When you ask a friend who’s going to the gym what they’re planning on working on, they’ll often grunt out the words “arm day.” OK, cool. But there’s more to it than that.
The “arms” themselves are not muscle groups. There are actually two main muscle groups that comprise them. Since you want to know how to build muscle in your arms, the answer is that you need to focus on your biceps and triceps.
1 – Learn your anatomy
The biceps reside on the front part of your upper arm. They have two parts – hence the “bi” prefix, which means two. You engage these muscles through a motion called elbow flexion. This occurs any time you bend your elbow and decrease the angle between your forearm and upper arm.
The triceps contain three parts and they are found on the back of the upper arms. You often see disgruntled women jiggling this part of their arm, saying, “I gotta get rid of this!”
You work this section of the arm by doing elbow extension, which is the complete opposite of flexion. Simply put, your triceps get worked when you straighten your arm.
With this newfound knowledge, you’ll realize that you have to do these motions and work these two parts of your arms to build them up.
2 – Choose the right exercises
If you have even a little bit of physical literacy you can figure out what exercises you need to do for your arms. But in case you were absent in class too many times, here are some for you to choose from.
Dips, triceps pushdowns, triceps kickbacks, barbell curls, dumbbell incline curls, and twist curls.
3 – Don’t just focus on your arms
Here’s a little secret you should know. Doing heavy lifting with other exercises will boost your testosterone and growth hormone levels, which can help build muscle in your arms. In fact, this will help you build muscle throughout your entire body.
Call it the what-the-heck effect if you must, but just know it works. You can also maximize this effect by doing compound exercises, which work multiple joints and muscles at the same time. You can benefit your arms even more by doing compound exercises that include them, such as bench presses, military presses, back rows, and pull-ups.
4 – Rest your arms
Don’t be one of those nitwits who works the same muscle groups every day for weeks on end. That’ll set you up for failure and possible injury. Work your arms, then take at least one day off before working them again.
This downtime will allow your muscles to heal up and get stronger. If you still experience soreness or extreme fatigue, then take another day off. There’s never any need to be a hero and put yourself under threat.
Being smart is really how you build muscle in your arms. Do the right exercises, use weights that are taxing enough to get a response, and never overtrain. If you follow these basic rules, you’ll be proud to sport your arms and probably won’t wear a long-sleeved shirt again. Unless it’s really cold outside.