“My goal is by next year I want my arms to look half as good as yours. And in two years, I want them to look AS GOOD as yours!”
When one of my clients confided this to me I was extremely flattered – having someone tell you that your physique is a goal they want for themselves is a huge compliment! And fortunately she’s working with the right person, because I know exactly what I’ve done to get my arms (and other parts of my body) to look the way they do, and I am more than happy to help her get there!
First let’s talk about what it takes to build muscle on your arms.
Strength training (lifting heavy and frequently)
Diet diligence (eating enough to build the muscle, then lowering calories to lose the body fat on top)
Patience and hard work (enough said!)
I’ve been lifting weights a long time and I am still working to build more muscle every day. But you can have strong, defined arms without having to look like a bodybuilder or eat crazy amounts of protein.
All you have to do is train your upper body consistently and with enough weight to challenge it. You must be sure to hit all muscle groups effectively.
One way I like to do this is by training in a “body-part split” which basically means targeting certain muscle groups one day a week. This type of training is great if you can workout 5-6 days a week and you are looking to really hone in on any or even all muscle groups of the body.
There are any number of ways you can schedule your week, but to be sure you’re hitting each muscle group well and allowing it time to recover, I like to pair complimentary OR opposing muscle groups together, such as biceps and triceps one day and back and chest another, or biceps and back together one day and chest and triceps together another.
To show you how you can do this yourself, I’ve laid out an example of what a week of a body-part training split might look like, and shared my best upper body workouts to go along with it!
Body-Part Split Week:
Monday: Biceps & Back
Wednesday: Chest & Triceps
Friday: Shoulders & Abs
In this example, I train my “pulling” muscles of the back and biceps one day, leave a cardio day in between for recovery, then hit my “pushing” muscles of the chest and triceps. With a full day off to rest those muscle I train shoulders on their own (my favorite group to train!) and add some abs with that. Then I leave Saturday for legs since that’s going to be a pretty intense workout, and Sunday to rest up and recover for the week. So you can see each muscle group is getting plenty of attention, and also plenty of recovery time.
You can mix this around to fit your needs, but I recommend trying to keep the rest days in between to get maximum benefits out of your lifts.
Now if you are like my client and you want some amazing arms, here’s a workout you can take to the gym! Click the exercise for a link to the video showing how it should be done. (All reps are per side.)
Lat pulldown 4 x 8
Incline Bicep Curl 4 x 10
Close-grip pulldown 3 x 10
Reverse bicep curl 3 x 12
One-arm bent-over row 3 x 10
One-arm cable curl 3 x 10
Bench press 4 x 8
Tricep push-ups 4 x 10
Standing cable chest fly 3 x 10
Tricep dips 3 x 10
Ball pullover 3 x 12
One-arm triceps pushdown 3 x 12
Arnold press 4 x 8
Bar front raise 4 x 10
Bradford press 3 x 10 (front to back to front is 1)
One-arm rear fly 3 x 12
Triple set #3
Upright row 3 x 10
Scarecrow fly 3 x 12
Leaning side raise 3 x 10
You can do this workout for up to 12 weeks for maximum effectiveness. Be sure to use weight that is challenging enough that you can barely maintain good form on the last couple reps of EACH SET. Once a weight is no longer challenging, move up to the next weight.
Go get it girl, and don’t forget to flex.