6 Awesome Arm Exercises You Need to Start Doing
Building big arms (or “guns”) is pretty much the initial dream of every male who enters the gym. Much to the chagrin of these gym goers, basic exercises like barbell curls and tricep press-downs only go so far, especially as they progress. But fear not, as we have compiled a list of effective, unconventional arm exercises that are sure to provide some new bicep and tricep growth!
Nothing says, “Wow, that guy must be a bada$$!” like having thick, muscular arms. After all, the go-to pose for pretty much every gym goer and bodybuilder alike is the front double biceps pose. Moreover, when you’re out and about in the “real world,” clothing is usually warranted, leaving only your arms exposed. It’s no surprise then, really, that so many guys focus on building a nice set of “guns” to show off in public.
Unfortunately though, basic exercises like barbell and dumbbell curls can be monotonous for training biceps. On the same token, there are only so many ways to do tricep press-downs. As one progresses in the gym, lack of arm exercise variety can lead to stagnation and disinterest in training biceps and triceps at all.
Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this article will cover six fantastic, lesser-known arm exercises to spur new growth and reinvigorate your training routine!
THE TATE PRESS
This unconventional triceps exercise is named after Dave Tate, a prestigious power-lifter. At first glance, this movement looks rather awkward, but once you try it you’ll be amazed at how effective it is.
• Lie back on a flat bench (or the floor) with dumbbells in each hand.
• Extend your arms over your chest, much like you would when performing a dumbbell press.
• Point your elbows out and flex them towards your chest to lower the weights; your arms should make an L-shape at the bottom of the movement.
• Extend the elbows, making sure not to bounce the weights off your chest. Repeat as necessary.
Spider curls are essentially preacher curls with an enhanced range of motion, allowing for even greater biceps stimulation. Focusing on your form is especially crucial for this movement to be effective. Use a slow, controlled tempo and don’t overdo the weight.
• Using an elevated preacher-curl bench (or a standard incline bench), grab an EZ-curl bar or pair of dumbbells and rest your elbows on the flat/vertical side of the preacher curl apparatus. Rest your chest against the opposite side of the padding.
• Let your arms hang fully extended against the padding, and curl the weight up towards your chest, just like you would with conventional preacher curls.
• Pause briefly at the top for maximum contraction, then slowly lower the weight back down until your arms are fully extended again. Repeat as necessary.
CABLE SPIDER CURLS
This overlooked movement allows you to target the biceps at an angle, unlike any other movement. The top of the contraction will look like you’re performing a front double biceps pose.
• Attach two single-hand grips to each side of a cable machine.
• Stand between them and hold one cable in each hand, much like you would when performing cable flyes for your chest.
• Raise your arms out to 90 degrees and elbows extended, level with the top of your shoulders.
• Curl the cables toward your ears and hold the contracted position for 2 to 3 seconds before lowering back to the starting position.
SINGLE-ARM OVERHEAD DUMBBELL EXTENSIONS
Most people perform this movement with an EZ-bar or only one dumbbell. Using one dumbbell per hand allows for greater range of motion and an increased focus on contraction in each arm.
• Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
• Extend the weights over your chest with palms facing each other.
• Lower the weights just behind the top of your head by flexing/bending the elbows.
• Complete the movement by extending the weight back above your chest. Repeat as necessary.
REVERSE-GRIP BARBELL CURL
Reverse-grip barbell curls are a fantastic complement to regular-grip curls as they primarily target the biceps brachialis (the long head of the biceps) and brachioradialis. You will notice these are much more challenging than conventional barbell curls, and your grip is a large factor in how much weight you will be able to use.
• Hold a barbell with an overhand/pronated grip at about shoulder width.
• Keeping your upper arms against your sides, curl the bar towards your chest until arms are fully contracted.
• Slowly lower the weight back to starting position. Repeat as necessary.
These are a superb variation of standard push-ups and rely heavily on the pressing power of your triceps. Make sure to not flare your elbows out to the side but rather towards your hips; this activates the triceps significantly more.
• Get into push-up position with your hands adjacent to each other; touch your index fingers together to form a diamond shape with your hands.
• Brace your abs and torso, and lower your body so that chest is slightly above the ground.
• Hold the movement at the bottom briefly, then explode up by pressing against the floor through the palms of your hands. Repeat as necessary.
SAMPLE ARM TRAINING ROUTINE
A. Barbell Curls: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
B. Tricep Press-down: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
A. Spider Curls: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
B. Tate Press: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
A. Cable Side Curls: 3 Sets of 12-15 Reps
B. Diamond Push-ups: 3 Sets of 12-15 Reps
C. Reverse-Grip Barbell Curls: 3 Sets of 12-15 Reps
D. Single-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extensions: 3 Sets of 12-15 Reps
Perform these in a superset fashion (A→B) to increase intensity and blood flow to the muscles. SuperSets are great for arm training since the biceps antagonize the triceps. Once you’ve completed three Sets of the first superset exercises, move onto the second superset and so forth.
Rest for 10-15 seconds when you finish exercise “A” and then perform exercise “B”. Once this routine becomes easier, you can add a fourth set to all exercises and/or increase the weight. Remember to use a weight that keeps you in the 8-15 rep range as this will help maximize muscle hypertrophy.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.