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How To Get Bigger Arms

The most important thing you’ve got to remember when it comes to the question of “how do I get bigger arms?” is that your genetics play a massive role in determining what your arms are going to look like. A perfect example of great arms would be the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger; his muscle bellies are full and he has excellent insertion points, so pretty much any form of arm training he does is going to result in positive changes. The man could add an inch just by looking at a barbell.

Unfortunately we didn’t all get Arnold’s genetics – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great pair of jacked arms with the correct guidance!

I see young men regularly training their arms, beating them to death, without realising that you’ve to put on at least 15lbs of lean muscle mass all over your body to add an inch to your arm! With that being said, focusing on the bigger, more bang-for-your-buck movements – like the squat, bench and deadlift – to put mass on all over, rather than isolation exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions, will help you to get bigger arms a hell of a lot quicker.

There are also a few extra tips that might help you in your quest to get bigger arms…

#1 Use Proper Technique

This is a highly underrated aspect of arm training. Let’s face it, swinging a weight up like a kettle bell snatch isn’t going to do anything for your arm development. You’re also much more likely to injure yourself and wear out the elbow joints.

So, as always, take your muscle through its full range of motion with as much tension as you can apply to it. If you need to, drop the weight – it is much more beneficial to go with a lighter weight and apply proper technique and tension, than to go for a heavier weight and have to swing the dumbbell around.

For quite a few individuals I know who had a tendency to grab the heaviest weight and swing it around, just altering this aspect of their training style has allowed them to see great progression.

#2 Milk Progressive Overload

Many individuals get bored quickly and alter their training program before they’ve even given it a chance. You can stick to a program for a significant period of time, with the provision that you’re applying progressive overload. For anyone who isn’t quite sure what this means – progressive overload requires a gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency or time. So, in simple terms, you gradually add weight to the bar, or increase the number of sets and so on.

I advocate progressive overload because, quite plainly, it works. Altering your program every 3 weeks out of boredom or perceived lack of progress won’t allow you to track whether or not that particular program has worked for you.

Focus on adding weight to the bar each time you go back to the gym while being conscious of your form and technique. We don’t want an injury because a girl walked passed you in the gym and you wanted her to see your noodle arms in full action.

#3 Use Fat Grips

Try using fat bar or fat grip attachments. It may seem like a very minute aspect of training, but at the end of the day, the thicker the bar, the more muscle fibres you’re going to recruit in your arm. This will tie over into increased muscle protein synthesis and you’ll have Popeye’s forearms in no time by implementing this strategy.

#4 Don’t Focus On Just Isolation Exercises

Like I explained above – you really do need to add 15lbs of mass all over to get another inch on your arms, so focusing solely on bicep curls and tricep extensions won’t get you the size you want. Yes, these exercises absolutely have their place, but if you’re trying to get bigger arms, you should focus on exercises that recruit a higher number of muscle fibres.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, but gymnasts have some of the best developed arms in the world. This is purely  down to the sheer volume of ring and bar work they use for their training. Take a leaf from their book and start implementing chin ups, pull ups, dips and most bodyweight movements to recruit as much muscle fibre as possible and get you bigger arms fast.

#5 Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

You NEED proper sleep if you want to put on muscle – including your arms. It’s really that simple. Men constantly ask me why they’re not growing despite eating and training correctly, and a huge amount of the time it can be attributed to staying out half the night every single weekend. 

Getting proper sleep every single night is absolutely crucial to putting on muscle. You need to get into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, i.e. a deep sleep. Just because you’re sleeping 8 hours a night doesn’t necessarily mean it’s quality sleep. I recommend supplementing with magnesium one hour before bed. Melatonin is also excellent to take every night. It can be difficult to get at times but is well worth the purchase. 

When I moved to Stillorgan, the bright blue lights from opposite buildings would flood through my bedroom windows at night and disrupt my sleep. Any light on the skin (phone, alarm clock, child’s night light etc.) will zap your melatonin production and your body won’t know it’s time to sleep. I covered my windows in tinfoil (yep.) and my sleep immediately improved, but you could always invest in some good blackout blinds if you want. A pitch black bedroom is worth it, trust me. 

If your goal is to get bigger arms, I cannot stress the importance of sleep enough. The significance of winding down in the evenings is something most of us also take for granted and doing it correctly will improve your sleep quality hugely. You should always dim the lights 3 hours before bedtime, and use an app on your phone/laptop called Twilight or F.lux in the hours before sleep. 

#6 Learn How To Manage Your Stress

You have to manage your stress. I’m talking about your mental reaction when someone swerves in front of you while you’re driving to work, when you realise you left your wallet at the bank, when your child just will not sleep or when you’re in the middle of a massive fight with your girlfriend. When your mind is stressed, your body will be too. By managing how you react to certain stressors, you can avoid causing certain issues within the body like inflammation. It is a completely overlooked aspect of fitness and it’s crucial you learn to manage it, especially if it’s your target to put on muscle fast. 

I meditate every morning before work for ten minutes, which I have talked about numerous times. The benefit of meditation in terms of putting on muscle fast and getting bigger arms is in regards to hormone output. Those who manage their stress levels effectively have a much better hormone output than those who don’t. If your hormones are out of whack, so too will you ability to put on muscle fast; not to mention that being stressed before a workout will significantly hinder your ability to perform well. Learn how to manage your stress so that when stressors do arise (and they will) you know exactly how to control your response.

#7 Train Hard & Train Smart

I’ve said it so many times at this stage – put down the dumbbell and stop spending so much time doing bicep curls. You should be focusing on the most bang-for-your-buck lifts such as the deadlift, squat, bench, lunge andchin up. Each of these exercises encorporate many of the major muscle groups at once, and so more muscle fibers are recruited. This will carry over into increased protein synthesis and thus increased muscle gain. Bare in mind that you should focus on form before adding any serious weight, and spend time doing mobility before every session.

So there you have it. My No BS Approach To Adding Quality Lean Mass. There unfortunately is no quick fix, and I see young men all to often giving up due to a perceived lack of progress. I urge you to stick to it, as consistency in all that I have mentioned above is key to success when it comes to building mass. Send this article to anybody you know who is faltering in their gym efforts because they are doubting the process! And if you have any questions regarding nutrition, training or supplements, comment below.