you're eating nutrient-dense food every day, along with quality protein sources. Keep track of how many calories you're consuming, and if you fail to gain at least one-half a pound per week, try to eat about 200-300 more calories of healthy food. To gain one solid inch on your arms, you're going to have to gain about 10 pounds of bodyweight.