Go straight to the top for advice on how to get big arms fast. Arnold reveals the methods he used to develop the greatest arms of all time.
The anatomy of the arm is composed of three major muscle groups:
Biceps Brachii: The biceps have two heads that start under the shoulder and insert just below the elbow. The biceps function to lift and curl the arm as well as to supinate the wrist downward.
Forearm: The forearm consists of a number of muscles that exist around the lower arm. The forearm controls the actions of the hand and the wrist. The basic function of the forearm is to curl the palm as well as to curl the knuckles.
Training The Arms
The arms are the glory muscles.
Arnold recalls his early days of training when he would flip through bodybuilding magazines in search of pictures of massive biceps and visualizing that he too would someday have arms like that.
By the age of 19 he already had arms stretching the tape at a huge 20 inches.
At their peak, Arnold’s biceps measured a massive 22.25 inches with pump.
Complete arm development has more to do with than just building mere size. All the heads of the biceps and triceps must be brought out to their maximum potential. This requires careful thought and planning.
A filly developed arm has peaking biceps, low hanging triceps, separation between the biceps and triceps, forearm development at the elbow, and a visible connection between the shoulder and the upper arm muscles.
The forearms must be built up in proportion to the arm.
For superior arm development you must break down the muscles into categories and determine what exercises you need to do in order to make sure that each muscle gets the right amount of training.
Developing The Perfect Arms
Many tend to associate big arms with big biceps.
In reality, the triceps are actually the bigger muscle group of the upper arm. The tricep has three heads while the bicep have only two.
Arnold says that the ideal proportion of the upper arm is two thirds tricep and one third bicep.
Developing the perfect arms comes down to:
- Knowing which muscles to give focus to.
- Which exercises to do.
- How much effort to give to the different muscle groups.
In order to get your arms to grow, you will have to shock them to grow. This means altering your training methods and incorporating variety.
(P.S. If you’d like to download 19 tips to radically enhance muscle growth check out my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)
Training The Biceps
In The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding Arnold says that the biceps have always been his best body part.
As a youngster, Arnold gave much importance to his biceps and was always flexing them.
Arnold worked very hard to get his biceps to the level that they reached.
What complete muscle development comes down to is exerting the maximum amount of effort and employing proper training technique.
But here’s the kicker:
Not everybody has the same genetic potential when it comes to muscular development.
Arnold’s bicep shape had been predetermined by his genetics.
Everyone’s bicep shape varies. What it comes down to is your predetermined bone structure and physical proportions.
If you have shorter arms, it will be easier for you to develop biceps that look proportionately massive.
If you have longer arms you will need to grow them even further to make them look proportionately well developed compared to the rest of your body.
The relative strength of the other muscles in your body will also play a part in determining how well your biceps are trained.
Arnold provides the example of Franco Columbu who had overly developed front delts. When Franco would do bicep curls, the delts would take over most of the work.
Isolating the biceps is essential if you truly want to bring them out.
Arnold often used an “Arm Blaster”, a piece of training equipment that locked the elbows into place while doing curls. Another way to isolate the biceps is by using a preacher bench for curls.
If you don’t have access to such kind of equipment, the best thing to do is to perform curls with your back against the wall thus minimizing cheating .
For proper bicep development you must minimize the use of other muscles in the exercise.
You have to learn the correct technique of the exercises and make sure that your curling movements are going through the longest range of motion.
Arnold recommends the Barbell Curl as the fundamental mass builder for the biceps.
The Barbell Curl should always be included in your training.
Dumbbell Curls should also be included right from the start of your training. They allow for you to isolate your biceps one arm at a time with the added benefit of wrist supination. The supination gives a more complete contraction and works to bring out the peak of the bicep.
After a few years of training under your belt your goal should be to continue adding on mass as well as to create definition in the entire shape of the bicep.
Observe your bicep to see if you need to train for bicep peak or thickness.
Arnold says that Incline Dumbbell Curls are the number one exercise for the development of the bicep shape. Incline Dumbbell Curls allow for a longer range of motion with an additional stretch at the bottom portion of the exercise.
Concentration Curls are great for bringing out the bicep peak.
Arnold has been an avid advocate of super-setting biceps and triceps. Doing so will result in a tremendous pump and make your arms feel enormous.
When preparing for competition Arnold would employ the Stripping Method with 21s and combined partial reps, full reps, and super sets with a variety of exercises.
Visualization was another technique Arnold has become renown for:
In my mind I saw my biceps as mountains, enormously huge, and I pictured myself lifting tremendous amounts of weight with these superhuman masses of muscle.
Weak Point Training
It is fairly common for certain areas of your biceps to be less developed than others.
When trying to bring out certain areas of your bicep it is best to do single-arm exercises with dumbbells. Dumbbells make sure that each arm is working to its maximum and allows for symmetrical development in both arms.
Proper training technique is vital for truly well developed biceps – controlling your elbow movement, lowering the weight down slowly rather than dropping it, and incorporating shocking principles.
Arnold recalls that he saw many bodybuilders involve too much of their forearms when doing curls.
Common bicep training mistakes:
- Starting with a curl of the wrist
- Releasing tension at the top of the exercise rather than flexing the bicep
- Throwing the weight back toward the shoulders
Arnold recommends using the peak contraction principle, i.e. maintaining maximum flexion of the biceps at the top portion of the Curl.
Another reason for lagging bicep development is just not pushing yourself hard enough.
Arnold recommends the following exercises based on particular lagging areas of the biceps:
Muscle mass is developed by lifting heavy weight.
If you can currently only curl 100 pounds and you train up to a point where you can curl 120 pounds, your biceps are inevitably going to get bigger.
- Heavy Barbell Curls
- Cheating Barbell Curls
Length and Thickness
To bring out length and thickness you have to focus on the lower third range of motion.
- Incline Curls
- Prone Curls
- Preacher Curls
- Curls with Arm Blaster
Dumbbell movements that focus on the supination of the wrist and the upper third range of motion will bring out bicep height.
Flex your biceps as hard as you can at the top of the movement.
Continue till you feel the pump.
- Concentration Curls
- Single-arm Cable movements
Training The Triceps
As mentioned earlier, the triceps are the largest muscle group of the arm.
In order for complete development you will need to train them from many different angles.
It is the triceps that make your arms look big when they are not flexed.
Well developed triceps are visible from the start of the elbow all the way back to the rear delts.
Complete tricep development means that each of the three heads are clearly developed, defined, and separated.
Beginner and Advanced Training
Step one in developing the triceps involves building up mass and strength. This means doing fundamental tricep exercises such as tricep presses and extensions.
The triceps are worked in a variety of other exercises:
- Bench Press
- Dumbbell Press
- Shoulder Press
Even though the triceps are being worked from other exercises, to really bring out separation between the three heads it is important to perform exercises that isolate each head.
Arnold recommends incorporating a variety of extension movements switching between barbells, dumbbells, and cables, hitting the triceps from a number of different angles.
Your particular bone structure will also play a part to determining your tricep development.
Some will find it easy to contract their triceps from a Pressdown movement, while others may find their shoulders, lats, or pecs getting involved. If this is the case for you, then focus on doing one-arm tricep movements for isolation.
Hand positioning is a crucial factor that can affect what part of your tricep is being worked:
- If your thumb is pointing up and palm facing inside, the outside of the triceps is being worked.
- If your palm is facing down, the inside part of the triceps is being worked.
- Twisting your wrist with the thumbs in and down, hits the muscles from a different angle.
A fully developed tricep resembles a horseshoe in appearance. It has a curve up from the elbow and is distinct from the shoulders and biceps.
Weak Point Training
If triceps are a lagging muscle for you, then use Priority Principle, i.e. training them at the start of you workout when your mind and body are fresh.
Arnold used the Priority Principle to develop his triceps when his biceps had grown out of proportion.
Arnold recommends the following exercises based on your lagging areas of tricep development:
Building mass comes down to using heavy weight.
Proper technique involves taking your triceps to full flexion and locking out.
- Close-Grip Bench Press
- Weighted Dips
Arnold says that you should focus on the peak contraction principle, i.e. holding the full contraction for a couple of seconds before going back to the top of the rep.
- One-Arm Cable Pressdowns
The more you maintain the bend in your arm the more the lower triceps will take up the contraction.
- Behind the back dips – perform partial reps in which you go all the way down in the negative portion of the exercise but only go about two thirds of the way up.
If you want a fully developed physique then you should take forearm training seriously.
The forearm muscles are recruited in every upper body movement.
Better forearm strength will allow for you to lift more weight in many other exercises as well. In exercises such as pull ups and Cable Rows, the grip is usually the weak link.
Many people neglect forearm training.
Arnold recalls that all the bodybuilders he trained with who had superior forearm development always trained their forearms in isolation.
You should incorporate forearm training in isolation even as a beginner.
Arnold recommends two exercises:
- Barbell Wrist Curls
- Reverse Wrist Curls
Arnold reveals that doing a few sets of high reps is what got him the best results in terms of forearm development.
To really stimulate the forearms use a relatively heavy weight. The forearms, like the calves, are adapted to heavy stress and need a heavy weight in order to respond.
Minimize recruitment from the other muscles:
Lay your forearms on a bench, close your elbows together and lock them in between your knees.
Forearm development will add to your grip strength, which in turn will allow you to go heavier in many other exercises.
As you get more advanced, Arnold recommends incorporating One-Arm Wrist curls to further isolate the forearms to bring an added intensity to each forearm.
Arnold also recommends super-setting Wrist Curls with Reverse Wrist Curls for a crazy pump.
Weak Point Training
If you don’t start training your forearms right from the beginning, then they may end up being a weak point for you.
The less you use your upper arms to complete the above movements, the more your forearms will respond. A long range of motion is very important. Make sure you are getting a maximal stretch.
Use the Priority Principle when training the forearms to really boost their development.
The following are exercises Arnold recommends based on particular parts of lagging forearms:
- Reverse Curls
- One-Arm Reverse Curls
- Hammer Curls
- Behind the back wrist curls
- Barbell wrist curls
- One-arm wrist curls
Arnold’s Favorite Arm Exercises – Biceps
In The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding Arnold reveals the exercises he used to build his arms.
Standing Barbell Curls
Purpose: To develop overall mass in the biceps.
Arm Blaster Curls
The Arm Blaster is a piece of equipment that is not as common today as it once was.
The purpose of using the Arm Blaster is to minimize involvement from other muscles and to bring the sole focus of the contraction onto the biceps.
Purpose:To develop more mass and strength in the biceps.
Purpose: To isolate and develop the lower portion of your biceps.
Purpose: To work and develop the entire bicep as well as to build endurance.
21s grow through three different combinations of partial and full ranges of motions.
You are essentially doing 3 sets of 7 reps without rest.
Purpose: To work the whole bicep and to bring out the peak.
Alternate Dumbbell Curls
Purpose: To provide extra isolation by working each arm individually and minimizing cheating.
Purpose: To bring out the peak of the bicep.
Arnold used to do these at the end of every bicep workout. You will be using a relatively lighter weight, but really concentrate on the contraction and keep a strict movement.
Arnold’s Favorite Arm Exercises – Triceps
Tricep Cable Pushdown
Purpose: To contract the triceps through a complete range of motion
One-Arb Cable Reverse Pushdown
Purpose: To work the triceps in isolation and to bring out the horseshoe shape. Especially effective in bringing out weak points due to working each arm in isolation.
Purpose: To work all three heads of tricep with further focus on the long head.
Can be done in a sitting or standing position.
Tricep Extensions (Skullcrushers)
Purpose: To work the complete tricep. Especially effective in building mass in the long head
Can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or even a cable.
Purpose: To work the upper portion of the tricep
Can be done with dumbbells or cable.
Purpose: To build thickness in the area of the tricep around the elbow.
Can be done on a dip station or on a bench.
Arnold’s Favorite Arm Exercises – Forearms
Purpose: To build thickness in the inner muscles of the forearms, i.e. the flexor muscles.
Can also be done behind the back.
Reverse Barbell Curls
Purpose: To develop forearm extensors as well as the outer part of the bicep.
Can be done on a preacher bench for further isolation.
How To Get Big Arms At Home
If you do not have access to a gym you will have to use bodyweight exercises to develop the muscles of your arms.
The two exercises you can do at home to get bigger arms are:
- Push ups
Perform pull-ups with your palms facing you to bring the focus on to the biceps. Focus on feeling that contraction and maintain flexion at the top of the exercise.
Diamond Push Ups are great for contraction in your triceps. Bring your thumb and pointer finger together to form a diamond and proceed with the pushups tucking your elbows into your body. You should really feel the burn in your entire tricep.
Start off by doing 100 reps of each of these a day. Once you develop strength, proceed to vary the form of these exercises in order to make them more difficult.
(P.S. If you’d like to download 19 tips to radically enhance muscle growth check out my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)
Sample of Arnold’s Arm Workout
Remember that Arnold was always switching things up to keep his body guessing.
That being said, here is a sample of what Arnold’s super-setting arms workout looked like:
Arnold has revealed his methods on how to get big arms fast. What it now comes down to is putting this knowledge into application to be on your way to the massive arms you have always wanted.
Arnold’s Top Tips On: