Going shirtless or wearing a tank top at the beach can be a nerve-wracking experience if you aren’t feeling great about your arms.

Recently, training programs have shied away from isolation movements for the “functional” and “athletic” type programs instead. While there’s nothing wrong with that, those approaches can leave certain “problem” areas underdeveloped—especially if you're focused on your physique. And focusing on arm development can be a slow process, especially if you're sticking with the usual set and rep schemes.

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The solution? Moving away from the basics and focusing on a few key advanced concepts, you can add slabs of muscle to your arms—and start splitting your sleeves in no time.

Technique 1: Progressive Overload

With progressive overload, you'll continually lift more to make your muscles work harder than they’re accustomed to. This excess demand will help you to make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance.

Here are three ways you can progressively overload your muscles.

1. Increase resistance - Add more weight
2. Increase sets - add a couple more sets to each exercise
3. Increase reps- mix up your volume with higher and lower rep schemes. 

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Technique 2: Time Under Tension

Time under tension simply refers to how long a specific muscle group is under strain during a set. You can probably do 10 reps of barbell bicep curls in about 15-20 seconds. But simply by doing them more slowly, you can increase that time under tension to 35-40 seconds. This forces your biceps to work 15-20 seconds longer allowing the muscle fibers to grow.

An effective way to increase your time under tension is through tempo training. There are multiple tempos that you can use when lifting, but one favorite for bicep growth is 4,0,1,0: 4 seconds on the way down, 0 seconds at the bottom, 1 second on the way up, 0 seconds at the top. This is also known as eccentric training, which emphasizes the phase of a lift when your target muscles lengthen, rather than contract.

By combining tempo training with a sound bicep and tricep program, your muscles will have no choice but to grow. Here’s a four week arms program you can do twice a week.

The 4-Week Arm-Builder Program

Week 1: 4 sets 12 reps

Over Bench Curl
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Barbell Curl (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Rope Press Down (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Overhead DB Extension
Parallel Bar Dips (failure)

Week 2: 4 sets of 10 reps

Over Bench Curl
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Barbell Curl (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Rope Press Down (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Overhead DB Extension
Dips (failure)

Week 3: 5 sets of 12 reps

Over Bench Curl
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Barbell Curl (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Rope Press Down (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Overhead DB Extension
Dips (failure)

Week 4: 5 sets of 8 reps

Over Bench Curl
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Barbell Curl (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Rope Press Down (4,0,1,0 Tempo)
Overhead DB Extension
Dips (failure)

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