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Why You Need Bigger Arms

If there are any constants across the board among all who engage in weight training, the desire for bigger arms is one of them. Combined with a huge yoke and a wide chest, sleeve-stretching arms are the best way to show the world you work out. In addition to their aesthetically pleasing attributes, large guns also aid the lifter in strength-based activities. Total cross sectional area of a muscle group is a major determinant of multiple strength categories for that muscle group as well. Due to changes in lever arm length, larger arms can also provide better leverage in certain lifts. In the end, bigger arms are always better than smaller arms. So how do we make them grow?

stronger triceps

Why Hypertrophy Occurs

First, we must analyze the three mechanisms through which hypertrophy occurs. These three mechanisms are 1) maximal mechanical tension, 2) muscular damage, and 3) metabolic stress. In short, this means that in order to induce the greatest hypertrophy in a muscle, you must maximize the amount of weight lifted, the amount of protein degradation you cause within the muscle, and the amount of metabolic stress you put upon the muscle group.

Another aspect of muscle growth to consider is fiber type. It is known that fast twitch muscle fibers have more potential for growth than slower twitch fibers, although they have growth potential as well. In order to maximally tax all of our fast twitch muscle fibers, we have to engage our highest threshold motor units. This can be achieved with varying methods that cause the greatest mechanical tension within the muscle. Vladimir Zatsiorsky defined three methods for achieving this: 1) max effort method, 2) repetition effort method, and 3) the dynamic effort method.

The Four Week Training Block

Taking all this into consideration, we can come to the conclusion that a program that uses multiple training methods and incorporates varying movements, varying tensions, and varying sets and rep ranges is the best method to induce the greatest possible arm growth. Also, it is important to prioritize our arm growth while maintaining other muscle groups and fitness characteristics. Therefore, we will use a four-week training block that has two training days dedicated specifically to arm growth and two days dedicated to the maintenance of our other body parts. Since the arms are smaller muscle groups, I do not think it is necessary to have—nor do I believe that they can handle—training blocks longer than four weeks when they are being trained with such high intensity, volume, and frequency. Here is the general template for our arm training:

biceps jh

Arm Hypertrophy Template

EXERCISE 1: Explosive lift using accommodating resistance, 3X1 tempo (3-second eccentric, explode up at the bottom of the lift, 1-second contraction at the top), 5 sets of 5-7 reps

EXERCISE 2: Isolation lift with constant tension, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

EXERCISE 3: Major lift with extended intensity using accommodating resistance, 2 sets of 10 reps, 1 set of max reps followed immediately by 1 or 2 drop sets.

EXERCISE 4: Pump exercise with full range of motion and a focused contraction at the top, 3 sets of 15+ reps


Weekly Training  Template


WEDNESDAY: Lower Body Maintenance
SATURDAY: Upper-body Maintenance

READ -> Triphasic Training for Powerlifting


Weeks 1-4 training


Standing Swiss Bar Curls against bands, 3X1 tempo, 5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____


Cable EZ Bar Curls, 8-12____8-12____8-12____
Barbell Curls w/chains, 10____10____Max____Drop____Drop____
Single Arm DB Preacher Curls, 15+____15+____15+____


Close Grip Bench Press against bands, 3X1 tempo, 5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____


Single Arm Overhead DB Extension, 8-12____8-12____8-12____
Dips w/ chains from belt, 10____10____Max____Drop____Drop____
Rope Pressdowns, 15+____15+____15+____



Squats (or box squats), 5____5____5____5____5____

Leg Press, 10____10____10____

Glute Ham Raises or Russian Leans, 5____5____5____5____5____

RDL or Reverse Hypers, 10____10____10____10____

Standing Calf Raises, 50 total reps

Any Abdominal Exercise, 100 total reps



EZ Bar Skull Crushers w/ chains, 3X1 tempo, 5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____


Single Arm Grenade Ball Cable Side Triceps Extension, 8-12____8-12____8-12____
JM Press against Bands, 10____10____Max____Drop____Drop____
Both Arm Overhead Kettlebell/DB Extension, 15+____15+____15+____


Seated Both Arm Chain Curls, 3X1 tempo, 5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____5-7____


Cable Rope Hammer Curls, 8-12____8-12____8-12____
Alternating DB Curls against bands, 10____10____Max____Drop____Drop____
EZ Bar Preacher Curls, 15+____15+____15+____



Incline Bench Press, 5____5____5____5____5____


Pull-ups/Pull-downs, 10____10____10____10____


Face Pulls, 15____15____15____
Any Abdominal Exercise, 100 total reps



There you go—a very simple four-week training block to put some size on your arms. Make sure your nutrition is in check and you are taking in the requisite amount of nutrients necessary for growth.

DO NOT try to do any extra work on top of this or max out on your maintenance days. I know the maintenance days do not seem like much, but that is the point. The training block only lasts four-weeks, so you can suck it up and tone it down a notch on those days. If grip becomes a problem on some of the exercises, you can use chalk or lifting straps. Your forearms will get plenty of work in so there is no need to do any extra. After you finish the four weeks, take your arm training back down to one day a week or as accessories on your other days.

You could do an arm prioritizing block like this probably three or four times a year. Be smart, train hard, and make sure you’ve got plenty of short sleeve shirts to show off your new guns.