Build the Arms of a Pro
There aren’t any shortcuts to building bigger, better arms, but hard work and the right exercises play a key role.
By Joel Stubbs, IFBB Pro; Photography by Robert Reiff; Model: IFBB Pro Joel Stubbs
[Q] Joel, what is the best exercise for building biceps size?
[A] Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question since biceps, like any other muscle, are grown as a result of consistency, changes in stimuli and proper rest and nutrition. But if you wanted to pick one biceps exercise no bodybuilder can do without, I’d say it’s the standing barbell curl. It’s all about increasing weight with proper form and technique, and the barbell curl is the best way to do that. It allows you to move more weight, so do your best to master this move with strict form. Of course, if you have wrist issues, the EZ-bar curl is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
[Q] So for bigger triceps, what’s best? Dips, skullcrushers or close-grip bench presses?
[A] For me, the best triceps mass exercise is the close-grip bench press. These allow you to really overload the triceps with weight because it’s a multijoint exercise, thus building bigger a foundation for that muscle. But the take-home message here is that compound moves are the best. So don’t ignore weighted dips or weighted bench dips, either!
[Q] Is there an ideal rep range for training arms? I can’t seem to get a good pump if I go heavy, but I know if I go too light, I won’t grow. Help!
[A] Well there isn’t any ideal rep range for building arms. I keep my reps at 10¬–15 per set. One of the things I do to keep the pressure up is to do buddy curls with my partner. For these, right after my set, I put the weight right in his hands so he has to do his set right away. We do this back and forth with no rest for 8–10 sets. The weight is usually a moderate one ⎯not too heavy and not too light. The key with this technique is the intensity it creates. Try these with certain exercises and you’ll get a crazy, growth-inducing pump for sure!
[Q] What intensity techniques do you use for arms when you’re trying to add detail to them?
[A] Well, in my opinion, intensity with arms begins with proper range of motion, technique and form and a strong squeeze on every rep. That’s what will help create detail in your muscles. Apart from that, detail will come with proper eating habits and supplementation. But don’t forget consistency!
JOEL’S HIGH-INTENSITY ARM ROUTINES
Barbell Curl – 8 Sets x 12 Reps (140, 130, 120, 110, 100, 90, 80, 70 lbs.)
Dumbbell Curl – 4 Sets x 12 Reps (45, 45, 45, 45 lbs.)
Machine Preacher Curl – 5 Sets x 12 Reps (45, 70, 90, 115, 135 lbs.)
Concentration Curl – 3 Sets x 12 Reps (40, 40, 40 lbs.)
Pressdown – 5 Sets x 15 Reps (170, 170, 170, 170, 170 lbs.)
Reverse-Grip Pressdown – 5 Sets x 15 Reps (150, 150, 150, 150, 150 lbs.)
Close-Grip Bench Press – 4 Sets x 12 Reps (225-275 lbs.)
Skullcrusher – 4 Sets x 15 Reps (165, 165, 165, 165 lbs.)
One-Arm Overhead Extension – 3 Sets x 15 Reps (45, 50, 55 lbs.)
Weighted Bench Dip – 4 Sets x 15 Reps (45, 90, 135, 180 lbs.)