Many people associate strong, muscular arms and shoulders with masculinity.1
Having said that, humans come in all shapes and sizes, and before you enter into any decision to try to change your body shape, it is important to really believe that you are wonderful as you are.
Then, when you are at the point where you are feeling good, but you would love to have stronger or bigger arms, you can consider your options.
General arm muscle-building tips
Building up stronger, bigger arms, or any kind of muscle for that matter, is very much about perseverance, consistency, and reasonableness.
A high protein diet
You can complement your exercising with a good high-protein diet – an essential nutrient for building muscle mass.
Exercising daily or at least every two days, will get you where you want to be, but it is important not to overdo it either and spend all your time at the gym.
In addition, though there may be parts of your body that you want to work more on, it is important to look at your body as a whole and to spend quality time on all of your muscle groups.
This is both for the sake of your health, and to avoid ending up looking disproportionate, with giant arms and skinny little legs, for example.2
Tricep and bicep exercises
For building bigger arms, the key is a set of muscles called your triceps.
These are the three muscles or “heads” of muscles in your arms that make up the mass of your arm and will show the most change. So you want to spend as much time, or even more on your triceps, than on your biceps.3
When lifting weights, you will want to vary your grip. If you use only the one grip, you will hit a plateau and struggle to progress.
By mixing up your grip – for example, trying palms down rather than palms facing the body – you can change the stimulus on your muscles and shift the emphasis to different parts of them.4
Finally, to avoid injury, take it slow.
It could be tempting to go to the heaviest weight first, but that can be rough on your lower back.
Instead, go for a weight that is challenging, but where you can keep up a good posture and avoid rounded shoulders.5
Arm workouts for bigger arm muscles
A great gym-based arm workout involves working each muscle two to three times a week. This is because protein synthesis reboots every 48 to 72 hours.6
Use tempo training. This is where you take a certain amount of time to lift, hold, and lower the weights, then pause before lifting again.
The workout is not in lifting weights up and down quickly, but in using your muscles to slowly move and then hold the weights.7
One way to structure a work out is to have four sessions a week, with each session targeting different areas.
The first could target your chest and triceps, the second your back and biceps, the third your legs and shoulders, and the fourth, your biceps and triceps.
The first session, for example, would involve exercises such as incline bench presses, triceps dip, hammer-grip dumbbell bench press, and dumbbell triceps extension.
Then, each week, aim to lift slightly heavier weights.8
The best arm exercises you can do from home
You do not have to lift weights at the gym to work out your arms.
Your own body is heavy enough on its own, and you can lift it using various floor-based or wall-based exercises.
To tone your triceps for example, you can aim to start with a six-minute warm-up, exercise for a good 10 minutes, then cool down with a five-minute stretch.9
The 10-minute routine can start off with 15 press-ups. These work your arms, shoulders, and chest. Make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulders, and your arms fully extended. Your feet will be vertical, so that your legs and knees are off the floor.10
Follow this with 15 close-grip wall push ups. These target your triceps. Stand arm’s length from the wall, place your hands on your wall shoulder-width apart, and bend your arms to lower your body towards the wall.
Then, try some bench dips. Here, your hands are resting on the edge of the seat of the chair, and you’re facing away from the chair, and lowering and lifting yourself, with your legs bent.
End the routine with around 15 tricep kickbacks.11
Last updated: 21 December 2020