Building big arms

Only a genetic freak like Ronnie Coleman can pound his muscles frequently without getting overtrained.

Only a genetic freak like Ronnie Coleman can pound his muscles frequently without getting overtrained.

Building massive arms is what many bodybuilders dream about. Not only bodybuilders but also people who are into weight training love to build huge, muscular arms that denote power and strength.

This story focuses on maximising upper arm mass.

Granted, building incredibly shaped yet massive arms is controlled by genetics. Some people are ‘blessed’ and will quickly develop ‘big guns.’  They can get good results despite the mistakes they commit – overtraining, less than perfect eating or lack of adequate rest!

And then you have the persons who just do not seem to make any progress whatsoever. But, with perseverance, intense and sensible training and eating, building massive arms can become a reality.

Being a bodybuilder myself, I often see so many of my competitors overtraining their arms. This is detrimental to gaining size.

How often?

Training the arms once in 5-7 days is plenty. This is because both the triceps and biceps are used while you train other body parts. When you train your back, your biceps get involved. And when you train your chest or shoulders, your triceps get recruited.

Poor arrangement

If you are not making any progress in arm-building, take a good look at how you have arranged your workouts.

If you are training back and biceps on the same day, perhaps you should train them on separate days with a couple of rest days between the workouts. There should be enough gap between these two workouts.

Likewise, if you are training chest with triceps, try doing them on different days, of course, you need a couple of rest days between those workouts as well.

How to train?

If your current workout is not producing results, then it is time you implemented a change.

Try a split like this:

Monday: Chest, Biceps, Abs
Tuesday: Legs, Calves
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Back, Abs
Friday: Shoulders, Triceps, Calves
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

Sample biceps routine:

Barbell curls 4 x 12,10,8,6
Dumbbell curls 3 x 10,8,6
Barbell Preacher Curls 3 x 12,10,8
Wrist curls 4 x15,12,10,8

Sample triceps routine:
Close grip bench presses 4 x 15,12,10,8
Lying barbell extensions 3 x 12,10,8
Weighted dips 3 x12,10,8

This may work wonders for majority of the trainees (including professional champions) but not much for a freak of nature (like 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman) whose muscles may need more frequent pounding!

Every individual is different

When to change?

Train really hard and heavy on all body parts and see what this split does to your goals.

After 4-6 weeks, you will know if it has started to work. I would recommend some change only if it does not produce any result.

Why train all parts?

The most important reason to train legs, back and chest really hard is that you cannot gain size on the arms if you do not gain muscular bodyweight. You should gain at least 4 kg of lean, fat free muscle to put on ½ to ¾ inch of lean muscle on your arms. Train hard and heavy on basic movements such as Bench Presses, Squats, Deadlifts and Barbell Rows.


Another thing to keep in mind is that even the greatest workout will probably make little sense if you are not supplementing it with an optimum nutrition plan. Heavy training is only a stimulus. The body will try to respond by becoming stronger and growing big only if you give it enough nutrition and rest.

Irrespective of whatever science says, I am still seeing so many people turning a deaf ear to sensible advice, and mindlessly training day-in and day-out for years on with no improvements.


6 Responses to “Building big arms”

  1. wat do we need to do to have huge and strong fore arms and calf muscles

  2. takeupsculpting Says:

    Dear Bharat,
    while you try to add more size to your arms with heavy hard training (arms and entire body), your forearms will also grow, provided you train them like what has been said in the sample routine.
    Forearms may require specialisation only if they look pathetic when compared to great-looking arms, which is rare and may only in the case of a few professional bodybuilders.
    Calf training will soon be discussed in another story.

  3. sanjay sharma Says:

    i am sanjay sharma age 37 yrs old from kolkata. i have one query that how can i make my arms huge and strong.

  4. Hey hi dude,
    wonderful piece of advice . I ve had this problem. My workout on tuesdays and fridays is squat ,legpress , pulldown and one more lat exercise, only then i come to this barbell curl and dumbells for my biceps.Till i reach my biceps part im like so tired and m not able to do justice to my biceps…So please suggest me a decent Routine…
    Please mail me the reply if u can
    keep up ur good work .. thanks a lot once again

  5. takeupsculpting Says:

    Dear Atif,
    I spoke to your coaches. The routine you have been given is a gold-standrad routine, which has been around for over 4 decades.
    You wanted to gain , right? There are millions who have gained muscle training on a training split like this.
    If you train your legs and back really, really hard, you may not need any biceps exercise at all, do you know this?
    Biceps muscle works indirectly during back movements and so does the triceps during chest and shoulder work.
    That’s why you are given a split like this.
    If you train hard, your arms will grow….only a handful who have good genetics can develop good arms even if they neglect heavy leg and back work…but those are exceptional cases….
    Still… if you say that you are training your back and legs really hard and find it tough to train biceps after that, do only one movement for biceps and not two.
    Or else, for three workouts, train biceps with only medium weights. Do heavy sets at the fourth workout. But, when you train them heavy, do not use 2 exercises. Do only one movement instead, 4 sets in Pyramid System.
    I remind you once again, what Murtuza has written is for people who have been training for years like serious professional bodybuilders and yet are unable to build only their arms (despite having a competition-worth physique).
    I feel, it will take you a little more time to reach that level.
    Stick with the basics until then. You will see good results if you give your 100 %, in all departments.
    Good Luck.
    PS: Check whether you are eating the right way to support muscle growth.

  6. Hi sir,
    I dint know that when i work out my leg and lat , i indirectly work out my biceps… i was ignorant about that..
    and the last line of ur reply .. i need to work on it sir…I m planning to take that Pro 3 supplements(im not sure if i ve got the name right)… and i ll try my best to give in 100%..It would be gr8 to interact with u in person.. im looking forward for it sir!!! please let me know when!!
    Thank You

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