Looking for some great arm workouts to gift you big arms? You’ve come to the right place.
Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but having big arms can also indicate one has some serious strength and is able to lift heavier objects with ease. Naturally, to build up the size of your arms, you need to complete a series of arm exercises to help target these muscle groups.
But, while it is possible to target these muscle groups with a series of arm workouts, you’ll benefit far more from adding in some other movements, such as compound exercises, to build up strength in the rest of your body, which can further help you with lifting heavier weights.
These are some of the best arm exercises you can include in your workout routines that will have your arms busting out of your t-shirts in no time.
Looking for further workout inspiration? Check out our complete guide to workouts for men here.
In this story…
- What Muscles Are In The Arms?
- Best Arm Workouts Tip & Tricks
- Best Arm Workouts & Arm Exercises
- Best Biceps Exercises
- Best Triceps Exercises
- Best Forearm Exercises
- Other Best Arm Exercises
What Muscles Are In The Arms?
Understanding what muscles are in the arms shouldn’t prove much difficulty for many. You’ve got the biceps and triceps, which make up the main bulk of the upper arm. There is also the deltoid muscle, which is essentially your shoulder, along with the muscles in the forearm which aid with moving the wrist and hand.
However, as we mentioned earlier, other muscle groups are brought into play to assist with moving the arm, such as your chest muscles (the pecs). Your lats in your back also play a part, and the rotator cuff muscles which attach to the scapula in the upper arm, aid with moving the shoulder.
This is why it is important to not place the sole focus on just the biceps and triceps.
Best Arm Workouts Tip & Tricks
Because you’re likely aiming for size rather than outright strength with arm exercises, you’ll want to perform a higher number of reps to enter a hypertrophy state. Because a higher number of reps is required, it is perfectly ok to use a lighter weight than you would normally go for.
After all, it’s far more beneficial to complete all reps effectively, than to only perform a few of them before feeling fatigued. Leave the ego at the door and you’ll soon reap the reward.
Best Arm Workouts & Arm Exercises
Before you even think about picking up a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, it’s important you warm up first. The easiest and most effective way to warm up your arms for your arm workout is to perform similar moves to the ones in your routine, but just with much lighter weights.
These can include bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and arm rotations, with your elbow kept close to your body, and rotating your forearm from facing forward around to your side in a 90 degree angle.
Resistance bands are also a great piece of equipment to use, and you can use these to perform standing band pull aparts, or rotating your arms from out in front of your, over your head and out behind you, to prime your rotator cuff muscles.
With your body warmed up, you can move onto performing some serious lifting.
Best Biceps Exercises
Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Starting with everyone’s favourite and most obvious arm workout, the bicep curl. Bicep curls can be performed using a straight barbell, and ez bar or a pair of dumbbells, and within that, you can perform them standing, you can sit on a bench, or you can perform what is known as the concentration curl (which we’ll talk about a little later).
It’s important you perform bicep curls slowly in order to place the maximum amount of tension on the muscle, and that you complete a full range of motion without using any swing for momentum.
How to perform: Standing with your feet and hands shoulder width apart, take hold of either a barbell, an ez bar of a pair of dumbbells. An ez bar is the best piece of equipment to use to help prevent injury to your wrists.
With your arms straight down in front of your thighs, curl the barbell or dumbbells up, bending at the elbow, until your hands meet your shoulders. If performing a dumbbell curl, you can elect to curl your arms in an alternate fashion.
Slowly lower the dumbbells or barbell back to the starting position to complete one rep. As previously mentioned, you want to try and avoid using any bend in the knees to help provide some momentum to swing the dumbbells or barbell up, as this will take tension away from the muscles in the upper arm.
Sets: 4 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set. If alternating dumbbell curls, perform 10 to 12 reps per arm.
Tempo: 3 seconds up, 1 second down
As mentioned earlier, the concentration curl is one of the best arm exercises for giving you some serious bicep peaks. When you’re performing this move, it literally looks like you’re concentrating on it the whole time, hence the name.
How to perform: Sit on a bench and take a dumbbell in one hand, holding it with an underhand grip. Rest your elbow on the inside of the knee of the same side you’re holding your dumbbell.
Starting with your arm straight down, curl your arm upwards until your hand gets close to your shoulder. Hold here for a second and squeeze, before extending your arm back down to the starting position.
Sets: 3 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set
Tempo: 3 seconds up, 1 second down
The EZ-Bar curl makes targeting your biceps pretty damn easy. The undulating bar allows for a semi-supinated grip that helps to isolate your biceps more effectively than if you were to use a straight barbell or a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform: To perform the EZ-Bar curl, you simply need to grab yourself an EZ-Bar (your gym should have one), load some weight on the ends and hold it using the sections of that handle that cause your wrists to rotate slightly inwards.
Standing shoulder-width apart, start with the bar down in front of your thighs. Curl the EZ-Bar upwards until it meets your chest, making sure you keep your elbows in at your sides throughout the duration.
Sets: 4 sets with 12 reps per set
Tempo: 2 seconds up, 1 second down
Best Triceps Exercises
Triceps Extension / Skull Crusher
Performing triceps extensions lying down, also known as skull crushers, are one of the best arm exercises for building up the triceps muscles. By lying down, you isolate the muscles to do all of the work – although your core does get a bit of benefit too – allowing you to build up incredibly well defined triceps in no time.
How to perform: Lie down on a bench and take either a dumbbell in each hand, a plate weight or an ez bar. Dumbbells are probably the best piece of equipment for this arm exercise, because they cause each arm to individually move the weight involved.
Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip – palms facing inwards – and start with your arms straight up above your head. Bend your elbows so that the dumbbells move behind your head until you feel a good stretch in your triceps.
Hold here for a second, before extending your arms back up to their starting position to complete one rep.
Sets: 3 to 4 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set
Tempo: 3 seconds lowering, 1 second return
Close Grip Push-Up
Another arm exercise to torch the triceps is the close grip push-up. It takes a conventional push-up, but sees you placing your hands close to your body, putting extra focus on the triceps muscles.
How to perform: Get yourself in a regular push-up position, but place your hands so they’re inside shoulder width. Lower your body down until your chest is nearly hitting the floor and push back up, forcing your hands into the ground.
You should feel a serious burn in your triceps. Push yourself up until you’re back in your starting position.
Sets: 3 sets with 8 to 10 reps per set
Tempo: You can go at your own pace, but the slower and more controlled, the better
To get even more definition in your triceps, the triceps kickback is one of the essential arm exercises you need to add to your routine.
How to perform: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet shoulder width apart and lean forward slightly. You can hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards) or an overhand grip (palms facing forward).
Start with dumbbells below your stomach, slightly above your knees. Making sure you keep your upper arms close to your body, straighten your arms until they are parallel with your body. When you reach the end of the movement, with your arms straight, hold for a second to apply extra pressure to the triceps.
Slowly return to the starting position to complete one rep.
Sets: 4 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set
Tempo: 3 seconds extending, 1 second return
Best Forearm Exercises
When it comes to arm workouts, your biceps and triceps steal most of the limelight, but what about your forearms? That’s where the reverse curl comes in. Not only does this monster of an arm exercise work your biceps still, but it places extra focus on your forearms, and even your grip strength. This not only provide plenty of benefits in the real world, but it enables you to eventually lift heavier weights, because your grip is able to sustain heavier loads.
How to perform: You can perform a reverse curl using either a straight barbell or an EZ bar. As with other curling movements, the EZ bar takes away some of the strain placed on your wrists, but it will likely come down to personal preference. What is unlike other curling movements, however, is that you’re not going to be able to reverse curl the same weight that you biceps curl, so forget about even trying, at least not until your strength improves.
Load up your bar with a light weight (you can even start using just the weight of the bar to begin with) and hold it at shoulder-width with an overhand grip. Start with your arms down in front of you and the bar close to your thighs, then curl the bar up as you would a regular curling movement, i.e. until your hands meet you shoulders. Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position to complete one rep.
Sets: 4 sets with 8 – 10 reps per set
Tempo: 3 seconds up, 3 seconds down
Other Best Arm Exercises
The bench press is one of those movements that works multiple muscle groups. Not only does it target the chest, but your arms also stand to benefit from the movement, making it a truly versatile exercise that you have to include in your workout routine.
To help further target your arm muscles in particular, you can perform a close grip bench press, which sees your moving your hands to inside shoulder width, and performing in the same way.
How to perform: Lie down on a bench with a bench press rack. Grab the bar using an overhand grip and with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width (unless performing a close grip version of the move).
Lock your shoulder blades down, bring your feet close to the bench for stabilisation. Raise the bar off the rack and slowly lower it down towards your chest, until it is a few centimetres away from your sternum.
Pushing yourself down into the bench and your feet into the floor, slowly return the bar back up to the starting position. When viewed from the side, you want to see the barbell moving up and down in a smooth vertical motion.
Sets: 4 sets with 8 to 10 reps per set
Tempo: 2 seconds down, 3 seconds up
The overhead press predominately works the shoulders, but since a set of big biceps will look out of proportion to a small set of shoulders, it’s a move you need to include in your workout routine to get you really popping out of your t-shirts.
The overhead press can be performed using a barbell, or you can perform a dumbbell overhead press, which can place extra emphasis on the shoulder muscles since you’re using individual weights
How to perform: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Holding a dumbbell in each hand (or a barbell with an overhand grip) start with holding them above your shoulders.
Keeping your elbows facing forward, extend your arms and push the dumbbells up above you until your arms are straight. Return to the starting position above your shoulders to complete one rep.
As you get further into the reps, you may find them slightly more difficult to perform. If this happens, either drop the weight, or use the bend in your knees to give you a small push of energy to help you get the dumbbells up above you.
Sets: 4 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set
Tempo: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down
Cable Bicep Curl
Bicep curls are often men’s favorite arm exercises, and they make it very easy to build some muscle. If you perform them using the cable machine, the constant tension can do wonders for your muscles. Your biceps will be on fire, but you’ll be thankful for it later.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: To perform this exercise, you will have to attack the rope extension to a low pulley cable. Then, you must choose the weight you wish to use on the stack. Keep your legs shoulder-width apart, and then face the cable machine in a standing position.
Grab the rope extension. Your thumbs should face your body. After taking a deep breath, you should keep your elbows by your sides while curling the rope very slowly. Do it up as far as you can. Then, squeeze your bicep muscles when the top of the movement is reached, and then go back to the initial position.
Sets: 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 3-4 seconds per rep, 1-2-second return
Dive Bomber Pushup
The dive bomber pushup can be a wonderful way to build some strength in your arm muscles. If you think you need more force and resistance, then these push-ups are the way to go. What’s even better is that they do not require the use of any equipment. So, when you’re not going to the gym, you can easily do these exercises at home.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Go into a pushup position, then push your hands into the floor. Then, drive your weight back, making your hips rise. At the same time, your back should be sitting straight, while your head goes behind your hands.
Continue by lowering your body in an arcing motion, making your chest scoop downward and get close to the floor. While pressing your body up, keep moving forward, making your torso sit vertically while your legs sit straight on the floor.
Sets: 4-5 sets of 15 reps
Tempo: 2-3 seconds per rep
Incline Hammer Curl
Dumbbell exercises are a great way to build your arm muscles, and this curl exercise is one of the many variations including dumbbells. It can be a great exercise to include in your arm routine, especially if you are looking for something a bit easier while challenging your muscles.
This particular workout will also include an incline bench, which places the focus fully on your arms.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Find an available incline bench and grab two dumbbells. You will have to hold a dumbbell in each hand while sitting on the bench. Once you get into the right position, keep the upper arm still and make sure your palms are facing inwards. Then, lift the dumbbells until they reach your shoulders.
In the end, bring the arms back down and repeat the movement.
Sets: 3 sets of 10 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds per rep, 1-second return
There are many ways to use a cable station for your arms if you’re a bit creative and know which muscle groups are activated by each type of exercise. The workout will be intense enough for your arm muscles to develop, but it will also be enjoyable.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: First things first, find an available cable station. Then, attach a rope handle to the top pulley, and grasp an end in each hand. Your palms should be facing each other.
In order to place some tension on the cable, take a step back. Now, pull the handles to the forehead while your palms face your ears. Your upper back body should be fully contracted.
Return to the initial position at the end. This will be one rep.
Sets: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds per rep, 1-2-second return
Once again, you will have to take advantage of dumbbells to do this exercise. On top of being a great break from your more intense workouts, it can help build your muscles and increase your strength, making things easier when you’re performing more demanding exercises.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Grab two dumbbells of the desired weight. Then, begin by setting yourself in the top position of a pushup. Your hands should be on your dumbbells and sit shoulder-width apart.
Next, row one dumbbell toward your body’s side. In the meantime, your body will be balanced on the other hand and your feet, which will remain on the ground. Then, take a 1-second break at the top, after which you will go back to the start position. Do the same thing on the other side.
Sets: 3-4 sets with 10 reps
Tempo: 3-seconds per rep, 2-second return
Straight Barbell Palms-down Wrist Curl
This particular exercise will be a bit demanding for your wrists, but you won’t regret doing it. It’s quite a subtle move, yet it can have a huge impact. It focuses on the extensor muscles, which can help you avoid potential elbow and wrist injuries when doing other moves.
Bear in mind that this is not an exercise meant to help you show off. You should still concentrate and make sure you do it correctly.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Look for an empty bench and sit down. Make sure you have a barbell available. While sitting down, hold the barbell while your palms face the floor. Using your knees as support for your forearms, lower the bar towards the floor. Do it as far as you can.
Meanwhile, curl your wrist upward and pause for a moment, then curl it lower slowly.
Sets: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds for each rep
If you loved climbing monkey bars in parks as a child, then this exercise will be a piece of cake for you. Not only is it fun, but it can also help with your arm condition, ensuring you reach your arm muscle goals.
Now, while you can still do this on park monkey bars, you can also do it in the gym if there are any suitable bars available.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Find some available bars and begin the exercise by grabbing the bar with both hands. The hands should face the bars. Move one hand forward, then move the other. If you want, you can move laterally too by facing perpendicular to the bars and reaching from one side. You will simply bring the other hand over when doing this version of the exercise.
Sets: 2 sets of 5 reps on each side
Tempo: 5-6 seconds per rep
Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension
Here’s a little bit of a challenging exercise. This workout involves the use of a barbell, and it also requires a bit of force and strength on your part. It may be demanding in the beginning, so you can start with fewer reps, then slowly build your way up as your strength increases.
When you use a barbell overhead instead of dumbbells, it provides a better grip. At the top of the rep, you can snap the barbell using your strength. It will have a positive impact on multiple fibers.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Take a barbell and grab it. Hold it with both hands over your head. Your hands should be almost touching each other, while your palms should face forward.
Continue by bending your elbows, which will slowly help lower the bar behind your head. At the same time, your upper arms should be stationary and when one of the elbows reaches 90 degrees, pause, and then go back to the initial position.
Sets: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
Tempo: 4-5 seconds per rep, 2-3-second return
Farmer’s carry is a very fun exercise for anyone looking for something to do between difficult arm workouts. It will require some kettlebells or dumbbells, depending on which ones are available or which ones work best for you. It’s not as demanding as other exercises, but it does the job beautifully, and you’ll see results very fast.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Find a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells. Then, stand between them, just like they were suitcases. After that, squat at the hips and lift the weights, but make sure you are not bending at the back in the meantime.
Now, walk a short distance, and gradually increase the weights or the distances. You can walk once or twice around the room.
Sets: 3-4 sets of 10 reps
Tempo: 6-7 seconds per rep (may change depending on the distance walked)
Towel Pull-up and Chin-up
Did you know that you can increase your arm strength and improve your muscles with a simple towel? Yes, that little piece of material that you use to wipe your sweat off between sets can also work as a workout tool. All you need aside from the towel is a pull-up bar.
How to Perform This Arm Exercise: Find an available pull-up bar and drape a towel over it. Then, grab one end of the towel in each hand, hold it tightly, and pull up.
When you want to do chin-ups, you will have to drape two gum towels over the pullup bar instead of one. Grip the towels and pull up, performing the chin-ups with the towels instead of the bar.
Sets: 3-4 sets with 7-12 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds per rep