Who doesn't want bigger arms? The feeling of stretching your sleeves out is worth every rep (and no it doesn't count if you're wearing t-shirts from the kid's section). If you want to know how to get bigger arms fast, this article and program are definitely for you. So let's let the gains begin!
This article is split into 3 sections:
Feel free to skip to the part you want, although I highly recommend just reading the whole thing. That is, of course, if having bigger arms is a priority for you. And it is, right?
Note: This article contains affiliate links to products I believe in. They come at no additional cost to you.
Principles of Building Bigger Arms
There are 5 main principles that thou must understand if thou seeketh to obtain big, powerful looking arms. Ignore them, and thy arms shall remain small and weak. The program is built on these principles.
**If you're looking for solid programming that has all of this stuff mapped out for you every day, check out SWOLE TOWN. It's free to try, and you'll always have a badass training plan walking into the gym.
1. Foundation Comes First
There is no way around principle number one. If you ignore your foundation, your arms will never get big. Your body just isn't designed that way, and besides... huge arms with a small back, chest and shoulders looks weird, and I don't want you to look weird. I want you to look like a beast.
Big movements like Rows, Deadlifts, Chin ups, Bench and Overhead Presses will still be the staple of a big arms program. These movements alone can build your arms significantly.
This is because the big compound movements allow you to move heavier weight and use more total muscle mass, which will always result in a much bigger physiological response from your body. This means: more testosterone, more growth hormone, and greater protein synthesis. In short, these movements lead to bigger gains in lean muscle mass.
2. The Pump is Real
Getting a massive pump is crucial for muscle growth. Cellular swelling sends a strong signal to the body that can lead to hypertrophy.
The best way to get a pump is by creating metabolic stress in the muscle. Think about how it feels to do multiple sets of 20 rep bicep curls on 30 seconds of rest.
It burns, it hurts, your heart rate goes up. Lactate and other metabolic byproducts accumulate in the muscle. Blood and plasma flow into the muscle. That is metabolic stress, and it is one of the strongest stimulators of hypertrophy.
3. Blood Flow Restriction Bands Work, Use Them
Numerous studies have shown that Occlusion training with blood flow restriction bands (BFR Bands) leads to bigger (and faster) gains in muscle mass.
With BFR Bands, you can:
- Use lighter weight and higher reps
- Stimulate additional fast twitch muscle fibers
- Add volume without the stress of using heavy weight (with the same benefits)
- Stimulate cellular swelling (you will get a massive pump)
Studies also show that using BFR bands leads to growth of nearby muscles as well. So, using them for your arms can also carry over to additional growth in the chest and shoulders as well.
There is no reason (unless you have a medical condition), that someone looking to get bigger arms would not be using BFR bands. Just get them, and thank me later.
Here's a really good pair of BFR bands from amazon for $28.50 (I use these, they've held up for well over a year).
4. Rest and Recovery are Your Friends
Remember, you do not build muscle while you work out. You build muscle and get bigger arms while you rest. Prioritize rest and recovery the same way your prioritize your workouts.
Get adequate protein and calories on rest days, and try to get solid sleep. The faster and more completely you recover from your workouts, the bigger your gains will be. That is a scientifically researched and proven fact. Recovery = adaptation, and adaptation = GAINZ.
5. Thou Must Eat!
Please do not be that guy that wants huge arms but wants to eat salads all day and get "toned." You can't have it both ways. If you want to get bigger arms, you have to eat more. Your body simply will not build muscle without a surplus of calories and adequate protein.
For protein, shoot for around 0.7 grams/pound of body weight. Studies show this is adequate, and more does not result in additional gains, unless you're on anabolic steroids.
The SupaStrong Bigger Arms Program
Now let's get down to business. You wanted to know how to get bigger arms, and here you have landed.
This is split up into 4 training days per week. With the amount of volume you'll be doing, that should be adequate. Remember Principle number 4: Rest is your friend. Don't ignore your friend.
Note: Exercises are often paired in combinations or, "Supersets." These should always be performed by doing the first exercise, then immediately performing the second exercise, before resting. For example, 1A and 1B would be a superset.
Workout A: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
1. Warm Up: 3 Sets
*Start light, it's the warm up.
- 1A - Floor Flyes x 12 Reps
- 1B -Single Arm Bench Press x 10 Reps (add weight each set)
Sets: 3 - Rest: 60 seconds
2. Superset: Chest/Triceps - 3 Sets
Hit 3 reps of explosive depth push ups, then go straight to the bench. Work up to the heaviest set of 7 reps you can on the close grip bench. Try to get there by your 4th set. Record your 7 rep max.
- 2A - Depth Push Ups x 3 reps
- 2B - Close Grip Bench Press x 7 reps
Sets: 3 Rest: 2 mins
3. Superset: Chest/Triceps/Shoulders - 3 Sets
- 3A - Dips: Max Reps (as many as you can get with good form)
- 3B - Plate Front Raise x 12-15 Reps (slow and controlled reps)
Sets: 3 - Rest: 60-90 Seconds
4. BFR Triceps: 10 Mins
Time to strap on your BFR bands. Your triceps will try to talk you out of it. Don't let them. You must grow them by force. Go for 10 minutes, resting only when you have to.
- 4A - Banded Triceps Extensions x max reps (burn 'em out)
- 4B - Lateral Triceps Extensions x 15-25 Reps (burn 'em)
Sets: 10 Minutes, Keep Moving - Rest: As Little as Possible
Workout B: Back/Biceps
1. Warm Up: x 3 Sets
- Reverse Shrugs x 10 Reps
- Banded Good Mornings x 10 Reps
*Reverse Shrugs are a great movement for the middle and lower traps. Lower your body by bringing your shoulders up to your ears. Then, focus on using your upper back to pull your shoulders down, raising your body up.
Sets: 3 - Rest: 60 Seconds
2. Superset: Back/Biceps - 3 Sets
Hit a heavy set of 5 reps on the deadlift, then immediately bang out a max rep set of chin ups. Rest 2 minutes and repeat for 3 sets
- 2A - Deadlift x 5 Reps
- 2B - Chin Ups x Max Reps
Sets: 3 - Rest: 2 mins
3. Superset: Back - 3 Sets
- 3A - Dumbell Rows x 8-10 Reps (Go heavy or go home...)
- 3B - Seated Curls x 8-10 Reps
Sets: 3 - Rest: 90 Seconds
4. BFR: Biceps/Rear Delts - 10 Minutes
Strap your BFR bands on and get your mind right. Your biceps are going to be begging for mercy, but mercy is for the weak. Go for 10 Minutes, resting only when you have to. Then, take the bands off and marvel at the PUMP.
- 4A - Plate Curls x 15-25 Reps
- 4B - Rear Delt Raises x 15-20 Reps
- 4C - Reverse Curls w/empty barbell x 15-20 Reps
Workout C: Leg Day
I know you're here for bigger arms, but it's unholy to ignore your legs. Plus, I don't want you to look ridiculous. Don't be that guy, with a big upper body and pathetic looking legs. You're better than that.
1. Warm Up
Get a good full body warm up. Do some light cardio, body squats, whatever you need to do to.
2. Squat: 3 x 5, + 1 x 20
Can squatting make your arms bigger? Yes. The big release of testosterone and growth hormone will affect the growth of all muscle tissue, not just your legs. Plus, your body's smart. Bigger legs can support more upper body muscle.
Hit 3 heavy sets of 5 reps, then strip some weight off and hit a set 20. It will not be fun, but sets like this will have you needing new jeans in no time.
Sets: 3 x 5, 1 x 20 - Rest: 2 Mins
3. Hip Bridge: 4 x 10-12
Sets: 4 - Rest: 90 Seconds
BFR Legs: Walking Lunges; 3 x 30
Strap 'em on, and get ready for some suffering.
Sets: 3 - Rest: 90 Seconds
Workout D: Shoulders/Chest/Arms
1. Warm Up: 3 Sets
- 1A - Empty barbell overhead press x 10 reps
- 1B - Band Pull-aparts x 12-15 reps
Sets: 3 - Rest: 60 Sec
Standing Press: 3 sets, 5 reps
Hit 3 heavy sets of 5 on the Press. Reach the heaviest set of 5 that you can.
Sets: 3 - Rest: 2 mins
3. Superset: Shoulders/Chest x 3 sets
- 3A - Arnold Press x 12-15 Reps
- 3B - Deficit Push ups x max reps (if you have to stop to rest more than 1 second, end set)
Sets: 3 - Rest: 90 Seconds
4. Superset: Chest/Shoulders x 3 Sets
- 4A - Hex Press x 15 reps - squeeze the dumbells together the entire time
- 4B - Lateral Raise x 15
Sets: 3 - Rest: 90 Seconds
BFR Arms Circuit: 10 Minutes
Bring the pain. End your week by reminding your arms who they work for. This will be brutal, the pump will be real. You wanted to know how to get bigger arms... So get after it. Rest only when you have to.
- 5A - Plate Curls x 20 reps
- 5B - Overhead Triceps Ext. x 15-20
- 5C - Reverse Curls x 20
- 5D - Banded Triceps Ext. x 20-30
Time: 10 Mins - Rest: Only when you have to
Tips on How to Get Bigger Arms
1. Squeeze the antagonist muscle on each rep
The antagonist muscle is the opposing muscle to the one being worked. For example, when performing a bicep curl, squeeze the tricep at the bottom of the lift. This will fully extend the arm, and will create extra tension in both the biceps and triceps. Tension stimulates growth. See where I'm going with this?
2. Get Stronger
With regards to the big lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, etc..), aim to get stronger every week. Try to hit your sets of 5 with heavier weight. Getting stronger is going to lead to big gains in muscle mass.
3. Use Appropriate Resistance
When a program says "do 3 sets of 12," that means you should be using a weight that is challenging for 12 reps. Not a weight you can easily knock out 12 reps with. If you can add weight and still get 12, then add weight. Force your body to grow.
4. Use BFR Bands
Don't skip over this part of the program. BFR has been proven by research to work. During high rep sets, the slow twitch muscle fibers will not be able to keep up with limited blood supply. This will lead to the fast twitch fibers taking over. Normally this would only happen with heavy weight. You'll also get a massive pump. There's really no downside here.
5. Keep Rest Short
On everything but the big lifts/low rep sets, keep the rest short. Don't spend 5 minutes on your phone between sets. Short rest between sets causes metabolic stress within the muscle. Metabolic stress (the burning you feel) is a huge precursor to muscle growth, and gives you a massive pump. Stick to the rest periods.
6. Use Resistance Bands
To really force your muscles to grow, you need a lot of volume. This can lead to a lot of wear and tear on your joints. Bands allow you to add a lot of additional volume, without that added stress.
Resistance bands also offer ascending resistance. This means that as your stretch the band, the resistance increases. Since a lot of people are weakest at the end range of motion of most movements, this can be really beneficial.
7. Eat More
Your body needs additional resources to build muscle. There is no way around it. Not only protein, but carbs as well. If your goal is bigger arms, don't be the guy (or girl) hopping on the latest fad diet trying to lose weight. Just eat.. a lot. High quality, whole foods, complete proteins. Shoot for around 0.7 grams per pound of body weight in protein.
8. Take Recovery Seriously
Your muscles don't grow when you work out. They grow when you rest. Treat your rest/recovery days with the same level of priority as your training days. Get some solid calories and protein in both before and after you work out. Get good sleep. Learn how to relax. When the body is relaxed, it will repair and build muscle tissue.
9. Focus on BIG MOVEMENTS for bigger arms
The big lifts: Deadlift, Squat, Press, Bench Press, Pull up; are the foundation of any lifting program. Doing endless curls is not going to grow your arms nearly as effectively as a solid program incorporating the big lifts.
I'll say it again:
10. Keep a Workout Journal
Keeping a log of your workouts is imperative. You need to be able to look back and see if you're getting stronger. You need to be able to see how much volume you've been doing, so you can add more when growth starts to slow down.
Anyone who is serious about their training keeps some type of workout journal. It takes a few minutes per day and is very valuable. So, do it!
The path to bigger arms involves some suffering and sacrifice. If it didn't, everyone would would walking around jacked. Who doesn't want bigger, stronger looking arms?
I hope this article helped shed some light on how to get bigger arms, and a bigger stronger body overall.
Try this program out for 8 weeks, and let me know how it worked out!
As always, I hope this helps you get a little closer to that best version of you!