20-Minute Arms Workout

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One of the smartest ways to add muscle mass to your upper arms quickly is to hit your biceps and triceps hard with moves that work them from multiple angles and through varying rep ranges.

This approach will recruit and tax many more muscle fibres in your upper arms – the key to stimulating faster muscle mass growth. But that doesn’t mean training to exhaustion: choose the right approach and you’ll be able to train hard but efficiently, so you can get it done and start the recovery process that will lead to bigger and stronger arms.

That’s where this workout comes in. It consists of three antagonistic supersets, which means the first move of each superset works your biceps and the second hits your triceps. This approach is proven to work your muscles harder in less time.

What’s more, the sets and reps change with each superset as the workout progresses, which means you’ll tap into both fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibres to make bigger gains in less time.

How it works

Do this arms-building workout twice a week for a month, for a total of eight times over the next four weeks. Leave at least three days between sessions.

The moves are paired into three supersets: the first exercise of each superset all work the biceps, while the second move of each superset targets the triceps.

Do all the stated reps of 1A, rest for 30-40 seconds, then do all the reps of 1B and rest for another 30-40 seconds. Repeat this pattern for the stated number of sets, then move on to the second superset and so on.

The number of sets per superset decreases as the workout advances while the number of reps increases, an approach that will recruit and fatigue more muscle fibres, resulting in greater growth.

Maintain perfect form for each lift, moving your muscles through a full range of motion and keeping the reps controlled to maximise muscle activation.

1A Chin-up


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Sets 5 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 30sec

Grasp a chin-up bar with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. With your core braced and chest up, pull your chin until it’s higher than the bar. Lower under control to a dead hang.

1B Triceps dip

Triceps dip

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Sets 5 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 30sec

Grip parallel bars with your chest up and body tensed. Slowly lower yourself by bending your elbows, then press back up powerfully without locking your elbows at the top.

2A Cable rope curl

Cable rope curl

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Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 40sec

Hold a rope cable handle with palms facing, elbows tucked in to your sides. Keeping your chest up, curl the handle up and turn your wrists so your palms face you as you reach the top. Lower back to the start under control.

2B Rope press-down

Rope press-down

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Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 40sec

Stand tall holding a rope cable handle with palms facing. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, press your hands down so they go either side of your thighs. Slowly return to the start.

3A EZ-bar biceps curl

EZ-bar biceps curl

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Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Hold an EZ-bar with an underhand grip, arms straight and elbows tucked in to your sides. Keeping your chest up, curl the bar up, then lower back to the start under control.

3B EZ-bar triceps extension

EZ-bar triceps extension

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Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Stand tall holding an EZ-bar above your head with an overhand grip, arms straight. Keeping your elbows fixed in place, slowly lower the bar behind your head, then press it back up powerfully.

Photography: Tom Miles. Model: Sean Lerwill @WModels. Thanks to Ultimate Performance

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.