Your 6 Secrets to Big Arms
Think building big arms is all about choosing the right exercises? Think again. Here are 6 keys to adding an extra inch to your bi’s.
Alternating Hammer Curl
THE LOWDOWN: With the neutral (palms facing in) grip, the smaller brachialis is also called into play along with the biceps long head, and targeting it can help maximize thickness in the upper arms. This move also works the brachioradialis, the major muscle of the forearm.
GET SET: Stand erect with your knees unlocked and feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand near the forward plate with your palms facing in (neutral grip).
DO IT RIGHT: Maintaining the neutral grip, slowly curl one arm in an arc up toward the opposite-side shoulder, keeping your elbow back and locked by your side. Don’t turn your wrist up as you would a curl; keep it neutral throughout. Hold the peak contraction for a count, and then slowly lower to the start position, repeating the movement with the opposite arm.
TRY THIS: You’ll find it quite challenging, but do this move on a preacher bench, which will make it hard to cheat.
AMP IT UP: With dumbbells you can go from a dual movement to one arm at a time. This way you can introduce a brief rest at the bottom position while the opposite side is working and lean slightly into the movement to generate some momentum. Try doing a few extra reps this way at the end of your set.
POWER POINTER: Hammers are best done at the end of your workout. Once your forearm muscles are fatigued, you’ll have trouble holding onto a bar.
THE LOWDOWN: Considered an excellent mass builder because you can add so much weight to the bar. If the barbell version is uncomfortable on the wrists, opt for the EZ-bar.
GET SET: Stand erect with your chest out and shoulders back and grasp the bar with an underhand grip about shoulder-width apart, allowing it to hang freely in front of your thighs.
DO IT RIGHT: Contract your biceps to curl the bar up to about shoulder height, squeezing your biceps hard at the top and keeping your elbows locked by your sides throughout. Lower under control to just short of full-arm extension.
TRY THIS: It looks a lot like regular curls, but the drag curl instead has you pulling your elbows back behind the plane of your body as you bring the bar up, actually dragging it up your torso. You might find this variation even more effective on the Smith machine.
AMP IT UP: Forget about the one-hand-grip-for-all-sets mentality and start doing close-grip (just inside hip width) and wide-grip (hands spaced just outside shoulder width) curls. The close-grip version better emphasizes the long head (which forms the peak); the wide grip better targets the short (inner) head.
POWER POINTER: Fight the tendency to want to raise the bar higher by allowing your elbows to drift forward, which engages the front delts.