For those of you who are into bodybuilding, or showing off “the guns” in front of others… this is for you. Here are 14 laws of arm growth that you cannot ignore.
- WARM UP BEFORE TRAINING. It’s simple, yet oh so profound. Warming up gets the blood flowing, your joints ready and stretched. Plus your mind is better equipped to handle the workload.
- USE MODERATE WEIGHT. Another no-brainer. Real simple here also. Moderate weight will have you growing like a weed. Besides, the biceps and triceps are smaller body parts. Using the same mass-building techniques for training arms as you would back or chest… not very good.
- FORM, FORM, FORM. Form is everything. You don’t want short biceps, muscle imbalances, stuff like that do you? Using proper form is key. Cheating on your sets is a sure-fire way to decrease development. Using proper form has shown an increase of the recruitment of the muscle fibers. Bad form decreases the growth potential of the muscle as much as 45%. So use good form. For those of you new to lifting, watch your form. Ask others in the gym or even watch YouTube videos on how to properly do the exercise. The critiques, the extra few seconds won’t kill you.
- MIX IT UP. I mean by this… vary the equipment usage. You will invariably have a favorite tool to use for arms (personally I love the ropes for tri’s- I did 215 lbs with that the other day). To only use one tool is to severely limit your potential growth (both with muscle and with your character).
- DON’T CHEAT. See the pattern yet? We have all seen bad form. Excess swinging of the arms, using your hips, whatever- to achieve a lift. Learning to isolate your arms, especially the focus of the exercise (bi’s, tri’s, forearms, etc) will minimize the potential for injury (plus the potential for getting clowned by some people in the gym who call out people who use bad form).
- SWITCH IT UP. Different angles mean everything. To achieve the growth you want, you have to change the angles of your exercises. Changing the angles of the work you’re putting in, even supersetting (putting in another complimentary exercise that targets the same muscles you’re working, usually at a different angle i.e. wide-width push-ups in a set of dumbbell flyes) will do the trick.
- STRETCH. Lifting can be a science, but most of this is just “common-sense technique”. Stretching keeps the blood flowing in the muscles, removing the lactic acid and all the other trash that accumulates in a workout. Plus it feels good and can clear your head.
- MODERATION. Don’t over-do it! Don’t let your enthusiasm get the best of you. Overtraining will hinder your growth.
- TRAIN. TRAIN HARD. TRAIN LONG. BUT NOT BOTH. Keep your workouts varied. A great example is keep the intensity up, but keep it short- overtraining is your enemy.
- MIX IT UP 2: CHANGE YOUR ROUTINES OFTEN. The body commits to “muscle memory”. You have to keep your body guessing. There should be a change in your workout routines at least every 21-30 days. You will get stuck in a mental rut otherwise. It will affect growth, and you will overtrain at some point trying to overcompensate for the lack of growth.
- TEMPO. Too easy here. For mass, go slow (to recruit the muscle fibers, etc). For lean muscle, go fast.
- TRAIN BICEPS, TRICEPS TOGETHER SOMETIMES. Supersetting these two groups is good idea to keep the variety going. For example, some days, I will do arms. I will jump from bi’s to tri’s sometimes. You’re still getting the work in, but it’s a bit unconventional. Unconventional, unorthodox methods do work.
- MORE TRICKERY. More techniques like rest-pause, compartmentalized reps (like 21s- a personal favorite of mine), partial reps, stuff like that makes a workout great. Try ending full sets with a set or two of these type of schemes. You’ll love the results.
- LAST, BUT NOT LEAST… Massage. Whether it’s self-massage or getting an LMT to work out the kinks, getting that lactic acid and the blood out of the muscles is crucial, especially for smaller muscle groups like the biceps and triceps. Keep your water intake high before, during and after workouts, especially after a massage.