Let’s clear the air on one aspect of arm training: it may be possible to build large arms with three sets of biceps and three sets of triceps exercises, but it hasn’t often been done. I have only known one case where a pair of large arms were developed on such a limited schedule, but those arms were “naturally” large to begin with!
To build arms, really build them, you need to work on a regular basis using about 10 – 15 sets for biceps and 10 – 15 sets for triceps – minimum! Some experts may disagree with this. So be it. I have no axe to grind. My recommendations are based solely on observation and experience.
Perhaps one day there will be a concentrated training method that can activate the deepest muscle fibres of the arms with just one set of exercises. Ultimately, technology may allow us to “hit them” completely with a few seconds of exhausting stimulation, but until someone invents it, be prepared to perform plenty of quality sets and reps.
When you compare the bodybuilders of the 40’s and 50’s with the champions of today, you can see that arm development has advanced more than the development of other body parts.
We have come a long way from the Greek ideal by which the neck, calf, and flexed upper arm were considered to be in perfect harmony if they measured the same. Until the middle of this century most top bodybuilders aimed for this ideal and more or less achieved it. Steve Reeves achieved a calf, upper arm, and neck development of 18 inches; so did John Grimek, Clancy Ross, Roy Hilligen, Armand Tanny, Reg Park, and scores of others.
Today we have title winners with 17-inch calves and necks but 20-inch arms. Some have an even greater differential. The purists – and perhaps in my heart of hearts I am one, too – greatly disparage this new trend. “It is wrong”, they say. “No man should have upper arms that much bigger than his calves.” Right or wrong, the trend is with us. It is in vogue to have huge upper arms, and many bodybuilders feel: the bigger the better.
It is good idea to work upper arms with at least one heavy exercise and one or two lighter, pumping movements.
For the biceps, the best heavy or “quality” movements are:
1. Barbell curl
2. Incline dumbbell curl
3. Seated dumbbell curl
For the triceps, the best heavy or “quality” movements are:
1. Close – grip EZ curl bar bench press
2. Parallel bar dips
3. Lying triceps barbell stretch
It is recommended that you begin your biceps and triceps routines with one of these quality exercises.
Let me give you some idea of how some of the big – armed men of muscledom start their biceps routines. Robby Robinson, Mike Mentzer, Roy Callender, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Ed Corney, Dave Draper, Rick Wayne, all begin with the basic barbell curl. Guys like Kal Szkalak, Samir Bannout, Greg DeFerro, Tom Platz, Mike Katz, Danny Padilla begin with seated or incline dumbbell curls.
Remember what I said: quality first.
When it comes to triceps, there are literally hundreds of movements for this area. Serge Nubret, who has outstanding arms, begins his routine with the lying triceps stretch, and so do Danny Padilla, Kal Szkalak, and Lou Ferrigno.
Larry Scott, who for years had the world’s biggest arms begins his triceps workout with the narrow – grip EZ curl bar bench press, as do Tom Platz, Frank Zane, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Again, quality first.
There is one triceps exercise that virtually everybody uses in his routine: no doubt it is such a favorite because it seems like such a “pure” exercise. Right now I cannot think of a single champion who does not use it regularly. The stress is pretty even throughout the movement, and no appreciable balance is needed to perform a set. Although this isolation exercise is popular and gets you a good pump, it is not a size builder in the sense of a combination or “natural” exercise such as the close – grip bench press or the parallel bar dip. As one expert said, “You want big triceps? Go for parallel bar dips. When you can do 20 reps with a 100 – pound dumbbell hanging from your waist, you’ll have ’em.”….
Build Large Arms – Biceps and Triceps by Raimonda Vazgys