How to Get Bigger Arms (Expert Guide)
If you want to know how to get bigger arms, this guide is your one-stop solution. Here, we’ll discuss several science-backed exercises and practices for developing your arm muscles.
A Look Into the Upper-Arm Muscles
There are five muscles to focus on when planning your arm exercise schedule. We’ll briefly describe each.
The biceps is the large, thick muscle at the front of your upper arm. It has a short and a long head, which make arm abduction and adduction possible. The long head lies on the lateral side of your biceps, while the short head is on the medial side. Its primary function is supporting and stabilizing the brachialis muscles responsible for lifting and lowering our forearms. However, despite its size, the biceps isn’t the most powerful muscle/flexor of the upper arm.
Exercises that focus on this muscle should therefore definitely be part of your workout plan for bigger arms. Here’s why: its large cross-sectional area provides greater strength, explaining why it’s stronger than the biceps. The brachialis muscle is responsible for flexing your elbow, so its main role is to lift and lower your forearm. It’s located alongside the biceps and the coracobrachialis in the anterior compartment of the arm.
Three muscles extend from the coracoid process of your scapula, and the coracobrachialis is one of them. It performs three main functions, namely:
- Flexing and adducting the humerus
- Helping stabilize the humeral head
- Facilitating the internal rotation of the arm.
Also known as the triceps brachii, this three-headed muscle covers the entire length of the humerus and originates from the scapula and humerus. Its main responsibilities are to extend your forearm at the elbow and adduct your arm at the shoulder.
The anconeus is a small muscle that attaches to the ulna and humerus and sits at the elbow. It renders support for elbow extension. It’s crucial for forearm extension and supports the ulna and dorsal joint capsule. It also prevents damage to the dorsal joint by maintaining tension during hyperextension.
Big Arms Workout – Most Effective Exercises
To achieve tangible results, you have to work hard and smart by doing the right exercises. We’ve divided them into biceps and triceps exercises.
A 2014 ACE study shows that the best exercises for your biceps involve lifting and pulling/curling weights with the arms towards your shoulders. Here are some of them.
Concentration curls offer the greatest benefits when building the biceps. That’s because they isolate the muscle the most. Here’s how to do these curls:
- Sit towards the end of a bench with a dumbbell in one hand and legs spread in a V-shape.
- Lean your elbow against the side of your thigh.
- Keep your body still, lifting and lowering the dumbbell repeatedly until you need to rest.
To do the cable curl, follow these steps:
- Stand a couple of feet away from the pulley machine.
- Grasp the cable, palms facing forward and elbow touching your side.
- The foot opposite your curling hand should be slightly in front of your other foot.
- Pull the barbell up to your chest repeatedly but slowly until you need a rest after 12–15 pulls.
This is definitely one of the best bicep exercises, and the reason is its effectiveness. Here’s what you need to do:
- Grab the pull-up bar with the back of your hands facing forward.
- Hang freely without swinging and pull yourself up toward the bar until your chest touches it.
- Pause for a second and then gradually lower yourself back.
- Do 8–10 reps for each of the three sessions.
Let’s take a look at a couple of exercises scientifically proven as the most effective in building your triceps.
The triangular push-up is likely the biggest booster for the triceps. Here’s how to do this exercise:
- Assume the traditional push-up position.
- With your palms on the floor, form a triangle between your thumbs and index fingers.
- Keep your torso and legs straight, then begin to push up.
- Repeat 12–15 times and rest.
Trailing push-ups are triceps kickbacks when it comes to effectiveness. Here’s how to make your arms bigger with this workout routine:
- Hold a dumbbell in both hands and bend your knees.
- With a straight back, hinge forward at the waist until your upper half is near-parallel to the floor.
- Move the dumbbell to and fro without moving your upper arms.
- Repeat 12–15 times per session.
Best Practices for Bigger Muscles
Many people don’t understand that exercise alone isn’t enough to bulk up. Check out the following tips which should help you get the best out of your bis and tris workout.
Step up Your Weekly Training
The synthesis of muscle protein reboots after 48–72 hours, giving you plenty of room to work your biceps and triceps more often for optimal growth. So, take advantage of this fact to maximize your workout and exercise your muscles at least twice a week.
Follow a Rep Speed
This is the speed or rate at which you perform your reps. It’s usually denoted by a 3- or 4-digit code, each representing the number of seconds to spend and each stage of your reps. For example, the 3-1-3-0 tempo means you spend 3 seconds lowering the weight, one second holding it on your chest, another three seconds lifting the weight, and zero seconds holding it at the top height.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to go with slower lowering and faster lifting. In weight training, lowering and lifting are termed eccentric and concentric, respectively. It means you’re going to maintain a tempo like 4-1-2-1. Sometimes, your reps’ tempo code isn’t as straightforward as with bicep and tricep workouts with weights. We’re referring to exercises that rely on your body weight. The same speed applies here as when lifting objects.
Vary Rep Tempo
We’ve talked a bit about rep speed and suggested trying the 4-1-2-1 code as a beginner. Well, varying this tempo also increases the effectiveness of your strength exercise. There are a variety of reps you can adopt besides our recommended tempo for beginners, such as forced reps, potted reps, cheat reps, half reps, etc.
Implement High-Intensity Interval Training + High Volume
Though it’s high-intensity, it doesn’t mean you should work out without adequate rest between sessions. According to professional trainers, it means hitting the muscles hard or smashing them. Not literally, of course—this only emphasizes the importance of coupling intensity and volume. You’re going to be limiting the amount of rest for your biceps and triceps (without overdoing it).
Eat More Protein
Protein is the main muscle builder in your diet. It also helps repair damages. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women whose recommended calorie intake ranges from 1600–2000 should consume 46g of protein a day. On the other hand, men who eat 2000–2400 calories daily should generally consume 56g of protein every day.
So, if you want bigger arm muscles, make sure your nutrition includes protein-rich foods such as: seafood, eggs, lean meats, poultry, nuts, lentils, beans, peas, and fruits like guavas, apricots, and avocados. Another good way to meet your DRI of protein is by eating nutritious protein bars.
Stretching the upper arm muscles becomes more important if you work a desk job with long hours. Not doing so may lead to the biceps and tendon becoming shortened and too tight and can rotate your shoulders internally.
To stretch the biceps:
- move your arms behind you, interlace your fingers and make your palms face the floor. You’ll feel a pinch in the shoulder joints.
- stand beside a wall at arm’s length and place the nearest palm on the wall, with your arm fully stretched.
- maintain this position for 30 seconds and do the same with the other arm.
To stretch the triceps:
- raise your arm high above your head and bend the elbow so your hand touches the upper back as low as possible.
- use the other arm to pull your bent elbow towards the back of your head as far as possible.
Muscle Building Arm Workout for Skinny People
You can build bigger arms on a skinny body, but it’s more rational to work on your entire physique instead of isolating the arms. The following exercises will help you reach your goal.
Narrow Dumbbell Press
To perform this routine, follow the outlined steps:
- Grab your dumbbells and lie on a bench.
- Stitch the weights together at your chest and feel the strain in your arm muscles.
- Keeping them together, press the weights upward and contract them hard at the top.
- Do these exercises in three sessions of 8–10 reps.
Here’s how to get bigger arms as a skinny person with this workout routine:
- While doing the narrow dumbbell press, separate the weights by shoulder length at the top and keep them raised for a second.
- Now, lower them gradually until the weights come just behind your head.
- Press them back up.
- Continue for three sessions and 10–12 reps, with a 90-second rest between each session.
To learn how to build arm muscle, it’s best to learn more about the anatomy of the arm and what nutrients are crucial for your muscle mass gain. Couple that knowledge with well-planned workouts, and you’ll be more than satisfied with the results if you’re persistent.
Finally, if you’d like to add more protein to your diet and bulk up faster, feel free to check out our list of top-performing paleo protein powders.
What exercise gives bigger arms?
While many exercises will give you bigger arms, a lot of them aren’t scientifically proven effective. Some of the best exercises include:
- concentration curl
- cable curl
- barbell curl
- triangle push-up
- triceps kickback
- overhead extension.
How can I fix my skinny arms?
In order to tone your arms, first you need to make sure you’re eating enough protein foods like eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, lean meats, seafood, nuts, lentils, beans, etc. Consult a nutritionist or a professional fitness trainer to find out how much protein a day you’ll need to increase your arm size. The recommended intake will depend on factors such as body weight and age.
Secondly, bear in mind that not every type of exercise will lead you to the desired outcome. You have to plan your workout so it will include exercises specifically targeting arm muscles, primarily the biceps and the triceps. Chin-ups, narrow dumbbell press, dumbbell skulls, triangle push-ups are some of the most popular and most effective exercises for that. Just make sure you’re doing them properly to avoid injuries, and refrain from over-training.
Can you get big arms naturally?
Although a lot of people don’t know how to get bigger arms naturally, the gist of the method is actually fairly simple. It revolves around following a healthy diet rich in proteins and doing the right exercises regularly (like the ones we’ve described above). By doing so, you can achieve visible results in about three months, depending on how strictly you adhere to your muscle-building routine.