10 tips if arms won’t grow

Guys, who doesn’t want bigger arms? If you’re reading this article I guess you want to know a few tips or secrets that will accelerate your growth.

If you’re training hard and eating enough and still struggling to add inches to your gunz read on and I will share some great information.

Don’t train back with biceps or chest with triceps.

The more weight you can lift (with good technique and maintaining tension on the muscle), the more damage you will create leading to a higher demand for adaptation (more growth).

If you train biceps straight after a back workout or your triceps after a chest workout all the bench-pressing, rows, pulls and pushes will leave your arm muscles fatigued. Your arms will already be tired so the amount of weight you can lift with your arms will be diminished and so will your gains. Change your programme so you have a dedicated ‘arms’ day.

Superset opposing muscles (biceps and triceps)

Did you know by super-setting opposing muscle groups you will actually recruit more muscle fibre?

Doing a heavy set of biceps curls then a set of triceps extensions will lead to more muscle fibres being recruited for the triceps. A short rest then going back into the set of curls, you will have recruited more muscle fibres with in the biceps.

The more muscle fibres you can recruit the heavier weights you can lift and the more muscle damage you can create leading to larger gains in muscle and strength.

Chin ups, chin ups, chin ups

I used to hate chin ups, like seriously loathe them. Today I absolutely love them. Many people avoid chin ups or do those weird kipping things where they swing their whole body around like a dying fish, (should be called kippers). Purely for the fact that it takes a lot of effort to pull your whole body up with strict form and so avoid them. My suggestion to you would be persist.

My arms were never a strong point for me but I persisted with chin-ups and now my arms are bigger and stronger because of them. I know I already said don’t train your back and biceps on the same day but doing a supinated chin-up focusing on using your biceps can be a fantastic way to start your ‘arms’ workout.

Be wary of your surroundings.

Doing a strict, heavy bicep curl can not only fatigue your biceps it can also fatigue your surrounding muscles like your forearms. Heck I’ve even seen someone have to stop curling because they had a weak core and started getting a tired lower back. Be wary of these issues and spend time training them as well.

Tired forearms – spend some time at the end of your back workout and the end of your arms workout doing some grip work like hanging holds, (simply hang from a chin-up bar for as long as you can). Old school bodybuilders like Larry Scott were big proponents or forearm training for upper arm development. The more weight you can handle and keep hold of the more growth you will experience as a result.

Tired core – you could probably benefit from doing a plank or two or even adding a Pilates class into your training programme.

Intra set rest

Small rests during your set help to offset any oxygen debt you may have accrued and also give the muscle time for the removal of waste products which stop you performing the exercise. This method will allow you to use heavier weights (as you know you can rest a little in the middle of the set to recover) but also short rests will help to recruiting high threshold motor units.  15 seconds or less (10 or less would be ideal).

Train your traps

Now this one was surprising to me when I learnt it over 10 years ago but it makes complete sense. The weight of your arms can actually pull your shoulders down and interfere with correct alignment of the joints. If the joints are misaligned it can block the neural and vascular (nerves and blood), supply to the upper arms. Ensure that the mass of your arms is balanced with the development of your trapezius and deltoid or it will and block substrates and nerve messages from crossing the joint optimally.

Try new rep ranges

Most people stagnate with muscle growth because they stick with 3 sets of 8-12 for weeks, sometimes even years. Have you ever tried 20-25 reps or 5s? If you’re trying to create muscular growth you need to stimulate as many muscle fibres as possible and you can only do that through various rep ranges. Doing high reps (ensuring you’ve eaten enough carbs and fully hydrated), will pump up the muscle creating new growth for substrate storage and lower reps will create growth through muscular damage. Do both!

One programme you may try heavy supersets; 6 reps heavy hammer curls, 10 seconds rest then do another 6 reps heavy barbell curls.

The next programme you may do 20-25 reps of a cable curl, rest for 60 seconds then go again.

Train your brachialis

Your brachialis is a muscle which is situated between your biceps and triceps muscle and most people neglect training this, but you shouldn’t. A well-developed brachialis will push your biceps muscles away from the midline of your arm giving you an overall bigger look, a peaked bicep and that split which separates biceps and triceps. I guarantee your arm growth will take off when you start training this muscle.

The best way to hit the brachialis is with a pronated grip (over hand or reverse grip), as this puts your biceps at a mechanical disadvantage so the brachialis has to do most of the work. Try reverse grip ez curls or Zottman curls at the beginning of your workout.

Put most of your efforts into triceps training

Why? Because the triceps make up 66% of your upper arm musculature. The biceps only make up 33% its simple maths, bigger triceps = bigger arms.

Double up

If you’ve been doing one ‘arms’ session a week or doing the classic ‘back & bis’ and ‘chest & tris,’ workouts, try doubling up so that you’re hitting the biceps and triceps twice a week (space them out so you have sufficient recovery and time for growth) and use different rep ranges for each workout. For example Monday 6-8 reps. Thursday 15-20 reps

The key

Whatever you do with your arm training make sure you focus on using the muscle and not just moving a weight from A to B with no real focus on keeping tension on the muscle.

I have worked with people that have been stagnant with growth for years and all I’ve done is reduce the weight they lift and get them to focus a lot more on keeping tension on the muscle and it has reignited their muscle gains.

Matt Knight is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.