Weekend Workout: CSN’s 5 tips and tricks to bigger arms
In this edition of CSN’s #WeekendWorkout we bring to you our tips and tricks to building bigger arms and a quick arm ‘blast’ workout designed to help make even the most stubborn arms grow. For many people starting out at the gym getting big arms is often the priority, which makes sense, as let’s face it, they are the muscle group that is most often on display and the show-off in all of us wants to be recognised for our efforts in the gym.
There are however a few things we have noticed that could be holding people back to truly maximising muscle growth in their arms, so without further ado here our top 5 tips and tricks to truly maximise your arm growth.
1. Use a full range of motion
Whatever muscle group you hit, working it through the entire range of motion has been shown to be consistently associated with increased muscle growth throughout the entire muscle. The temptation when training arms is to sacrifice technique in order to increase load, don’t… keep things tight, control the weight through the entire range of movement and try not to ‘cheat’ too much on the exercise bringing other muscle into play until you might need a little extra help to squeeze out those last few muscle building reps.
2. Hit different angles, grips and positions
The biceps have two distinct ‘heads’ and the triceps, as the name suggests, three! Each of these heads is involved in flexion and extension at the elbow joint but depending in what position we are in the focus of the weight we are lifting can be, to a certain extent, be directed to specific regions of the muscle.
We all have our favourite go-to exercises, but try and create some variety in your training. For bicep training try include hammer curls, EZ bar curl, cable curls to create constant tension, and preacher curls or crucifix cable curls to work the muscle in a more lengthened position.
For triceps, there are variations on cable push down movements, skull crushers, narrow grip pressing movements, dips, kickback and overhead extensions plus a number of different body positions at which these can be performed to change the dynamics of which head is being targeted and the amount of tension placed on the muscle.
3. Work across different rep ranges
The temptation with arm training is often to go too heavy. Although heavy training has its place, try and ensure that heavy is in the context of maintaining proper form. Going too heavy will often bring other muscles into play and we can lose focus on the target muscle group. When wanting to go heavy, try and do this on more compound movements such as heavy close grip pressing where we are expecting to move bigger loads and other muscle groups will be involved.
Remember heavy training should always be placed in the context of using proper technique.
Higher rep ranges, with lower loads helps to keep technique tight and using a proper tempo to create tension on the muscle throughout the entire movement is also going to recruit more and more muscle fibres as we fatigue. This combined with ‘pump’ sets, to really flood the muscles full of blood and nutrients will ensure you are creating a variety of different stresses to force the muscles to grow.
4. Implement increased training frequency
If you’re the kind of person who tags on a few bicep exercises on the end of a back workout, or triceps with chest in typical ‘bro-split’ fashion, then it might be worth while adding in another arm day per week, or adding different arm exercises to other sessions which might help to stimulate the muscles to grow.
This is especially important for advanced trainers where we need to really focus on maximising our weekly training volume, yet still allow time for recovery. Try hitting arms three times per week, but with only with two or three exercises per muscle group using a variety of different movements.
5. Reduce training frequency
Ok, this is exactly the opposite of the above advice and is something that is likely to be more evident in newcomers to the gym. Obviously arms, rightly or wrongly, are a priority for most people, so they jump in training arms every single training session. Initially this will get results, but plateaus will be reached really quickly, especially when people become more serious about their training and include other movements that will involve these muscles.
Imagine you have an arm day one day per week, but then you have a chest day and shoulder day all with lot of heavy pressing, plus on top of this you throw in a few extra triceps exercises on chest day because, well, that’s what you do isn’t it?! Now think about this in terms of the amount of work the triceps are doing and how much opportunity they have for recovery. Remember recovery equals growth.
This is also the case for those who train upper body regularly (who wants legs anyway!) who might do multiple push and pull movements in the week across different training sessions, which can include biceps and triceps as a secondary muscle group creating very high training volumes on these muscles. This might require some consideration in terms of both getting enough recovery time and ensuring we have the right nutritional strategies in place to ensure that we can handle high training frequency and volume.
Assess your training frequency and volume for the arm muscles across all exercises you perform and really think about if this could do with increasing or decreasing to fully maximise your gains.
CSN Arm Blasting Workout
1A. Single Arm Overhead Triceps Extension. 3 sets (each arm), 8-12 reps, 60 seconds between sets.
2A. Alternate Hammer Curls.3 sets, 16-20 reps (8-10 each arm), 90 seconds rest between sets.
3A. Skull Crusher. 2 sets, 15-20 reps, super set with…
3B. Close Grip Bench Press. Use same load as 3A for as many reps as possible, 2 mins between sets.
4A. Preacher Curl. 2 sets, 15-20 reps, super set with…
4B. Cable Bicep Curl. 10-15 reps, 2 mins between sets.
5A. Skull Crusher. 2 sets, 15-20 reps, giant set with…
5B. EZ Bar Bicep Curl. Use same load as 5A for as many reps as possible, 2 mins between sets.
As always Team CSN are here to help, call or email us today and we can give you professional, unbiased advice on all your nutrition, exercise and supplement needs.