When we think about fitness – not just being properly healthy, but athletic, Adonic fitness – we think of two parts of the body above all others, the abdominal area and arms. We picture mighty, rugged, swole guys and toned, sleek women who could probably dismantle us with a pinky finger. Everyone wishes they looked like this to some level and we’d all love the strength and healthy feelings that come with it.
But then we imagine the pain, suffering, strict lifestyles, and uninspired diets that surely must be a prerequisite to look that good, and well, is it worth it? Clearly, some say yes, some say no, but both are wrong. A body like that takes a lot of dedication and hard work, yes. Do we have to abandon enjoying life? Psh, no!
It’s possible to achieve built-up arms with a relatively simple set of exercise routines. They’re not easy – they will work you hard, but they’re far from the insurmountable lifestyle changes one would expect. You’d be genuinely shocked at how quickly you’ll see results from this.
There are two measures to take when you want to build your arms up from scratch, and those are diet and exercise, just not to the extreme that one would typically think. First, let’s talk briefly about diet because our main focus here is going to be exercise.
Dietarily speaking, you need clean protein. This can be acquired from lean sources like egg whites, legumes, some less fatty cheeses, fish, and poultry. Let’s be honest; there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of red meat as well. The iron it provides is pretty important to circulation and muscle growth.
Mix this with something like creatine to encourage muscle growth and maximized use of nutrition, and you have a very managable diet that will make your exercise routines more effective.
Exercise is the more important thing, and starting out you can’t be overzealous. Start with two to three days a week, about half an hour to forty minutes, no more, with your routines. Be sure that you do appropriate stretches, and that you start small. If you try to take on too much right away, two things will happen. First, you’ll hurt yourself – not severely if you’re lucky, but you will experience a level of pain you shouldn’t need to suffer.
The second thing is that the pain, intensity, and immediate fatigue this brings about is going to discourage you to the point you’ll probably give up. This is why new years’ resolutions and other plans to get into shape often never get off the runway. It takes patience and a gradual easing into things. Now that we know to start small, and to balance our diet, let’s look at the muscle groups themselves, and how we can target them. That’s right; it’s not just dead-lifting and bench-pressing. In fact, don’t do those, at least not for quite a while!
Your biceps are the arm muscles you’re most familiar with, and most associated with strength. They’re divided into two groups.
Biceps Brachii are the front upper arm section between your shoulder and elbow and bend your elbow in the curling motion. Barbell and dumbbell curls are the best exercises for toning and building these. Putting them through high-demand versions of their base mechanical functions is going to trigger your body to build more.
The brachialis is a smaller muscle in the lower area, which reinforces elbow strength. Hammer curls and reverse curls are best for targeting these.
People have a bad habit of not paying the proper attention to their forearms, which are just as important to building overall musculature. These are divided into two groups, like the upper arm/bicep.
The Pronator Teres, while sounding like some comic book warrior, is the underside of the forearm which turns your hand. You’d be surprised how much strength this can require when you lift something heavy. Palm up barbell wrest curls, over a bench, will significantly increase musculature and strength here.
The other group, the brachioradialis, does lower arm flexing, which can be addressed with palm down barbell wrist curls over a bench.
Triceps are important, and coupled with upper back and shoulder exercise, complete the total package of lifting and endurance in arms. Lying tricep presses and close-grip bench presses work well for this. However, if you’re just starting out something like a Smith machine or cable pulls of some equivalent are honestly a safer idea.
Reps and Balance
We touched on this a little before, but now we need to get into it more deeply. You probably have a lot of focus on your biceps – after all, bulging biceps are the best in show when getting that swole, ripped look, right?
They’re important, and they are the workhorse muscles. However, a balanced distribution of workout and rep frequency across all of the muscle groups we discussed here is essential.
Remember the old adage, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”?
Beginners have a terrible habit of digging themselves into holes by focusing too much on biceps or triceps. They go by what they think a proper workout entails (primarily due to television or athletes pushing imbalanced habits).
Below, we’ll very briefly summarize one of several excellent exercise routines to build balanced arms –
- Close-grip barbell bench press, 3 sets, 4-6 reps per set;
- cable rope overhead triceps extension, 2 sets, 8-12 reps per set;
- triceps pushdown, 2 sets 15 reps per set;
- barbell curl, 3 sets, 4-6 reps per set;
- dumbbell alternate bicep curl, 2 sets 8-12 reps per set;
- standing biceps cable curl, 3 sets 15 reps per set;
- palms-down wrist curl over bench, 5 sets, 25 reps per set.
There are many other similar routines you can alternate through. To learn more about them and more excellent fitness advice and knowledge, follow us on Facebook today!