Bodybuilders in muscle magazines or websites often claim their arm specialization routines can help you gain inches on your arms in no time at all. But you should be skeptical about these claims. According to strength coach Charles Poliquin, your arm size is related to your overall muscle mass, and you need to gain approximately 15 pounds of muscle for every inch you want to gain on your arms. It is difficult to ascertain how long it would take to gain 2 inches on your arms, but a muscle mass gaining routine with extra work on your arms should help you increase your arm girth.
Figuring Out Your Genetics
Genetic factors such as your body type play a role in determining your arm size. For example, if you are an ectomorph with long stringy muscles, and find it difficult to gain weight or muscle, it would take you much longer to increase your arm size than a mesomorph or endomorph. Mesomorphs are athletic and strongly built and gain muscle easily. Endomorphs are rotund and gain muscle quickly, though the muscle is covered with easily gained fat.
You Must Get Bigger
Base your muscle-gaining program on multi-joint compound exercises that target your major muscles while simultaneously working secondary muscles. For example, the barbell bench press works your chest, anterior deltoids and triceps. Barbell bent-over-rows and pull-ups work your upper back and biceps. Military presses hit your shoulders and triceps and barbell squats work your quadriceps, butt and hamstrings. Work out three days a week, using heavy weights for three to five sets of six to 12 reps.
Triceps To Die For
Your triceps make up about two-thirds of your upper arms, and you should work them intensely to build bigger arms. Two mass-building triceps exercises are close-grip bench presses and bar dips. To do the close grip bench press, use a grip with your hands about 10 inches apart and emphasize your triceps by keeping tight to your body as you lower the bar. When performing dips, emphasize your triceps by keeping your body upright. Isolate your triceps with lying triceps extensions also called skull crushers.
Work Those Biceps
According to exercise physiologist Chad Waterbury, as your biceps are designed to work with your forearms and upper back, they respond better to exercises that simultaneously challenge all three muscles. Three such exercises are neutral grip pull-ups using a Double-D attachment, chin-ups or reverse-grip pull-ups, and reverse-grip barbell bent-over rows. When performing bent-over rows, keep your body almost parallel to the floor with bent knees and straight back. Use a weight that allows you to do the exercise with correct technique and squeeze your biceps as you pull the bar to your lower chest.
Arms to Shock and Awe
A superset is a pair of back-to-back exercises without rest between sets. It increases your workout intensity and provides your biceps and triceps with a different growth-inducing stimulus. For example, do skull crushers for your triceps followed immediately with barbell curls for your biceps. Rest for 90 seconds then repeat the pair of exercises three more times for four sets. After a two-minute rest, do another four sets of supersets, pairing triceps pushdowns with sitting dumbbell curls.
Train Hard, Train Smart
Performing a full body workout, do your muscle-mass gaining routine together with your triceps and biceps exercises twice a week on non-consecutive days. After a warm-up set with a light weight, use heavy weights for three sets of six to 12 reps per exercise. Increase your weight once you can do 12 reps. With bodyweight exercises such as dips and chin-ups, add resistance by attaching a weight to a dipping belt, or have a training partner place a dumbbell between your crossed ankles. Constantly challenging your muscles with increased loads induces growth. Do your arm only superset workout on the third day. Adequate rest between workouts is essential. Your muscles grow on your rest days away from the gym. Spending more days in the gym won't make your arms grow faster.
- Poliquin: Bigger Stronger Arms-The Poliquin Way
- Poliquin: The Top Seven Biceps Movements
- Chad Waterbury: The 3 Best Biceps Exercises
- Muscle and Fitness: Complete Guide To Gaining One Inch In One Day
- Muscle and Strength: Muscle Building Expert Guide: Learn How To Build Muscle Mass
- Center For Wellness Without Borders: The 3 Somatotypes
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images