Building an impressive, muscular set of upper arms is usually at the top of most lifter’s priorities at the gym. The biceps and triceps are considered a “showy” muscle group and there isn’t a single serious bodybuilder out there who doesn’t want to develop these muscles to their full potential.
In this article, I’m going to give you a no-fluff, straight-to-the-point overview of proper arms training along with some highly effective bicep and tricep workouts that you can start using right away.
When structuring your bicep and tricep workouts, always keep in mind that these are relatively small muscle groups and that they are already hit very hard during all of your compound chest and back training.
1. Cable-Rope Tricep Extension:
Reps: 11-15 Sets: 3
- Attach a cable rope to a cable machine at the highest position and set it to a comfortable weight.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, about one to two feet away from the machine, and grasp the individual rope ends in each hand.
- While keeping your elbows tucked tightly to your torso, extend your arms downward until you’ve reached your maximum extension.
- Then slowly bring your arms back up, focusing on squeezing your triceps as you do so.
Reps: 8-12 Sets: 3-5
- Grab a couple of your dumbbells (lighter is better for this exercise since the form is the most important part of completing this set) and lay down on a weight bench.
- Push your shoulder blades together, tighten your core, and place your arms perpendicular to your body and the floor.
- While maintaining the position of your upper arm (with elbows always directly above your shoulders), use your forearms to slowly lower the dumbbells until they reach the level of your ears.
- Once there, slowly lift the dumbbells back up to vertical.
- While performing this movement, focus on contracting the triceps throughout.
3. Dumbbell Kickbacks:
Reps: 8-10 (per arm) Sets: 3-4
- Select a dumbbell that weighs the same as what you use for bicep curls.
- Position yourself on a weight bench so that your left knee and left hand are in alignment on the bench with your right leg on the floor and right arm grasping a dumbbell.
- Straighten your back, tighten your core, slightly bend your right leg, and lift your arm so that your upper arm is parallel and alongside your torso with your forearm perpendicular to the floor.
- Keep your elbow tucked and raise your forearm backward until your arm is fully extended back and parallel with your body.
- Once you reach this point, slowly lower your forearm until is it back to perpendicular.
- Repeat for the left with all limb positions mirrored.
Reps: 4-6 Sets: 4-5
- Using an overhand grip, grasp the bar with your arms shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your arms close to your body, a tight core, and straight legs, use your arms to lift yourself until your chin and head come over the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself back to a full-hanging extension. That’s one rep.
- Repeat while maintaining good form.
- Remember also to not use momentum or a kick of the legs to help you get over the bar — that won’t help your arms, it will just complicate your movement.
5. Diamond Push-Up:
Reps: 10 Sets: 3-4
- Get into a push-up position with your hands positioned on the floor where your index fingers and thumbs touch their respective counterparts to form a “diamond” shape.
- While maintaining a tight core and a straight back, bend your elbows and lower yourself until your torso is just barely above the floor.
- Slowly come back to the starting position, all the while keeping your hands firmly together and centered below your torso.
- The diamond push-up not only carves your triceps but also works your shoulders and chest.
6. Dumbbell Bicep Curl:
Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3-5
- Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand and stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Select a weight that will put you right at muscle failure at the end of this exercise.
- To begin, keep your elbow tucked tightly against your side and your upper arm parallel with your torso.
- Bend your right arm at the elbow, and curl with palms facing up until the weight reaches your shoulder.
- Lower slowly, keeping tension on the muscle before repeating with the left arm.
- Once both arms have completed a dumbbell curl, count one rep.
7. EZ Bar Curls:
Reps: 10-15 Sets: 4-5
- Use a free-weight EZ Bar, set to a weight of around a few dozen pounds less than your bench press.
- Then grab the bar with both hands (palms facing up) and in unison curl your arms until the bar reaches your chest.
- Try to keep your elbows aligned and as close to your sides if possible.
- Make sure to keep a straight back, with shoulders back, and a strong stance.
8. Concentration Curls:
Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3-4
- Sit on a bench with your legs apart and grab a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Let your armrest on your right thigh, while holding it perpendicular to the floor.
- Curl your arm, keeping your elbow placed on your thigh while consciously concentrating on tightening and contracting your bicep.
- Once the dumbbell reaches your shoulder, slowly uncurl your arm, maintaining that same focus on your bicep.
- A lighter weight is generally used for this move because of its limited range of motion and intense focus on one muscle.
Reps: 4-6 Sets: 4-5
- Reach up and grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you) with your arms shoulder-width apart, your core tight, and your legs straight.
- Raise yourself up until your chin reaches the bar using only your arms and specifically your biceps.
- Hold that position for one count and then lower slowly.
- Repeat four to six times for four to five sets.
10. Incline Hammer Curls:
Reps: 12 Sets: 4-5
- Set up a bench at a 45- to a 60-degree angle and lie back with your arms hanging on each side and directly below your shoulders.
- Take a dumbbell in each hand (you’ll want to make these lighter than your bicep curl dumbbells’ by at least five pounds).
- Position it so that your palms are facing inward toward your torso.
- Then, curl your arm, maintaining the inward-facing palm, until the dumbbell reaches your shoulder.
- Release and let down slowly.
- Repeat with the other arm.
- That’s one rep.