Whenever you do any sort of pulling motion you activate your biceps and your triceps. These muscles get a lot of work when you do compound exercises, so you should limit the number of sets you do when doing isolation exercises. Dedicate yourself to training your arm and make sure that you train as intensely as possible with a low number of sets. Also, you will need to brush up on your anatomy to make sure that you know what you’re doing.
The two movements executed by the heads of the biceps are the elbow flexion and the forearm rotation movement. The bicep has two heads – a long one and a short one, and while they have different origins, they join together to form a tendon, attached to a radius. However, your biceps can tire out relatively quickly, and they keep pressure on the front deltoid as well as your anterior forearm muscle, which helps them keep up. If you want to do what’s best for your biceps, use both flexion and supination movements instead of just one.
The triceps, in turn, are made up of three heads, which is how they get their name. Triceps take up a larger portion of your arm and are equally complicated to understand as the biceps. Their main function is extending your elbow, but definitely not their only one. A lot of people want to get the “horseshoe” shape in their triceps, and you can do this by working on its lateral and long heads, while the medial head is a deeper muscle and cannot be seen on the surface directly. All three heads of the triceps originate in different places, but they all end up in the elbow. For instance, the long head of your triceps starts near your scapula, so in order to isolate it, you have to lift your elbow over your head.
Here are the 12 exercises you will definitely want to do at least once per week.
1. Spider Curls
Begin this exercise by putting the bar on the sitting part of the preacher bench. Make sure it’s balanced so it doesn’t fall off. Then, step to the forward part of the bench, where you would usually put your arms and lay on your stomach at 45 degrees against the front side of the bench. Your feet and more importantly your toes, have to be well positioned on the floor and your upper arms need to be on top of the inside pad on the preacher bench. Then, take the barbell or dumbbells while holding a supinated grip with your palms upwards. Your arms should be about as wide as your shoulders or a bit closer, but never wider. Lift and exhale, hold for a second and squeeze your biceps, after which you should bring the bar or dumbbells down, while breathing in. Do 4 sets of spider curls, with 12, 8, 6 and 15 reps each, respectively.
2. Incline Dumbbell Curls
Sit on an incline bench and have two dumbbells in your hands, at arm’s length. Your elbows need to be close to your body and your palms need to be facing forward. Remember, nothing above your elbow should move. You are curling the weights forward and contracting your biceps. Breathe out while you curl upwards and breathe in as you lower the weights back up. When you’ve raised the dumbbells to shoulder level, hold that position for a second and bring them back down. Do incline dumbbell curls for 2 sets of 8 reps each and a final set of 6 reps each.
3. Barbell Curls
Stand with a barbell in your hands at shoulder width and with your back straight. Your palms should be facing forward and your elbows should be close to your body. Contract the biceps and lift the barbell, moving only your forearms while breathing out. Lift into a curl until your biceps are completely contracted and the bar is at your shoulders, then hold the position for a second and squeeze your biceps. Bring the bar down and breathe in. Do barbell curls for 2 sets of 8 reps each and a final set of 12 reps.
4. Preacher Curls
Get an EZ curl bar and find a preacher bench. Hold the E-Z bar at the close inner handle. If possible, have someone hand you the bar, or you can take it from the front bar rest installed in a lot of preacher benches. Your palms should be facing forwards and they should be tilted just a little bit inward to adjust to the bar’s shape. Your upper arms need to be placed on the preacher bench pad, as well as your chest. Your starting position should be your E-Z curl bar in your hands, at shoulder length. Breathe in and lower the bar until your biceps are completely stretched and your arms are fully straight. Exhale and curl the weight back up with your biceps until they are completely contracted and the bar is positioned at shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps and keep that position for a second. Do one dropset of preacher curls until you reach muscle failure.
5. Triceps Pushdown
Get a rope, a straight bar or an angled one and attach your handle of choice to a high pulley. Take it with an overhand grip with your palms facing down. Your grip should be as wide as your shoulders, and your back should be straight with a slight tilt forward. Your upper arms should be close to your torso and at a 90 degree angle to the floor, while your forearms should be pointing upwards towards the pulley, holding the bar or rope. While exhaling, pull the bar down with your triceps until it touches your thighs and your arms are completely extended and holding a 90 degree angle to the floor. Your upper arms should stay right next to your torso, completely immobile. Hold the position for a second and breathe in while you bring the bar or rope back to its starting position. Do 4 sets of triceps pushdowns – the first one with 12 reps and three consecutive ones with 8 reps each.
6. Seated Triceps Press
Sit on a bench that will let you support your back on it. Take a dumbbell in both of your hands and hold it over your head with your arms outstretched. The intensity should be in your palms, while they face inwards. Keep your arms close to your head with your elbows inside, perpendicular to the floor. Breathe in and lower the dumbbell behind your head in a semi-circular movement until your forearms connect with your biceps. Breathe out and raise the dumbbell to its starting position. Do 3 sets of seated triceps presses with the first set having 10 reps and the last two having 8 reps each.
7. Low Cable Triceps Extensions
Choose your weight and lay down on the bench of a seated row machine with a rope. Your head should be on the side of the machine, not away from it. Take the ends of the rope with your palms facing each other in a neutral grip and have your forearms perpendicular to your upper arms, which should be perpendicular themselves, in relation to your torso. Breathe out and extend your lower arms until they are completely vertical and straight. Your upper arms and elbows should be stationary all the way through the exercise, with only your forearms moving. When you reach the peak of the movement, contract your triceps, breathe in and return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of low cable triceps extensions with 12 reps each, as well as a final set of 15 reps.
8. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
Lie down on a flat bench and get dumbbells in your hands. Your arms should be fully extended and perpendicular to your body. Your palms should be facing in and towards each other, and they should be tucked in. Breathe in and lower the dumbbells until they are near the sides of your head without moving anything below the elbow, so only the forearms should move. Breathe out and lift with your triceps back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of lying dumbbell triceps extensions, with the first two having 15 reps each and the last one 20 reps.
9. Seated Palms-Down Barbell Wrist Curl
Take a barbell with both of your hands and your palms facing downwards. Your hands should be positioned at shoulder width and your feet should be flat on the floor and a bit wider. Lean forwards and put your forearms on your upper thighs, still keeping your downward grip. Holding tightly, inhale and lower the bar as quickly as possible. Then, curl the weight up as high as possible while flexing your forearms, which should still be positioned on your thighs without moving. Hold the contraction for a second and go back to the starting position. Do seated palms-down barbell wrist curls for 4 sets of 25 reps.
10. Standing Palms-Up Barbell Behind The Back Wrist Curl
While the name might be a mouthful, it’s a relatively simple exercise. Stand with a straight back and a barbell behind your glutes at arm length. You will need to use a pronated grip in this exercise, which means your palms should be facing away from your body, and your hands should be apart at shoulder width. Look straight forward with your feet at shoulder width as well. Exhale and lift the barbell with a little curl in your wrist and a semi-circular movement upwards. Hold the contraction for a second, then inhale and lower the barbell to its starting position. Do this exercise for 3 sets of 15 reps each, and when you’re done make sure to put the barbell down on the squat rack or the floor while bending your knees, because it would be rather difficult to do it otherwise.
11. Reverse Barbell Curls
Stand with a straight back and hold a barbell at shoulder width, and your elbows tightly packed in. Your palms should be facing down for a pronated grip. While keeping your upper arms stationary, curl the weights and contract your biceps while breathing out. Your forearms are the only part of your body that should move in this exercise. Keep doing the movement until your biceps are completely contracted and the bar is at shoulder height. Hold the position for a second and squeeze your biceps. Breathe in and slowly put the bar back down to its previous position. Do 3 sets of reverse barbell curls for 15 reps each!
12. Hammer Curls
Stand with a straight back and a dumbbell in each of your palms, at arm’s length. Your elbows should be close to your body, but not packed in. Keep your upper arm stationary, exhale and lift the weight in a curl while contracting your biceps and keep lifting it until it’s fully contracted. At this point, the dumbbells should be at shoulder height. Keep this position for a second and squeeze your biceps. After a second, inhale and lower the dumbbells down into their starting position. Do up to two sets of hammer curls, all the way to muscle failure!
With this stunning workout, you will be well on your way to creating the perfect arms. All you need to do is keep both your biceps and triceps under sufficient intensity which will, in turn, provide stress on the muscle, which will create micro-tears in the tissue and make your muscle grow. Also, you will need to keep a quick pace in your exercises – don’t let your arms rest and they will be magnificent! Everyone needs to realize that they’ve been training their arms a lot every single week without specifically performing arm work. When you do a pressing move, you use your triceps, but the same is valid for your biceps as well. This is crucial to remember in your quest for well developed arms!