When it comes to building great looking arms, we want it to be simple, but often it’s not. Or, to put it more accurately, it is sorta simple, but people just don’t know what they don’t know.
And this leads a lot of us to think that having nice looking arms if you’re a gal, or crazy shredded gunz if you’re a guy reading this, just isn’t possible. Or, maybe it is, but it’s too much trouble or it’s not a goal that’s meant for us.
The problem with that is that it’s simply not true. It’s taking the easy way out. It’s not admitting that you probably can improve your arms (no matter where they’re at now), but you just have to put yourself out there and do a little research – and read good info on how to train correctly for your goals.
Hence the reason you’re here. So let’s get started.
I will make one other comment before we begin. If you’re a woman or a guy trying to improve the look of your arms, all of these techniques will work. Just keep in mind that if you’re a lady, you’re not gonna develop crazy hulk arms with these tips. And for all the dudes? If you want crazy hulk arms, well, you’re gonna have to work.
So here we go.
1. If you’re not already Lifting Heavy Weights, use Heavier Weights
Depending on where you are now as far as strength, you don’t have to be the strongest guy or gal in the gym, but the goal is to use heavier weights than you previously have been.
The guideline to use is to look your reps and your intensity. So, if you’re doing a lot of sets with reps that are above 10-12 (like 12-15 in particular) and the intensity of your sets isn’t very high (think a 6 out of 10), then you definitely need to throw in some heavier sets or even days where you focus on increasing the weight until you get to a point where you can only do between 6 and 10 reps per set.
In fact, even if you’re currently doing your arm exercises with high reps and the intensity is high, you still need to use heavier weights because you will increase the load and intensity of the exercises and you’ll also hit more fast twitch fibers – which will be the muscles that you really want to grow – in order to see a visual difference in the appearance of your arms.
2. If you’re already Using Heavy Weights, include Lighter Weights too
This sounds like it’s contradicting the above tip, but the truth is just the opposite. Both of these tips are important and you need them both. The basic idea is that in order to maximize how good your arms look, you need to challenge the muscles in different ways.
Hence, if you’re not already also using lighter weights at high reps, you need to include this approach as well. As far as the science goes, the rationale behind using both heavy and light weights (and the lower and higher rep ranges associated with each), isn’t too complicated.
In your muscles you have something called sarcoplasm that is a softer almost gelatinous substance that increases in size due to using lower weights and higher reps. At the same time, you also find something called myofibrils in your muscles. This is also a structure that responds to weight training, but typically more so it’s heavy weight training that causes this part of the muscle to get bigger (resulting in hulk mode for men, and “sexy toned arms mode” for women).
So again, as mentioned in number Tip 1 above, lighter weight sets would be using a weight that you could complete 12-15 (or more) reps for per set.
3. Use a Variety of Exercises to get Better Arms
This one is huge, and will work for everyone. If you’re not already including variety, definitely start. And if you are including a variety of exercises, keep it up and then add more.
The reason for this is really simple: different exercises and types of resistance challenge the muscle in different ways and can result in greater growth and development of different parts of the muscles. So what does it mean to you?
You gotta use as many different types of exercises so cables, bar free weights, dumbbells, suspension straps, bands, and even your own body weight, among other things. When it comes to strength, often times you can improve with a relatively limited number of exercises.
With muscle development and aesthetics (IE making a body part look good), often times the more exercises you can include, the better.
4. Workout your Arms more or Less (Depending on What you’re Currently Doing)
Often when it comes to working out, we try one program we think will work, when we should actually be doing the opposite. In other cases, the workout routine can be effective, but it still needs to be changed eventually. And that’s where many people get tripped up.
If you’re currently doing something that’s not working – or even if it’s working great – there is still a need to change your routine. You cannot get results from doing the same thing forever. Even a great routine will only work for so long and if you think your routine that was previously working seems to be less effective, it may just be time to switch things up.
A simple example (and tip) for arm workouts is to flip your current workout on it’s head and work out more times per week if you’re only working them once (or perhaps zero…) times per week. The other flip to make is to actually try cutting down on the frequency of your arm workouts if you’ve been working them out 2-3 times per week for a while now.
Your body will thank you by responding to the change and amping up your arm aesthetics.
5. Add Supplemental Arm Work at the End of your Workouts
If you don’t currently workout your arms enough, then adding a day or two where you work your other muscles but also add in some arm exercises at the end of your workout can be very effective. The idea here is that you’re getting extra specialized specific work on your arms versus doing a full workout.
For some people who can’t handle (or don’t have the time for) multiple full arm workouts per week, or those who maybe are backing off on their arm workouts but want to find a convenient way to still get some arm work in, this approach can be great.
An example might be doing between 2 and 4 exercises at the end of the workout, going back and forth between one bicep exercise and one tricep exercise for a couple sets each, all while using limited rest.
One of the other benefits of doing your arm work at the end of a workout where you start with your other bigger muscle groups is that the entire body is warmed up, and studies have even actually shown that the hormones released from working the bigger muscles can contribute to an increase in arm muscle growth above and beyond what you might see working the arms in a workout unto themselves.