Guys in particular are always keen to understand how they can stimulate growth of the arms – every guy wants big guns! Although there are exercises and day-to-day lifestyle changes you can adopt to attain this goal, it’s important to remember the importance of a balanced physique and not to get too obsessed with growing just one or two areas. Here are 5 things to consider when looking to increase arm size:
Vary rep volume and resistance
This is an important consideration to factor in when looking to trigger growth of any body part; variation is essential. Without varying your workouts, the body becomes accustomed to dealing with the stress you put it under and therefore has no reason to grow. In contrast you must keep looking to challenge the muscle with new weights, rep ranges and exercises. This variation can be achieved in just one session by starting with heavier sets:6 sets of 6 reps, and reducing the weight as the session progresses. Rep range example below: 6 x 6 reps; 6 x 10 reps; 6 x 12-15 reps. These rep ranges allow you to break down all the muscle fibres and obtain ‘the pump’, allowing blood to flood the muscle, stretch the fascia and provide the muscle with nutrients necessary to grow.
Don’t over train the muscle
A contentious debate is whether or not ‘overtraining’ is a real issue. From personal experience, I think overtraining is very real. A muscle is broken down and damaged when you train, therefore if you are continually training your arms day-in day-out, then you are in real danger of failing to allow sufficient recovery time for the muscle to grow, which may even lead to losing muscle mass. Find out more about the symptoms of overtraining here. Further to just muscle damage, training also taxes the body’s central nervous system (CNS(), which can lead to severe tiredness and weakness, far from a desire effect when looking to stimulate muscle growth.
Pull and press
If the goal is to get big arms the common assumption is to regularly perform bicep curls and skull crushers. Although these exercises have their place in helping grow the arms, a fundamental for growth is pulls and presses, for the biceps and triceps respectively. With this in mind, it becomes imperative to factor in training back, shoulders and chest on a regular basis: muscle groups that require pulls and presses to stimulate growth. Again, when training these muscle groups ensure you vary the rep volume – factoring in both heavy sets and lighter sets towards the end of the sessions.
Eat with intelligence and consistency
Muscle needs calories to grow. If you are in calorie deficit (eating less calories then you expend) you will not be able to develop your arms, regardless of the amount of bicep curls you are doing in the gym. Focus your calories around balanced macronutrients to facilitate your goal of growing: carbohydrates, 45%; protein, 35% and fat, 20%. You will also need to be practicing this dietary routine on a consistent basis, simply eating to these guidelines 1/2 days out of a 7 day week won’t facilitate your goals.
This may sound odd, but the effects you get from training legs has a positive impact on the whole body. This is because the demand placed on your body during a leg session creates hormonal adaptation, favorable to helping the body grow. This includes up-regulating the secretion of testosterone and growth hormone, key players when looking to develop muscle mass.