The Real Way to Add an Inch to Your Arms

The beauty of a well-structured arm routine is that you can target each part of your arm by manipulating the range of motion to get more complete development. All you need are three movements for triceps, and three for biceps.

Each movement will hit a small portion of the muscular resistance curve. When you’re selecting exercises, make sure that you choose ones that emphasize each segment, or peak, of the range of motion. There are three main segments of the range of motion: the fully stretched position, the midrange, and the fully shortened. Your muscles are at their weakest in the fully stretched position and at the fully shortened position, so if you start by building strength in those areas, you will be able to make more overall progress both in strength and size.

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Start with a movement where your arms are at your side (first, most extended part of the range of motion). This will force your biceps to engage the most at the bottom of the repetition. This is a rather old-school bodybuilding approach, where you might start with heavy alternating curls while you're fresh, and then move into other movements to stimulate your arms in different ways, like preachers and crucifix curls. 

Here is what a preacher curl looks like:

preacher curl from fitclub

Change up each exercise at each segment, even subtle differences will challenge your biceps in different ways, stimulating growth. Things like your wrist angle (such as a regular curl versus a hammer curl), what you lift (dumbbell vs. kettlebell, for example), grip distance (how far your hands are spread on the bar), and your elbow position all target the muscle in slightly different ways, giving you faster results in less time.

How heavy should you go? Choose a weight that allows for 10 reps to failure (and still good form).


tricep with rope

The same principles apply here: you want to change up your exercises in order to target the long, medial, and lateral heads of the muscle. Rope pushdowns are a good starting point. The most tension will be placed on the muscle in the fully stretched portion of the range of motion. You will be weaker in this position, so don't try to push a ton of weight. When you move on to an exercise that targets the middle of the range of motion, you'll be able to go heavier. Then you can finish up with kickbacks, which will give you the best contraction and provide tension in the fully shortened position. The possibilities are endless with your choices of exercises, but every workout should be comprised of three parts. 

Here are some rules for a Complete Arm Workout:

Make sure your diet and nutrition are on point. Without a well-balanced, clean diet, no amount of curls or pushes will give you defined arms.

4 week shred

Consume the proper pre and post workout supplements.

Movements starting with extended arms should have the most tension at first quarter of the range of motion. An example would be barbell curls. Perform the movements slowly and deliberately. Don’t use momentum to pull through.

Exercises targeting mid-range should provide the most tension at the mid-point of the movement. For the middle exercise, a good example is a preacher curl, where your arms are perpendicular to your torso.

Your last exercise, where the muscle length is shortest, should have the most resistance at the most contracted point of the exercise. For this movement, using the cables will provide a lot of tension at the most contracted point in the range of motion.

To continue a solid pump through your workout, make sure you get your branched chain amino acids. A good rule of thumb is to consume 5-10 grams of BCAA’s during your workout and try either biceps before triceps, or go back and forth between a bicep and a triceps exercise. By doing biceps first, you will pump blood into the area and prep your elbows for heavy tricep work. Also, you’ll probably make better arm progress if you stick to working biceps and triceps together on the same day of the week. If you pair chest and triceps, for example, you may be too tired by the end of chest to do a good job on your tris.

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by Alex Mosner

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