Whether you are a man or a woman, a nice set of arms will get you far in life. Maybe not as far as a doctorate degree, but pretty darn close. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their biceps and triceps. If they are chiseled and toned, the person is probably a hard worker that doesn’t back away from anything. On the other hand, if you see a person with virtually no biceps and tiny triceps, you wonder just what they must do in life to have basically no muscle at all.
For women, the more specific problem is often the back of their arms (known as the tricep). We have all seen the lady that goes to wave goodbye and the back of her arm keeps on waving long after her hand has stopped.
Men have a different problem. Small arms are taken as a sign of weakness. And if you are trying to impress the opposite sex or even just get your point across in a board meeting, bulging biceps and horseshoe triceps goes a long way.
The great news is that if you are lacking in the arm region, there is something that you can do about it. A little strength training can make all the difference in the world. Soon enough, your sleeves on your shirts will be getting tighter and tighter as more people start recognizing that you are becoming dedicated to fitness.
Before You Start Your Bicep and Tricep Routine
Keep in mind, if you are training your arms every few days, you will be making some gains, but not as much as you could if you concentrated on your diet as well. Protein combined with strength training will build muscle much quicker.
The American College of Sports Medicine states that if you want to gain muscle mass, then you should be consuming a good deal of protein every day along with weight training. To simplify the ratio for you, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be consuming at least 90 grams to 144 grams of protein a day (0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight).
While it may be difficult to consume this much protein from your normal diet alone, you can supplement protein shakes into your daily routine to help you achieve the desired amount. Choose a good whey protein shake as it builds muscle much better than soy. Remember that fitness is 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. You can’t out-train a bad diet.
Most people like to train bis and tris together as it is a complete upper arm workout. During my workout, I alternate and do a bicep exercise for a set of three or so and then go straight into a tricep exercise. I continue doing this until I complete my whole workout. By switching back and forth like this, you are providing a little bit of a break to the muscle so you will be able to lift heavier and for more reps. [An arms exercise program like this also gives you a tremendous pump.] And more muscle is eventually created through heavy lifting and repetition. During a strenuous workout, the muscle fibers become slightly torn. In return, afterward, they start to repair and reform slightly bigger than they were before. This is how you start getting larger muscles.
Biceps Exercise #1: Dumbbell Hammer Curls
I prefer doing my dumbbell curls with the hammer grip for a significant reason. I used to get terrible pain in my forearms the days after completing my bis and tris workout. I finally broke down and talked to a doctor. He said I was lifting heavy enough weight with the normal palms facing up dumbbell curl grip that I was basically causing tiny little fractures in my forearms (similar to shin splints for runners). The hammer grip lessens the strain considerably on the forearm so much that I have not had any pain since. I usually do four sets of dumbbell hammer curls one arm at a time at a heavy enough weight that I can at most only complete 8 to 10 reps per set.
Triceps Exercise #1: Dips
Dips are a compound exercise so it is working a few muscle groups at once. Lean forward to work the pecs more, and lean back to engage the tris more. It also takes a bit more out of you as well because of it, so get these out of the way early. I always shoot for three sets of rep ranges of 15 or more if possible. Of course, it took a bit of time to get up to these high reps, but if you work at it, you will get there as well.
Biceps Exercise #2: Rope Bicep Curl at a High Angle
I always like to use the rope when possible because I feel it improves my grip strength. By doing this exercise at a higher angle, I am basically working the muscle a bit differently which is always a good thing. I usually do five sets of this exercise at 10 to 15 reps.
Triceps Exercise #2: Standing Barbell Skull Crushers
I like to do as many exercises as I can while standing just to activate more muscle groups. These skull crushers can put a bit of a strain on the elbow, and getting a full range of motion can be difficult, so don’t go too heavy but keep your reps high. Shoot for three sets of 15 reps. If the barbell is placing too much stress on your elbows switch to a ez bar.
Biceps Exercise #3: Incline Dumbbell Curls
You can choose to do the incline dumbbell curls with the hammer grip or palms up just because you will not be going super heavy on this exercise. It trains the long head of the bicep incredibly and is a great way to isolate the muscle. Three sets of 12 reps is a good number to shoot for.
Triceps Exercise #3: Rope Tricep Pushdown
This is an isolation movement so really crank out the reps on this exercise. If you can do 15 to 20 reps with perfect form for three sets on this one and feel the burn in the process, go for it.
Biceps Exercise #4: Preacher Curl Machine
This is the final bicep exercise for the workout so end it with an isolated preacher curl machine movement when your arms are burnt out. Start with the heaviest weight you can do for five reps and then immediately drop it down a plate and do five more. Continue through this process until there are no more plates left to do. You might have done 50 to 80 reps by the time you finish your upper arms exercises, but your biceps can recover.
Triceps Exercise #4: Close-Grip Bench Press
Close-grip bench press really trains the triceps well. I like to do them at the end of the workout as they are a strenuous compound exercise and I know once I have finished them, I am done for the day. Three sets of 10 to 15 reps is a good amount for this final triceps exercise.