“The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her 2 tickets to the gun show” – Ron Burgundy
Experience tells me that the above statement is nonsense. That said, what skinny fella has not dreamed of turning his pea shooters into full on bazooka’s?! I’ve stated on more than one occasion, the classic “show us your muscles” pose is the double bicep flex. That gives me a thought…maybe we should start a new trend where a person only flexes that muscle group of which they are most proud. Though pulling down my pants to flex my glutes might be frowned upon. Yeah, maybe not…
Bigger arms look better in T-Shirts. They offer something for your beloved to grab a hold of when you embrace. They also benefit arm wrestling competitions, should that be your thing. However building bigger arms is not as straight forward as doing endless curls, as the novice in us has no doubt tried (I certainly have). Here are 5 things you need to know about building bigger arms.
When I started lifting weights, my routine consisted of the following – dumbbell curls. That was it. Admittedly I was very young, but looking back, even if it had the required benefit, what on earth would I have looked like?! 2 bulging biceps and nothing else. Even then, my arms still would have looked like water pistols.
The biceps make up roughly a third of the muscle in your upper arm. The remainder is made up of the triceps, or the rear of the upper arm. This group of muscles is shaped like a horse shoe and is made up of 3 heads – long, medial and lateral. Tricep growth makes the arms look thicker and adds width, as well as help accentuate the bicep when properly developed.
Make no mistake, if you want your arms to strectch your shirt sleeves, don’t fall into the newbie mistake of bicep work only. You will also want to avoid getting put off from working the triceps. I used to hate working them and would often leave tricep work if I let my mind quit before my body would. Nowadays, I embrace the pain, picturing the horse shoe look developing with every single rep.
Embrace Compound Movements
Isolation exercises have their place. They allow you to focus on a particular muscle group, assisting the mind-muscle connection when performing reps. However, they do not offer the same growth potential as compound movements.
Compound exercises allow for an increase in the release of growth hormone and testosterone. Testosterone is a sex hormone and is a natural anabolic steroid (natural when produced by the body, not when injected with a syringe). It helps build muscle during puberty and keeps muscle strong during adulthood. This study showed that an increase in testosterone release increases the potential of building bigger muscles.
For those looking for something simple to aid the increase in arm girth, you can’t go far wrong with bodyweight exercises. Push ups & chin ups offer more than enough resistance and variation to provide good results. As an added benefit, these can be done in the comfort of behind closed doors. Pull ups especially have been an ‘achilles heel’ of mine over the years, and purchasing this pull up bar allowed me to work negatives and build up slowly wiithout the fear of being judged. If your gym has it, a pull up machine with an assisted box is just as helpful.
Don’t forget the Forearms
Bruce Lee was known for showing off his forearms to any woman he found attractive. Former physical training instructor of the Soviet special forces, Pavel Tsatsouline suggested that along with the core, grip strength (primarily down to the forearms) is the most important strength attribute a person can develop. Heck, even the spinach Popeye used to chug down turned his forearms into anvils! And they helped win the affections of Olive Oil…win-win.
Forearm and grip strength is essential in building bigger arms, both upper and lower. Pretty much every isolation move for biceps and triceps requires your hand gripping a bar of some degree. Any back activities (pull ups, rows, pull downs) will see the grip go first, thus limiting how much you can stress the back and biceps. On top of that, there is also links between a strong grip and a decrease in the risk of heart disease (study).
There are a number of things that can be done to increase grip strength (which in turn, adds to the forearm girth). These grippers by Iron Mind are high in quality and offer a training program to help increase the resistance. Available to use on the go, 5 x 5 sets a day will do wonders in working through the resistance. Secondly, grip the bar on any lift as though you are trying to make it crumble in your hands. Some lifters will recommend using straps to eliminate your grip giving in. These are huge guys who already have cinder blocks for forearms. For the skinny fella looking to build bigger arms, this is counter intuitive.
Vary your Grip
Though many of us know the arms as being split into the biceps, triceps and forearms, the truth is not so simple. Each term describes a specific group of muscles which make up that part of a person’s arm. The biceps, for instance, are composed of the brachialis, which assists in flexin the elbow joint, and the bicep brachii, which itself is broken down into 2 seperate muscle “heads”.
Though most of us are happy for a general increase in size, by varying our grip we can target these particular heads when perfroming movements. For example, by widening the grip on a barbell curl, the inner head which adds thickness to the arm. By narrowing the grip, the long outer head, which develops the peak of the gun show pose, is targeted. Similar work can be done with the triceps, with changes in angle also focusing on the 3 areas of the horseshoe.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your arms be. Dedicated training, combining compound and isolation movements, varying exercises and grip, increased calorific intake and the required rest will grow your arms. That won’t take place in a week.
My arms have improved in the past 6 months. There are certain positions where the shape really pops, and my t-shirt sleeves feel a lot tighter. That said, they’re far from where I want them to be. I can visualize the the size and shape I want them at. Doing this keeps me moving forward.
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