These Are Some of the Best Exercises to Help You Build Big Arms

With the amount of workout plans out there that target your upper body, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the basics.

For guys who really want to push their training to the next level, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the more complicated an exercise is, the better it will be for making gains—but when you have goals as simple as building arm muscle, sometimes a simple plan will have the most impact.

If you’re looking for no-frills, back-to-basics workout moves that will target your biceps, triceps, and forearms, you can keep it simple and still find success. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites to help you build big arms in your upper body workouts.

Biceps Curls
3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

The basic, tried-and-true biceps curl is the key to big biceps.

To do it right, squeeze your shoulder blades, glutes and abs. Keep everything tight. Keep your uppers arms perpendicular to the ground, locking in your lats. Take out any rock/momentum from your waist. Keep it all in your biceps.

To clean up your movement, you can lower down into a high-kneeling stance. The position will make the move harder (since you won’t be able to use your lower body to cheat) and improve your posture. As you curl up, squeeze your biceps and turn the dumbbell toward the sky (parallel to the ground). The more rotation, the more you’re working your bicep. Want an even tougher challenge? Add an isometric hold to the rep at its halfway point. Count a 2 to 5 second hold.

Spiderman Curls
3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

The spiderman curl eliminates all momentum to really target your biceps.

Start on a bench with a 45-degree angle. Your body should be strong and sturdy on your stomach, with your chest high on the bench. Squeeze your glutes to keep pressure off your lower back. Squeeze your shoulder blades, keeping your chest up.

Keep your upper arm angle perpendicular to the ground the whole time. As you curl up, rotate your pinky up. Squeeze your bicep at the top with a forward rotation to keep your shoulder protected.

Skull Crushers
4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

The skull crusher will help pack muscle to your triceps.

With a bar, isolate that skull crusher motion without any aid from momentum. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Lie back on the bench and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. This is your strong base. Don’t let your ribcage flare. Keep your abs tight. Drive your shoulder blades into the bench. Lower the weight and squeeze your triceps to create tension. Keep your wrists strong and maintain a 90 to 92 degree angle an inch from your head. Keep your elbows tight and in, squeezing your triceps at the top for 1 second.

Close Grip Pushups
3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

The close grip pushup targets your triceps—and is a much safer option than a diamond pushup, which can allow for potentially dangerous internal rotation at the shoulder.

Squeeze through your glutes and core as you get in position. Look straight toward the ground. Get your hands narrower than shoulder width, with your hands facing forward. Turn your lats on by turning your elbows forward. Lower as you would with a pushup, keeping your elbows as tight to your torso as possible. Keep your forearms as close to perpendicular tot he ground as possible.

3 set of 15 reps

The pushup is the perfect bodyweight move.

Start in a pushup position with your glutes and abs squeezed. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders with your hands screwed in with some external rotation. Look down at the ground. Engage your midback and squeeze your shoulder blades. Lower down, keeping your elbows close to the torso. Push all the way up. If you need to modify, use a bench.

Farmer’s Carry
4 sets of 40 seconds

The farmer’s carry boils down to carrying a heavy load while walking that builds muscle in the back, forearms and core.

To set up, mimic a deadlift. Tighten your core and stand up with your weights. Grip your weights aggressively. Keep the weights level. Squeeze your glutes and keep your pelvis neutral. Squeeze your abs and draw your ribcage in. Roll your shoulders back to turn on your lower lats and rhomboids. Keep your neck in a neutral position as you walk straight ahead.

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