If you’ve had difficulty growing bigger arms, odds are you’re making some very common mistakes that nearly every trainee makes.
In this article, we will discuss the TOP 5 arm training mistakes, which might be the missing link for you.
Rest assured, once you fix these training mistakes, you will feel PROPER activation of the arms, which you’ve never felt before.
And as you may or may not know, in our book, new and better activation equals new and better gains.
If you look at our YouTube channel and especially the comments section, you’ll see A TON of accusations.
Yes, people blame us on steroids!
These are the exact same people that stall in progress because they’re making training mistakes and feel like getting big naturally is impossible, because they can’t do it.
So, yes – Progressing naturally is possible, and after you read this article you will know exactly how to get bigger arms faster so let’s begin with the first mistake!
Mistake #1 – No pinky BRO!
Granted, once you’re in the gym for arm day, you’re probably doing a TON of dumbbell movements – Regular curls, alternating curls, hammer curls and maybe even some supinated curls.
But we’re pretty sure that most people don’t utilize this one trick that maximizes long head (peak) activation – Twisting your pinky above your hand at the top of each repetition.
What you have to do is not just supinate your wrist, but twist that pinky to further create a more prominent supination.
Trust us – If you try this and consistently apply it in your bicep workouts, your peak will EXPLODE.
We do recommend starting this off with a very light weight and applying it on the exercise “Concentration curls”.
Just really, try and focus on that prominent pinky supination at the top of the movement and activate the long head as much as possible.
Now, we know that you also need an actionable plan, so here’s what we recommend.
Out of all the bicep work for the week, do at least 5 sets, using this exact technique.
Let’s get to the second mistake.
Mistake #2 – Missing full ROM at the top
This one is a bit counterintuitive.
We usually don’t recommend having your elbows move forward during a curl, but as a matter of fact, this can be utilized to get a better and more prominent activation.
The way we usually approach a curl is the following:
- Upper arms tucked to the body/pad in a static position
- Curl up by just flexing the elbow, without having it move forward
- Stop at about lower chest line
- Go down but not all the way
Now, while the above is not really wrong, try this following execution with full range of motion:
- Grab an EZ bar and set yourself up on the back of a preacher curl machine with arms dead hanging
- Curl the barbell up
- Once you’re at lower chest level where you’d usually stop, bring elbows forward and curl further up until you reach your forehead level
- Get back down slowly again to a dead hang and flex the triceps at the bottom
What this will do, is it will give you a TON of new activation, especially to the short head of the biceps, which grants that thickness of the upper arm. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737788/
The protocol? Again, at least 5 sets of dead hang preacher curls, or any curl where you can mimic that same range of motion with elbows going forward.
Not only will this further activate the biceps, but it will also give the forearms more work.
And as we know, forearms are an inevitable part of your overall arm development.
Mistake #3 – No brachialis time under tension
As we’ve talked about before, the brachialis is located in between the biceps and triceps, on the outer arm.
This is the exact muscle that kind of pushes the bicep peak up and gives a more prominently peaky look of the upper arm.
Now, most of you, including some of us, have long been focusing just on the biceps.
You see, preacher curls, supinated curls, everything possible to target the long head, which at one point just stalls.
But you rarely see people working on that brachialis though.
What I want you to do again is AT LEAST 5 working sets per WEEK of PRONATED curls, for 30 seconds time under tension.
If you don’t know, pronation means that your palms will be facing down.
On the other hand (pun intended) supination means that your palms are facing up.
And so, a more pronated curl will target the brachialis, forearms and secondarily the biceps, while a supinated curl will mainly target the biceps.
Mistake #4 – Bad wrist positioning during triceps training
Now, as we’ve mentioned in the past, it’s the small adjustments to your exercises that make ALL the difference in the world.
As you should know, arm development is not just about having big biceps.
Big biceps with a flat tricep just look straight up stupid.
As a matter of fact, the triceps make up the bulkier part of your upper arms.
And that is especially valid for the long and medial heads.
For Mistake & Tip #4, we have something that will help you grant more prominent tricep activation – Wrist positioning.
When you see someone doing a rope triceps pushdown for example, they often just bend their wrists at the bottom.
What this does is it takes a TON of tension off of the triceps and stretches the muscles on the bottom of the forearm.
So, here’s for the actionable tip : On tricep pressdown movements, make sure to keep your wrists & hands STRAIGHT at the bottom.
Trust us- This will make massive difference in triceps activation.
Mistake #5 – Long head stretch & activation
As we just mentioned above, the long head is in fact, the biggest muscle of the upper arm.
If you don’t have it properly developed, your arms will simply look SMALL.
Especially on overhead movements.
The biggest mistake with long head training is that it simply lacks stretch & activation for the most part.
If you want to prominently develop ANY muscle, you have to take it through its entire range of motion.
That implies using zero to none inertial movements, to grant maximum mechanical tension.
In other words, keeping constant tension on that muscle is of prime importance.
What we want you to do for the long head is include at least 3-5 overhead tricep extensions with full stretch & full activation.
Something important to mention here is that the OPTIMAL full stretch forms at about 90-degrees.
And so, if you’re doing an overhead tricep dumbbell extension, the lower portion would be when your forearm is parallel to the ground.
Then again we also make sure to keep the upper arm at a 90-degree angle.
On the way up, you’d be pushing explosively and applying a CAREFUL elbow lockout at the top
This will grant the full triceps activation.
Bonus tip #6 – Using too many synergists & inertia
“Wait, I thought that was ‘Top 5 arm training mistakes’ …?”
Well, it’s a never-ending fountain of viable, actionable information, so here’s for a bonus tip #6.
That is namely using too many of the surrounding muscle groups, which can work in synergy with what we’re targeting.
Now, doing so does have its place in our workouts, but that’s only when we want to really be able to lift heavy weights & relatively high volume, which are meant for bulk muscle gains. 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30153194
We must not use the surrounding synergists, if we want to focus and isolate the upper arm musculature.
Here are our last tips for this article:
- Don’t use inertial movements (Cheating) in the beginning of curling movements. Instead, focus on proper activation and only cheat if you want to go beyond failure.
- Keep your elbows behind your back on curling movements to maximize long head activation
- Only bring elbows forward when applying tip #2 from our list
So, how to get bigger arms…? Optimize and diversify your arm workouts.
If you liked this article and are looking for more exercises, check out our exercise section where we have a wide variety of exercises for each muscle group!