The Six Best Arm Exercises

The Six Best Arm Exercises

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If you're here looking for the best arm exercises to build bigger arms, you've come to the right place. We've got six arm exercises, with examples, to help push your biceps and triceps to the test in your next arm workout.

With biceps being one of the most popular body parts to train, whether you're a bro split veteran or a total gym novice, there's no doubt you've heard of a bicep curl... arguably one of the most well-known arm exercises out there.

Don't be fooled by the obsession with the two muscles on the front of your arm, though... The triceps contain more muscle mass than the biceps and are often left neglected in the pursuit of t-shirt bulging arms.

It's time to take your biceps and triceps workouts to the next level and feel the pump from the very best arm exercises for increasing muscle mass, strength and performance.

Here are 6 of the best exercises for arms:

Scroll down to find out more about each of the arm exercises, and how to do them.

  • Barbell Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Preacher Curl
  • Cable Bicep Curl
  • Skull Crusher
  • Cable Triceps Pushdown
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

We've put these arm exercises together to create a brutal arm workout, scroll to the bottom and give it a try a try!

Want to build bigger arms?

Erm, obviously. For many of us, wanting to build bigger arms is one of our first gym based goals - and even as they grow, continuing to shame the development of our lower limbs - we never feel quite content with our arm evolution.

So what can we do to help maximise arm growth and build bigger arms? Well, there are a few key points to consider when hitting the biceps and triceps.

1. Frequency

This may hurt your feelings a little... but obliterating your arms once a week could be holding you back when it comes to muscles growth... A study on the effects of resistance training frequency found superior hypertrophic outcomes in individuals who trained muscle groups twice per week, in comparison to once per week.

TIP: Train smarter. Reducing overall session volume will reduce the chances of exhaustion while allowing you to train your arms again in the same week. Lifting a volume of 300kg in one day is more taxing than 400kg split over two days.

2. Progression

Our bodies adapt to stimuli, fact. Forcing adaptation can be done through several training techniques, from increasing weight, reps and intensity to reducing rest times. The force in adaptation helps to challenge the muscle fibres, breaking them down and forcing them to grow back bigger and stronger.

TIP: Train your arms in 4 to 6-week blocks, challenging yourself on the same exercises before switching it up after that training period.

Click here for the five best chest exercises

The Best Biceps Exercises

During your time in the gym, you'll probably come across some weird and wonderful exercises, with many trying to target the biceps in different ways. 

But... believe us when we say, the most effective lifts are often the most basic. Execute these three biceps exercises correctly in your next arm workout and reap the rewards.


Barbell Bicep Curl

Muscles Targeted: Biceps Brachii (Long Head & Short Head)

Overview:

If the Barbell Bicep Curl isn't part of your arm workout, now is the time to include it. Being one of the best exercises for developing muscle mass in the biceps, the utilisation of the barbell allows both arms to work together, shifting more weight during each rep.

And remember, increasing volume through total weight and reps helps stimulate adaptation in the muscle groups targeted, leading to muscular growth and development.

TIP: Classic bad form for the bicep curl includes erratic swinging at the bottom of the rep. Keep your feet planted shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and elbows kept strictly by your side. Aim for a powerful contraction to the top of the rep, with a slow three-second eccentric movement.



Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Muscle Targeted: Biceps Brachii & Brachialis

Overview:

The beloved preacher curl, the perfect exercise for isolating the biceps brachii. This exercise is well known as the ez bar preacher curl, however switching out the bar for dumbbells allows for unilateral conditioning, ensuring both arms are as strong as each other.

Utilising the preacher curl bench (or an incline bench) with dumbbells creates one of the best biceps exercises for targeting the muscle, reducing the ability to 'cheat' whilst placing more emphasis on the contraction of the muscle throughout the movement.

TIP: Rotate your grip for a preacher hammer curl, giving the same amount of isolation, with more focus on the forearm, Brachialis and Brachioradialis.



Cable Bicep Curl

Muscle Targeted: Biceps Brachii

Overview:

Cable bicep exercises can often be overlooked for the more favourable barbell or dumbbell variations, but you don't need to fall into that same trap. The Cable Bicep Curl is essential for increasing training volume in your arm workouts, often used towards the end of sessions with a higher repetition focus.

Using the cables for bicep curls creates a 'constant tension' environment for the biceps, making them work uniquely compared to the traditional aforementioned methods.

TIP: The cable machine can be great for drop sets and working to failure, with the weight pin system making it quick and simple to alter resistance.


Add these five best leg exercises to your next workout


The Best Triceps Exercises

It isn't an arm workout if you don't hit your biceps and triceps. Made up of three muscles located on the rear of your upper arm, the main function of the triceps is the extension of your elbow.

Larger push movements such as triceps dips and barbell bench press also recruit the muscle fibres of the triceps. But, we're here to give you the best triceps exercises to isolate the muscle.


Skull Crusher

Muscle Targeted: Triceps Brachii (Lateral Head, Medial Head & Long Head)

Overview:

Otherwise known as the Lying Triceps Extension; If you're chasing big triceps, the skull crusher exercise should be near the top of your list. This triceps exercise is usually performed with the barbell or ez bar, allowing both triceps to work together, targeting all three heads of the triceps brachii.

Focus on the slow eccentric movement, before powerfully extending your arms, engaging the triceps throughout the exercise.

TIP: Don't drop the weight; else you'll find out why this exercise is called the 'skull crusher'.



Cable Triceps Pushdown

Muscle Targeted: Triceps Brachii

Overview:

Utilising the cable machine isn't just for bicep exercises... mounting the attachment higher on the frame allows for an abundance of cable tricep extension exercises to be performed.

Helping isolate the triceps brachii, the Cable Tricep Pushdown using the straight bar attachment targets the three heads of the triceps.

The Cable Extension is a great tool for beginners before moving on to more demanding exercises, helping develop muscular conditioning and strength.

Experienced lifters can also take advantage of the cable system, isolating key areas of the triceps through different tricep extension attachments, including single arm triceps exercises.

TIP: A strict posture is key to isolating the triceps effectively. Position yourself with a balanced stance, soft knees and retracted shoulders; keeping your elbows pinned by your side throughout the movement.



Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

Muscle Targeted: Triceps Brachii

Overview:

This exercise provides a unique way to isolate the tricep, lifting the arm above the head to stretch the long head of the muscle placing more emphasis on the contraction.

You'll need to leave your ego at the door for this lift. The single-arm overhead extension the weight you can shift will be limited, but that doesn't reduce its effectiveness. Start with a light weight and build your way up as your stability, and strength improves.

Rest assured, this is one of the best dumbbell exercises for triceps to help isolate and target the three heads of the muscle.

TIP: When standing, ensure you are contracting your abs to hold your body still and prevent your lower back from arching.



The Best Arm Workout

So, you've now got a list of the best arm exercises; it's time to put them together to create your next arm workout. Combining the best arm exercises above helps target your biceps and triceps in different ways, challenging and stimulating the muscle to adapt and grow.

The Arm Workout:

Here is on of the best arm workouts to challenge biceps and triceps, starting with heavier, strength based rep ranges before moving towards hypertrophy and muscular endurance. Keep rest times between 45 - 60 seconds. 

  • a1. Barbell Bicep Curl - 3 sets 5 reps
  • b1. Skull Crusher - 3 sets 5 reps
  • c1. Dumbbell Preacher Curl - 3 sets 10 reps
  • c2. Single-Arm Overhead Tricep Extension - 3 sets 10 reps
  • d1. Cable Bicep Curl - 2 sets 20 reps
  • d2. Cable Tricep Pushdown 2 sets 20 reps

*c1. + c2. and d1. + d2. are supersets.

Make sure you save this awesome arm workout for your next session in the gym.

There we have it, six of the best arm exercises and one of the best arm workouts for you to try.

What's your favourite arm exercise? Let us know in the comments below!

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