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When I first started my journey for bigger arms — in my late teenager years —my idea of a “ultimate arms workout” was focusing on endless bicep curls. I mean, I believed that toiling away at dumbbell curls in the gym would give the size I wanted to attract girls (like most teenage guys!)

For years I had small arms. I spent way too much time burning away at high repetition sets, with too much attention to biceps and little to no attention on triceps.

In this article, I’m going to share with you exactly what you need to build big biceps and triceps, as a natural beginner weightlifter, to achieve the type of transformation I achieved below.

ultimate arms workout

Lastly, here is another photo of my skinny physique before I started a bulking meal plan and the training guide I am about to share with you in this article. 

ultimate arms workout

 

Before I share the ultimate arms workout routine and exercises, let’s start with the anatomy of the arms and learn what needs to happen to get the look we want and then move on to the arm exercises and workouts that will get us there.

The Anatomy of the Arm Muscles

The Biceps

Most guys are familiar with the biceps (or “biceps brachii“) as a two-headed muscle which is subjected to endless curls in the dumbbell section of your typical gym. The anatomy of the biceps (as below) is very straight forward. 

ultimate arms workout

But there is also another important muscle that as a guy, you need to train to make the biceps brachii really “peak” when flexed. If you look closely at the above image, you’ll see the brachialis muscle underneath the biceps brachii. This muscle plays a big role in the overall look of your arms and must be considered when doing proper bicep training.

Later in the article, I will teach you how to train your brachialis (hammer curls!) 🙂

The Triceps

The triceps (or “triceps brachii“) is a three-headed muscle that doesn’t nearly get the attention it deserves in the gym compared to the biceps. Given that your triceps are larger than your biceps, it is essential to train them along with your biceps, to give your arms a proportioned look.

ultimate arms workout

 

The Best Bicep Exercises

 

ultimate arms workout

 

In this section, I will give you a list of the best bicep exercises of an ultimate arms workout that are my personal favourite and have really helped me build biceps that I am proud of. You should definitely incorporate some of these into your own routine. I will give you a summary of bicep exercises then I will break them down, one by one.

Chin-ups (weighted or unweighted)

Alternating Bicep Curls

EZ-Bar Bicep Curls

Hammer Curls

Preacher Curls

Let’s look at each of these individually… 

1. Chin-ups (weighted or unweighted)

ultimate arms workout

The chin-up is one of my personal favourite bicep exercises and one that I struggled with for the first 6 months of my training journey. I couldn’t even do one bodyweight chin-up without assistance! For me, I slowly progressed to full bodyweight chin-ups by using the chin-up assistance machine in the gym and resistance bands.

If you need a really good video to help you progress to your first complete bodyweight chin-up, check out the following 8-week progression video. 

The resistance bands I used as part of my progression during chin-ups, can be purchased from Amazon here. Send me a message if you manage to achieve a single bodyweight chin-up. Once you are able to do 6 – 8 bodyweight chin-ups, add some weight by using a dip belt or hooking a light dumbbell between your feet. 

2. Alternating Bicep Curls

ultimate arms workout

The alternating dumbbell curl has been around since the birth of bodybuilding and it’s not going away anytime soon! It is one of my personal favourite exercises but it wasn’t until I reduced the weight and focused on form and technique, that I started to see results in my biceps. 

This is definitely an “ego lift” with guys so don’t fall into the trap of picking extremely heavy dumbbells that compromise your form. You are not doing yourself any favours. I dropped back to 10 kilogram dumbbells for 1-2 months until I nailed my form, before slowly increasing the weight to 15 kilogram dumbbells. Remember to leave that ego at home… he’s not a good training buddy! 

Here is a video by Scott Herman where he demonstrates how to do single arm / alternating dumbbell curls.

Check it out;

 

3. EZ-Bar Bicep Curls

This is a good alternative to the traditional barbell bicep curl to take some of the load off your wrists. You’ll see an EZ bar floating around in your gym which allow a grip to unload the wrists while maintaining a heavy load on the bar. If you have compromised wrists, the EZ-Bar bicep curl is a great alternative.

 

4. Hammer Curls

ultimate arms workout

You’ll notice this subtle shift in how the dumbbells are held (wrists are turned inward). The hammer curl will help you build the muscle underneath the biceps known as the brachialis. As mentioned earlier, this muscle is what helps to give your biceps “peak” when flexed. I usually include hammer curls in every bicep workout and my hammer curl weight that I lift is around 10 to 12.5 kilograms (per dumbbell). You don’t need to lift heavy to try and prove anything to anyone! (keep that ego at the door).

Check out this demonstration video by Scott Herman for the hammer curl;

 

5. Preacher Curls

ultimate arms workout

Another one of my favourite bicep exercises. As you can see in the photo above, I’m “preaching” with an EZ curl bar with 7.5 kilograms on either side of the bar. What I love about this exercise is that it locks the elbows in place while keeping the tension on the biceps. 

One of the biggest reasons why guys fail to build biceps is due to “swinging” their body into the curl or using other muscles to over-compensate (i.e., the traps), taking the tension off the biceps. With the preacher curl, the tension is kept on the biceps throughout the range of motion. 

Here is a great demonstration video that will teach you how to set-up and execute the preacher curl. Remember to adjust your seat height before you start 🙂

 

Top 5 Bicep Curl Mistakes

Of course, just because you are doing bicep curls, doesn’t mean you are doing them correctly. In order for your biceps to grow in size, you need to ensure you are applying the tweaks necessary to get the most out of the bicep exercises.

It’s important that you pay close attention to how you are performing your exercises. You might be making one or more of the following mistakes which could be stunting your progress.

In Jeremy Ethier’s video below, he perfectly summarises 5 common mistakes beginner’s make when trying to build decent biceps. I’ve made some of these mistakes too. Be sure to watch the video and come back to this article 🙂

Here are the timestamps of the top 5 mistakes from his video:

  1. Allowing other muscles (traps, front delts, and forearms) to take over 0:55
  2. Not doing full range of motion 2:47
  3. Lack of mind-muscle connection 3:43
  4. Not training both the short and long head of the bicep 4:43
  5. Too much volume 5:37

For me, I was really impatient when I was trying to build my biceps and would often do dozens and dozens of curls. When I reduced my volume, the amount of weight I was lifting (leaving my ego at the door), focused on full range of motion, and ensured I maintained a calorie surplus, I started to see a huge shift in my results. 

I have many fitness training courses (completely free), with thousands of reviews, that can also help. 

 

The Best Tricep Exercises

 

As mentioned earlier, more attention needs to be given to developing the triceps over biceps. In this section, I will give you a list of the best tricep exercises that are my personal favourite and have really helped me build that distinct “horseshoe”. There are not many tricep exercises that you need to do to get incredible results. Write down the following list and we will discuss them;

Tricep Push-downs

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Close-Grip Bench Press

Skull Crushers

Bench Dips

 

1. Tricep Push-downs

The tricep push-down is another favourite of mine where you can use either the V-bar, straight-bar or rope grips. Personally, I like to switch grips periodically but definitely include these in your tricep routine.

This video is a great demonstration of how to execute them correctly;

 

2. Seated Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension

This exercise looks extremely intimidating because pushing a dumbbell over the top of your head doesn’t seem like a good idea! When I first started, I used a 5 kilogram dumbbell to learn the basic mechanics of the movement. And my starting position is to rest the dumbbell on my shoulder before launching it above my head. Sometimes, I prefer to stand while doing this exercise. The choice is yours!

Here is a demonstration by Scott Herman in the seated position;

 

3. Close-Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press is one of my favourite exercises for my triceps. It is essentially like a regular bench press except your grip position is within shoulder-width. If I am doing “chest day” then I’ll finish bench press with 2-3 sets of close-grip bench press.

Ensure that your grip position slightly within shoulder-width. Don’t grip the bar with your hands several inches apart because you will excessively strain your wrists, especially with heavier weight.

This is how to correctly perform them;

 

4. Skull Crushers

Probably one of the worst labelled exercises in the gym! Nobody wants to sign up to that! Except, the exercise is not as intense as it seems while also giving your triceps a run for their money. I suggest using an EZ-bar with very light weights to start (5 kilogram plates either side is a good place to start). 

Here is a demonstration video to check out;

 

5. Bench Dips

I usually love doing bench dips as a “finisher” to my triceps workout. If you wish, you can place a 10 or 20 kilogram plate on your lap to add extra resistance. I usually do 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps.

Here is a demonstration video to help you;

 

The Ultimate Arms Workout

I managed to grow my skinny arms over time by incorporating the above exercises into my regular weight lifting routine. As with any other exercise, I suggest that you start off with light weight. Ensure that your technique is correct before you begin adding more weight. Don’t be the meat head you frown upon that trains with his buddy Ego on a regular basis.

For example, the standing overhead dumbbell tricep extension should be executed with a very light dumbbell — before going heavier! The close-grip bench press should be practiced with an empty barbell — before adding any weight.

Over the next 6 – 8 weeks, I want you to try the following arm workout 2 times per week (minimum 48-hours rest between arm workouts) and let me know how you go. I also want you to ensure you are keeping your protein intake high and you are on point with your macronutrient targets (explained in the next section).

I know I sound like a broken record but don’t expect any meaningful results from this workout if you get lazy with your daily protein intake and macro targets. If you can’t achieve your protein and macro targets, please don’t bother with this workout.

Try this…

Ex 1. Alternating Bicep Curls

(2 – 3 Warm-up Sets at 50% working weight, 8 – 10 reps)

(1 – 2 minute recovery before working sets)

1 x working set 6 – 8 reps

(90 seconds rest)

Ex 2. Tricep Push-downs

(2 – 3 Warm-up Sets at 50% working weight, 8 – 10 reps)

(1 – 2 minute recovery before working sets)

1 x working set 6 – 8 reps

(90 seconds rest)

Ex 3. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

1 x working set 6 – 8 reps

(90 seconds rest)

Ex 4. Bench Dips

1 x working set 6 – 8 reps

(90 seconds rest)

REPEAT LIST x 2 TIMES

Optional Exercises (Swap if you wish)

Chin-ups

Try and achieve one!

3 x sets 4 – 6 reps

EZ-Bar Curl

3 x sets 6 – 8 reps

Preacher Curl

3 x sets 6 – 8 reps

Close-Grip Bench Press

3 x sets 6 – 8 reps

Skull Crushers

3 x sets 6 – 8 reps

So an ultimate arms workout is as straight forward as that 🙂 Eventually, you can experiment with higher rep training but, as a beginner, keep your rep range between 6 to 8 reps per set. Whenever you reach 8 reps, increase the weight by 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds) and record it somewhere. Every week, try and increase your weight incrementally on each of these exercises. 

You don’t need to be doing anymore than 3 bicep and 3 tricep exercises (in total), 2 – 3 sets each. You won’t need to do anymore than 12 – 15 direct working sets per arms workout as a natural weightlifter. Anything more than this and you’ll be heading into “junk volume” territory. One of the reasons why my arms were skinny for years was I believed that more volume equals more size! I was wrong… less is more 🙂

I also suggest a rest period of 90 seconds between sets, jumping from a biceps set to a triceps set. I never super-set these exercises! And you only need to do 3 warm-up sets before starting the working sets for biceps and triceps. If you have any questions or not sure of anything, send me a message!

Ultimate Arms Workout Calorie and Macronutrient Targets

 

 

Every article you ever read on the “ultimate arms workout” is fundamentally flawed useless consideration is given to correct calorie and macronutrient intake.

And a high protein intake, day after day, is not the only ingredient to building great biceps (and triceps). Most people are not aware that overall calorie intake is also a major player!

In short, if you are not getting enough overall calories and protein on a daily basis — you will be sorely disappointed by the end of the 6–8 week ultimate arms workout program.

When I was building my biceps and triceps, I had setup my calories and macros on a bulking meal plan to maximise muscle and strength gains. After 8 weeks of bulking, I changed my macros and calories to reflect a cutting meal plan.

After cutting down to 10–12% body fat, I started to see more definition in my biceps and the infamous “horse shoe” triceps but I wanted to build them even more. So I decided to bulk and cut again, while following the exercise routine I share in this article.

There are no short cuts, special supplements, or hidden tricks. I am never going to try and sell you the red pill — just the truth. It takes the right advice, hard work, and patience. But it is totally worth it 🙂

I have many fitness training courses (completely free), with thousands of reviews, that can also help.

 

Ultimate Arms Workout Supplements

 

 

The short answer is… you don’t need to take supplements, provided you have correctly structured your diet and training.

If I were a sponsored athlete, it would be the perfect place in the article to offer discount coupons and a BS rant on the product I was trying to sell.

Most supplement companies produce supplements filled with junk ingredients, proprietary blends, and alluring packaging, to convince you to spend your hard-earned cash.

So while there are no workout supplements that can directly help you build great biceps and triceps for an ultimate arms workout, there are two supplements that I’ve consistently taken over the years to assist in meeting my training goals.

Personally, I am a busy guy that struggles to get all of my protein needs from whole food (i.e., chicken, beef, seafood).

Taking whey protein powder to meet my daily intake requirement has been essential in my workout recovery.

Secondly, creatine monohydrate is the most researched supplement in the sports supplement world. It’s found naturally in the body and in food like red meat.

Hundreds of studies on supplementing with creatine have determined that it will help you build muscle and strengthimprove anaerobic endurance, and reduce muscle soreness and damage.

Therefore, if you have good kidney function then I highly recommend that you supplement with creatine monohydrate. Ignore all other variants of creatine as almost all scientific studies have been conducted on creatine monohydrate.

It’s safe, cheap and very effective.

Ultimate Arms Workout Summary

 

That is all you need for an ultimate arms workout that will get you results. Definitely not as complicated as many other blog posts make it out to be on the matter.

If you dedicate your time to implementing the strategies I used to build my own arms, then you’ll eventually be rewarded for your efforts. It is totally worth the grind 🙂

Let’s recap:

  • Undertake “arms day” twice per week and use this arms workout guide alongside the push-pull-legs training method.
  • You can couple chest day with triceps and back day with biceps, if you wish (this is what I do).
  • Focus on progressively overloading each exercise (adding 2.5 kilograms, or 5 pounds, to each exercise, each week)
  • Set up your ultimate arms workout calorie and macronutrient targets (I used these “bulking” meal plans while building my arms)
  • Follow the arms training plan for 6 – 8 weeks, using FitNotes or a spreadsheet to track training progress
  • Patience! It takes time as a natural weightlifter but you’ve got this…! If I can do it, you can do it too!

Let me know how your ultimate arms workout journey goes! Feel free to email me any before and after photos of your journey 🙂

Lastly, if you want to take your fitness transformation to another level, check out my free fitness training videos.

 

What is your favourite ultimate arms workout?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

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