Most guys I know started lifting weights at an early age because they wanted an impressive set of guns, arms that is! Because that is a pretty much a universal goal for anyone who hits the gym, I’d like to present a three-part series on how to build an awesome set of arms. This week let’s consider some basic principles of effective arm training.
To build your arms, you need to work them twice a week using about two exercises for biceps (front of the upper arms) and three exercises for triceps (rear of the upper arms). I suggest 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise. Triceps require greater effort and attention because they are a larger muscle group making up nearly 75% of your upper arm development. I like to super set biceps and triceps together on the same day. I separate arm training from back and chest training simply because if you really train maximally, your arms will be utilized and “tired out” on back and chest day and you’ll only be giving them your second best.
As with all muscle groups, train arms to fatigue and never to failure. This way you can enjoy the pump and avoid the tendonitis that comes from over-use. There are several biceps and triceps movements which can contribute to tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) in the elbow. If tendonitis sets in, decrease the amount of weight you’re using or better yet, give arms a break and train legs and abs until the inflammation subsides. Be pro-active, ice your elbow, and rub it down with an anti-inflammatory balm before, after, and during workouts. If pain persists for 10 days, consult your physician.
According to bodybuilder and author Robert Kennedy, there are four vital qualities that make up a great arm:
- You need size. This includes thickness and roundness from the top of the arm near the shoulder to the bottom near the elbow.
- You need good shape. This is largely hereditary. You are born with a certain amount of muscle fibers. You cannot increase the number of fibers, but through weight training you can make the ones you have thicker and stronger. To this extent you can shape or sculpt your muscles by the exercises you perform.
- You need separation, the distinct delineation of the various muscles that make up an arm.
- You need vascularity and definition. Here you’re talking about lowering your body fat through diet and cardio as you progressively build quality lean muscle mass with an effective and challenging resistance training program.