A I recently wrote in Man’s World, you will find it most difficult to increase your arm size to any noticeable degree unless you increase your bodyweight, and the only way to increase your bodyweight is to eat and drink a little more each day. Make sure that you consume an adequate amount of protein, which is necessary for increased muscular growth.
Single repetitions do not increase blood supply to the muscle being exercised to any marked degree, consequently, not enough nourishment is carried in the blood to overload he muscle with food for increased growth. Single repetitions greatly activate ligaments and tendons, but not the muscle fibers in the belly of the muscle which is necessary to create hypertrophy of the muscle fibers.
Experience has shown that five repetitions or more activate the muscle fibers which determine increases in muscle size. However, experience has also shown that around 10 repetitions are best for beginning bodybuilders, because 10 repetitions enable the lifter to use a weight he can handle comfortably without any excess effort, and also because the greater number of repetitions also activates the willpower and respiratory system as well as the muscular system to an ideal degree. Beginners should therefore perform an exercise with weight which will enable them to perform 10 repetitions comfortably without any undue strain, and yet not so light as to be ridiculously easy.
Since this article is concerned with developing bigger arms, let me first deal with beginners. Experienced trainees or instructors usually start beginners with one exercise for each of the major muscle groups, with the exception of those beginners who are heavy around the stomach and waist, being given more than one exercise for this area. I also subscribe to this policy. If your waist and stomach is fat or flabby, you would be wise to start your exercise routine with exercises for that part of your body. Beginners are then given thigh, chest and back exercises in that order, because these areas are usually stronger than the arms and shoulders, and therefore allow beginners to use heavier poundages if done first, thereby building up a beginner’s confidence.
As regards arm exercises for the beginner, I believe that the barbell biceps curl and dumbell triceps curl are, if not the best, at least as good as any others. Select weights which will allow you to perform 10 repetitions of each exercise, work up the sets until you are doing four sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, at which stage increase the poundage on the two exercises 5 pounds each, and on your next workout come as close as possible to 4 sets of 10 reps. Each time you are able to perform 4x10 on either the barbell biceps curl or dumbell triceps curl, increase the poundage by 5 lbs. for your next workout.
After a few months of bodybuilding, depending upon your aims and ambitions, your instructor would usually give you a completely new course, and with it not one biceps and one triceps exercise but two exercises for each group. This intermediary group I would normally give sitting two dumbell curls (4x8) followed by middle incline dumbell curls (4x8). The biceps exercises would be followed by two triceps exercises, firstly lying on flat bench barbell triceps curls (4x8), and then triceps pressdowns on lat machine (4x8). Again, each time you are able to perform four sets of eight repetitions of each exercise increase the weight by 5 lbs. for your next workout.
As your bodybuilding aims become higher, obviously you have to work harder, until, believe it or not, you are performing from 20-30 sets of both biceps and triceps three workouts per week. You can, if you wish, perform biceps and triceps at the same training session. Personally, I prefer to work back and biceps together in one workout, and shoulders and triceps together in another workout, but this is purely a matter of preference. If you are really ambitious, try the following biceps and triceps exercises three sessions a week.
1.) One dumbell curl over bench – 10 sets of 8.
2.) Lying on back dumbell curl – 6 sets of 8.
3.) Barbell curl – 5 sets of 5.
4.) Two dumbell curl over bench – 6 sets of 8.
1.) Triceps pressdown on lat machine – 6 sets of 8.
2.) Flat bench EZ triceps curl, head off bench – 6 sets of 8.
3.) Decline bench barbell triceps curl – 6 sets of 8.
4.) Standing one dumbell one arm triceps curl – 6 sets of 8.
5.) Triceps dips – 6 sets of 8.
Keep your arms warm when exercising, with either a track suit top or long sleeve T-shirt, but make sure they are not too tight. If your gains are not as good as you expect, increase your bodyweight by eating more protein.
The rest period between sets should be sufficient to allow your breathing to return to normal, then immediately perform the next set. Use as much poundage as you can, but be sure you can complete the required number of reps, and if you are unable to do so do not be afraid to drop the poundage for the remaining sets. I personally prefer to use heavier poundages on each set, so obviously I start fairly light, but on the lighter weights I make sure my performance is very strict. Having completed the one dumbell curl over bench, I still start the lying on back two dumbell curl fairly light and build up each set, because each exercise has a varying affect and strain on the muscle being exercised, and by starting each exercise light I am able to avoid any muscular strain.