Figuring out the best arm workouts isn’t as easy as it may seem.

When most people think about training arms, they include a good deal of curls and some triceps work.

However, besides generic exercises, there are things that can be slightly tweaked in a workout, to maximize the growth potential of the arms.

On this page, we’ll give you workouts to OPTIMIZE the 3 main growth factors:

  1. Mechanical tension
  2. Metabolic stress
  3. Muscle damage

Arm anatomy

Before we dive right into the arm workouts, let’s have a brief look at the main muscles we’re going to target.

Arm workout anatomy

As you can see in the image above, the upper arm is made up of the biceps, triceps, brachialis and deltoid.

In this page we will specifically target the first 3 – Biceps, triceps & brachialis.

Biceps

The biceps is made out of two heads, hence, bi-ceps.

Those are the long head, located on the outer portion of the arm, and the short head, located on the inner portion.

The long head is what gives the upper arm that “Peaky” look, while the short head gives a thicker look to the arm.

Generally, the long head gets activated more, upon supination of the wrist (Clockwise rotation).

On the other hand (pun intended), the short head gets activated more upon pronation of the wrist (Counter-clockwise rotation).

As a whole, the biceps have a function of a “Flexor” and are made for pulling movements, such as curling, rowing, pull-ups, etc.

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Triceps

On the other side of the biceps, we have the tricep, which is a three-headed muscle, hence, tri-ceps.

Those are the lateral, medial and long head.

The tricep originates just below the shoulder blade and at two areas of the upper bone of the arm.

This muscle makes up a big portion of the upper arm, which is exactly why it should never be neglected in your arm workouts.

The triceps have a main function of an “Extensor” and are made primarily for pushing movements, such as bench press, dips, overhead presses, etc.

It needs to be noted here that the triceps may get activated by some pulling movements, due to the fact they are attached to the scapula (shoulder blade).

Brachialis

We all know about the biceps and the triceps, but little to no people pay attention to another muscle of the upper arm – The brachialis.

The brachialis is a muscle located in-between the biceps and the triceps.

It is sometimes split into two parts and it may also fuse with some biceps fibers.

This muscle also pushes the bicep peak up, which is why we want prominent development if the goal is well-rounded arms.

The main function of the brachialis is a flexion of the forearm at the elbow joint.

We can target the brachialis just like we target the short head of the biceps – By doing more pronated movements.

Antagonistic pairs

If you’ve read previous articles of ours, you would now know that the biceps and the triceps are an “Antagonistic pair”.

Antagonistic pairs are two muscle groups, attached in the same joint, that are opposite in placement and functions.

In this case, we have the biceps, which are a flexor group and the triceps, which are an extensor.

The good thing about this? Active rest.

In such antagonistic pairs, when the working muscle (Agonist) receives a contraction signal and shortens, its antagonist (opposite muscle) receives a relaxation signal and stretches.

This ultimately helps for quicker recovery in-between sets and gives a better stretch at the bottom for the agonist.

We can combine this principle of active rest with another training method – Supersets!

The end result will be MASSIVE pumps and in the long term, more prominent gains.

Let’s get right into the first workout on this page.

Superset arm workout

Here are the main reasons why supersets for arms are effective:

  1. They make use of the antagonistic pair & active rest, granting better activation and stretch of both muscle groups
  2. Supersets make you use up more energy. More energy = More metabolites = More metabolic stress = More gains
  3. This method gives an INSANE pump, due to the fact it gets a ton of blood into two different muscles that are just an inch apart.

If implemented in your arm workouts correctly, supersets can help you beef up your arms like no other training method.

Keep in mind though, don’t go too crazy on them, as you will still need to maintain good training intensity to cover the two other laws of growth – Mechanical tension & muscle damage.

Let’s get to it.

#1st Superset – Lying horizontal curls + Long head triceps extension

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

This first exercise is a very uncommon one, which you rarely see people do during their arm workouts.

Not only are we using the cable row machine to lie down on and create a horizontal curl, but we also apply an extended range of motion.

In traditional curling movements, you won’t see the elbow come up.

For this exercise however, we’ll do just that – Lift up the elbow and bring the bar right in front of the forehead.

Though that will give a bit more activation of the deltoids, it will also do so for the biceps.

Try it.

Execution:

  1. Set up a curl bar on the cable rows machine
  2. Sit down, place feet on the platform and grab the bar at shoulder width
  3. Lie down and keep your arms by your sides, closer to the body
  4. Curl all the way up to the forehead
  5. Squeeze hard once your hands are at forehead level
  6. Go down in a controlled manner on the eccentric portion of the movement

Once you’re done with this, you move on to the second exercise of the first superset, with NO rest!

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

With this exercise, not only are we hitting the long head of the triceps, but we also hit the medial head.

By keeping the knuckles together and keeping the wrist from collapsing at the bottom, you will get MASSIVE tricep activation.

Again, these little changes make all the difference in your arm workouts.

Let’s check it out.

Execution:

  1. Set up a rope on the upper pulley
  2. Grab the rope at the bottom and turn with your back against the cable machine
  3. Take a step forward and bend over slightly
  4. Keep the torso straight, rope over your head and arms parallel to the ground
  5. Push forward, keeping the upper arm in a static position
  6. Open the rope out at the bottom of the concentric portion and make sure to keep the wrists straight (No flexion/extension of the wrist)
  7. Hold the peak contraction briefly and return back up slowly

These two exercises are done for a total of 4 supersets – No rest in-between the separate exercises, 60-75 seconds of rest between the separate supersets.

#2nd Superset – Dumbbell incline curls + Dumbbell overhead tricep extension

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

This first exercise of our second arm superset is one of the exercises that are commonly done wrong.

As you can see on the video, the legendary trainer “Charles Glass” fixed Troy’s form with a couple of mild tweaks.

First, he made him open up the arms to get maximum biceps stretch.

Second, he made him supinate the wrists as much as possible to target that long head.

Note that you don’t need to necessarily go extra-heavy on this exercise, as it is designed for good stretch & contraction.

Talk about optimizing your arm workouts.

Execution:

  1. Set up an incline bench to a 55-degree angle (Slightly higher than the 45-degree angle for upper chest presses)
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit down comfortably
  3. Rest your back and head on the backrest and place feet in a comfortable position
  4. Open your arms out and keep them straight
  5. Supinate the wrist at the very bottom – This is your initial position
  6. Curl the dumbbells up, further supinating the wrist (As much as possible, without discomfort)
  7. Keep peak flexion up top for up to a second
  8. Go slowly on the way down to the initial position, getting a nice full stretch

Once done, proceed to the second exercise of the superset:

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

Again, this second exercise is often done in a wrong way, where you would basically push the dumbbell straight up.

Instead, we want you to try and imagine pushing it upwards but also slightly back.

This little tweak will make all the difference in the world, as the activation will be way more prominent.

Execution:

  1. Grab a dumbbell of a relatively heavy weight
  2. Sit down on the small bench
  3. Place feet comfortably
  4. Look forward and lift the dumbbell on your shoulder
  5. Grab it with both hands underneath and lift it above your head
  6. Keep elbows relatively close, without flaring too much
  7. Let the dumbbell go down and behind your head
  8. Once the forearm is parallel to the ground, push up and slightly back
  9. Contract the triceps up top and repeat the motion pattern

Again, no rest in-between the exercises, 60-75 seconds between the supersets.

Let’s move on to the 3rd and final superset of this workout.

#3rd Superset – Preacher curl machine + Tricep pressdown

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

Guess what – We have another little tweak for this next exercise, that will have your biceps BURNING!

Here’s what we mean:

  1. Place feet back and lean forward so that all the tension will go through the biceps
  2. Utilize the range of motion-lengthening by curling all the way up to the forehead

With traditional preacher curls, where the feet are right below the pad, we might press through the toes and get tension going on there.

Utilizing the first tweak, we exclude such tension. Furthermore, we add the lengthened range of motion by lifting the elbows slightly off of the pad and curling to the forehead to squeeze the hell out of the biceps.

Execution:

  1. Sit on the preacher curl machine and bring your legs back
  2. Place your arms tightly on the pad and grab the preacher bar at about shoulder width
  3. Lift the weight slightly off to tense the biceps
  4. Curl the bar up all the way to the forehead
  5. Squeeze the living hell out of the biceps up top
  6. Go back down slowly to stretch the biceps

Once you are done with this, move on to the second exercise of the superset:

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

With just a couple of adjustments to this common triceps exercise, we’ll get MASSIVE activation and more prominent pumps.

Let’s see what we can do about the tricep pressdown:

  1. Instead of pushing straight down, push down and slightly forward
  2. Don’t let your wrists collapse at the bottom – Keep them straight

After having smashed the long head of the triceps with the previous overhead movement, now it’s turn for the medial head.

Utilizing the two tips above, your medial head activation will be way better and in the long term, that will yield more gains, given that you stick to it.

Execution:

  1. Set up a bar on the upper cable pulley
  2. Stand a couple of feet in front of it and bend over slightly
  3. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width
  4. Lock out your grip so that the wrists won’t flex or extend
  5. Push down and slightly forward
  6. Apply a careful elbow lockout at the bottom and squeeze the triceps
  7. After holding the peak flexion for a second, go back up slowly, until the bar is at chin level

#4th Superset – Dead hang curls + Face down gains up

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

The dead hang curl is done on the opposite side of the preacher curl and again, we’re applying full ROM by lifting the elbow up slightly.

By bringing the bar closer to the forehead and squeezing it out as much as possible, we will grant that extra growth stimulus.

In our experience, this is one of the best exercises to add to your arm workouts.

Execution:

  1. Grab a barbell and lean on the front pad of the preacher curl
  2. Place your arms on the back pad of the preacher curl and let them hang down
  3. Curl the bar up all the way to your forehead
  4. Hold peak flexion for a split second
  5. Go down in a controlled manner on the eccentric until you reach the initial deadhang position

If you’re not shy, move on to the next exercise with no rest whatsoever

Sets: 4

Reps: 10-12

Rest time: ~75 seconds between supersets

Alright, this might be a weird exercise but trust us- If you do it correctly, your arms will be on fire.

Generally, targeting the triceps with just bodyweight is kind of limited – Close grip dips, diamond push-ups and that’s about it.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect bodyweight finishing exercise for the triceps, do include this in your arm workouts.

Execution:

  1. Set up a ~15 inch box in front of a bar/squat rack
  2. Set up a bar at mid-shin level
  3. Bend over and grab the bar at about shoulder width
  4. Go down slowly until your head is a couple inches off of the bar
  5. Push up to the initial position, contracting the triceps

If you liked this workout, make sure to check out the rest of our workouts over at the Workouts section!