This Full Arm Workout Is Tough But Effective
No part of your arms gets off lightly with this muscle-building session which hits every head in your biceps and triceps, and works your forearms for good measure
Are you planning on building bigger arms in the gym this winter? Then you need to listen to this advice from George Palmer (opens in new tab), a London-based PT. He says that it’s important to make sure your programme is targeting all of the main muscle groups in your arms, including the biceps, triceps and forearms.
“Don’t neglect any of these if you want the arms of a beast,” says Palmer. “Your triceps and biceps are made up of several heads. The triceps has three: the lateral, medial and long heads. The biceps have two: the long and short heads. Hence the prefixes ‘tri’ and ‘bi’. When planning an arm workout ask yourself if you’re hitting all of these heads. If not, then tweak it to ensure you are.” Or just follow this workout Palmer has devised exclusively for Coach.
Full Arms Workout
This workout requires a dipping station, pull-up bar, weights bench, dumbbells and EZ-bar so get yourself down to your local gym.
To help your arms to grow, Palmer has employed a number of techniques you’ll need to follow to get the most out of this workout.
The first four exercises are programmed as two supersets, where you perform a set of the first exercise, then the second. Repeat that sequence until all the sets are completed, then move on to the second superset. Palmer has given a rep range of eight to 14 to help this workout match a range of strength levels and recommends adding more weight with each set to ensure you overload your muscles.
The final two exercises are performed as straight sets, but using the 21s method. In 21s workouts you spend seven reps doing the first half of the movement, seven reps doing the second half of the movement, then finish with seven reps of the full movement.
1 Triceps dip
Using a dip station or parallel bars, take hold of the bars with your hands shoulder-width apart and extend your arms to lift yourself off the floor. Keep your shoulders pulled back and down and do not let them shrug forwards. Brace your core, straighten your back and neck, tuck your elbows in to your sides and extend your legs and point your toes straight down (or bend at the knee if the bars aren’t high enough). Breathe in and slowly bend your elbows to 90°, lowering with control. Pause for a second, then breathe out as you push upwards into your starting position. Use a loaded dipping belt to add weight in subsequent sets.
2 Triceps kick-back
Reps: 8-14 each side
Stand side-on to a flat weight bench and place your closest hand on the end and the closest knee and foot on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in your free hand, with your elbow bent and tucked in to your torso. Lean your torso forwards, ensuring your hips and chest are square to the floor. Keeping your upper arm fixed in position, breathe out and straighten your elbow to lift the dumbbell. Pause for a second, then breathe in as you lower the dumbbell under control.
Grasp a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Your arms and legs should be straight with toes pointed down. Brace your core and keep your shoulders pulled down and back, then breathe out and explosively pull your body up until your chin is over the bar at the top. Keep your legs as still as possible and avoid swinging them. Pause for a second at the top when the biceps are under maximum tension, then lower slowly to the start.
“If this is too easy,” Palmer says, “add weight with a dipping belt for your remaining sets. If it’s too hard, try a resistance band assisted chin-up, challenging yourself to use a lighter band as you progress through sets.”
4 Concentration curl
Reps 8-14 each side
Sit on the edge of a bench with your knees wide. Hold a dumbbell and hinge your chest forwards and rest the back of your upper arm against your inner thigh. Your shoulders should stay pulled down and back, and your core braced and torso still throughout. Keeping your upper arm in place, breathe out and bend your elbow to curl the weight to your shoulder, focusing on using your biceps to power the motion. Pause for a second and squeeze your biceps, then inhale and lower the dumbbell under control.
Remember that 21s means you perform seven reps of the first half of the movement, then seven reps of the second half, then a final seven reps of the full movement. Here’s how to do the full movement.
Lie on your back on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, holding the EZ-bar above you with extended arms, using a standard-width grip so that your hands are slightly angled inwards. Your upper arms should remain in place throughout the movement. Squeeze your glutes and brace your core to ensure you don’t arch your back. Breathe in as you bend your elbows to lower the EZ-bar to just above your forehead, pause, then breathe out as you lift the EZ-bar to the starting position.
6 EZ-bar curl
Stand holding the bar in front of your thighs with a standard-width grip, palms facing forwards. Keep your shoulders pulled down and back, with your elbows pinned to your torso. Breathe out and bend your elbows to raise the EZ-bar to your shoulders.
Remember to do seven reps of the lower half of the movement, seven of the top half and a final seven of the entire movement.
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Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.