Translated by Norbert Ádám
If there’s one muscle group that an aspiring bodybuilder and an average gym-goer alike like to train, it’s the arms. Even before we immediately start the “biceps with a bar” exercise, don’t forget that two-thirds of our upper arms are actually made up of our triceps.
In the next article, we will break down which muscles to focus on and describe the 6 best biceps and triceps building exercises that can be used to increase the mass of our upper arms.
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How are our biceps built?
The muscle mass in our upper arms is made up of 2 main muscle groups – biceps and triceps. Of the two, the mass of the biceps is smaller, but we often pay more attention to it in the gym.
Big biceps were made popular by bodybuilding legends like Larry Scott.
How to increase the mass of the biceps?
Building biceps requires a combination of complex, multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises—while using heavy weights and performing flawless, quality reps (ie, the amount of weight used doesn’t come at the expense of execution).
With the right exercises, we can target and build different parts of the biceps.
Biceps builder 1: tight grip pull-ups
Now, of course, everyone is thinking, “Pull-ups are an exercise, aren’t they?” Well, yes, but a multi-joint exercise that also works our biceps.
As a result of the tight grip, we can use more weight, while the range of motion also increases. As a result, we can work a large mass of muscle fibers with this exercise, thus guaranteeing growth.
How to do tight pull-ups?
- Stand facing the pull-up bar and hold it shoulder-width apart (or narrower), with your palms facing you!
- Let’s hang in the starting position with the arm fully extended – this way we can maximize the range of motion.
- Pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar, while concentrating on doing as much work as possible with your biceps! At the top point, tense it for a moment, then slowly lower yourself down to the starting position!
- A range of 6 to 12 reps is best for building biceps. Do 3-4 sets 1-2 times a week!
If you feel the exercise is too easy with your body weight, then use extra weights!
Biceps Builder 2: Hammer biceps
An exercise called hammer biceps is like a simple dumbbell curl, only with your palms facing each other instead of up. In this position, our forearm muscles also receive a significant load, and we are able to move larger weights.
How to do hammer biceps?
- Grab a dumbbell and hang your arms close to your body! Our palms should face our body! This is the starting position.
- Bend your arms and lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders until your biceps are fully contracted! Let’s stretch it here for a few seconds! Make sure your elbows don’t move away from your body!
- Let’s start lowering the dumbbells slowly until we reach the starting position! Repeat until you reach the desired number of repetitions!
- The exercise can be done with alternate arms or with both arms at the same time! It is usually more difficult to do both arms at the same time, because you have to concentrate in several directions.
- The ideal repetition range for bulking is 8-12. Do 3-4 sets 2-3 times a week!
Biceps Builder 3: Scott Biceps
This exercise became famous thanks to Larry Scott, former Mr. Olympia, because he used this exercise to build his nearly 50 cm arms.
This exercise is ideal for isolating the biceps and eliminating possible swing. By fixing the elbow, it also provides a great opportunity to fully stretch the muscle at the bottom dead point of the exercise.
The exercise can be performed with a French bar, a straight bar, a dumbbell or a pulley.
How to perform the Scott biceps exercise?
- Place a bench in front of the auger machine, then fit a French bar, straight bar or even one-handed pliers to the cable!
- Let’s stand behind the bench so that our upper arms and elbows rest firmly on the bench! Grab the bar/cable/tongs and extend your arms fully! This is our starting position.
- Bend your arms and move the weight towards your shoulders! At the top of the movement, tense your biceps, then slowly lower them back to the starting position!
- Let’s repeat the movement! Make sure that your shoulders do not move and that your arms are fully extended in the starting position of the exercise!
- Let’s start with smaller weights!
How are our triceps built?
If we want bigger arms, we must pay attention to our triceps. Our triceps make up about two-thirds of the weight of our upper arms, so with proper care, the circumference of our upper arms can begin to grow spectacularly.
The triceps has 3 heads: long, middle and outer. This muscle group originates on our shoulder blades and attaches to the back of our forearms near the elbows.
How to increase the mass of the triceps?
When this muscle group is sufficiently developed, the muscle fibers can also be seen. As with the biceps, maximizing its mass requires both multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises.
Triceps builder 1: Triceps stretch overhead with hand dumbbells
There are many exercises where the triceps plays a secondary role in execution – narrow presses, overhead presses, push-ups, etc. However, the overhead triceps stretch with dumbbells puts our triceps in the spotlight.
The arm extension can be done sitting, standing or lying down (on a horizontal, positive or negative bench).
The most important thing is the full range of motion, in order to avoid injuries, we should use less weight, but do not reduce our range of motion.
How to perform the overhead triceps stretch?
- Grab a dumbbell and sit on the edge of a bench. Our abdominal muscles should be stretched all the way to keep our torso stable!
- Hold the weight with both hands and press it above your head! This is our starting position.
- Without moving your upper arm, bend your elbow and lower the barbell as far as you can! At full extension, stop for a few seconds, then extend your arm until you return to the starting position!
- Let’s repeat the exercise!
Triceps builder 2: Push-ups
Push-ups are the most effective exercise if our goal is to activate the entire mass of the triceps – that is, the long, middle and outer heads.
It is a perfect bodyweight exercise to increase the mass of the arms, which can be done on a bench or a push-up machine. And while it’s a simple bodyweight exercise, it’s not easy.
How to procrastinate?
- Sit on the edge of a horizontal bench, and place your hands on the edge, next to your hips! Put your feet forward so that your hips are in front of the bench! This is our starting position.
- Let’s start the movement by bending our elbows and lowering our body as far as we can! To keep the triceps under as much tension as possible, lower yourself slowly!
- Stop at the bottom dead center, then push yourself back to the starting position!
- Let’s repeat the exercise!
Triceps builder 3: Push-ups on a pulley
Pull-downs and their variations are among the best exercises if your goal is to increase the mass of your triceps.
How do we carry out the downswing on an auger?
- Let’s fit a straight or bent rod or rope to a worm machine and grab it! The elbows should be close to the body! This is the starting position.
- Let’s stand straight, elbows next to the body, with the tongs in our hands!
- With the help of our triceps, we press down the pliers until it touches our thighs and our arms are fully extended! The upper arm and body remain motionless, only the forearm moves.
- Hold it in this contracted state for a few seconds before slowly releasing it back to the starting position!
- Let’s repeat the exercise!
Let’s make a note!
If we want to increase the mass of our arms, we must devote considerable time to building the muscles here. A combination of compound and isolation exercises is required to achieve the desired effect.
Always pay attention to proper execution and use the largest possible weights in addition to perfect form! If we train properly, we will soon be able to buy new T-shirts…