Clicky

Fitness

Award Winning Guns: How To Create The Arms You’ve Always Wanted

Award Winning Guns: How To Create The Arms You’ve Always Wanted
Written by Michael Garrico

This article is going to be absolutely vital for anyone who’s been struggling to create massive guns.

We’ve all seen them; the enormous bicep peaks that form the perfect “cherry” on the top of the amazing arm development possessed by some of the world’s best physique models.

It’s either that, or the incredible “horse shoe” shape that perfectly sticks out from the back of an amazingly well developed tricep muscle - either way, we all want these aspects as part of our aesthetic repertoire, and you’ll be happy to know that we can get them with a little effort and strategy.

Arm training isn’t necessarily complicated, but it’s definitely a game of patience and tact that has beaten many a trainee into the ground in their attempt to create the perfect arms. This is never due to lack of effort, but often due to where precisely that effort is placed.

It’s frustrating when you see others with incredible arm mass sauntering their way through the gym without a care in the world, but typically, these people have been on an immense journey of self discovery to get there, and it’s a journey you’ll have to undertake if you want to achieve the same results.

As we progress, you’re going to understand what may have been holding you back, and from there, we’ll discuss how best to progress and get the unbelievable peaks you seek.

Are you ready to unlearn what you know and open your mind in order to achieve stratospheric propulsion towards award winning guns?

Simply read on.

Section One: Why So Many People Struggle To Create Massive Arms

You already know by our statement about effort that willpower probably has nothing to do with the fact that your arms haven’t reached the level you’d like them to have by now - as such, it’s important that we isolate the true reasons behind the problem at hand.

Man looking at his biceps

“There ain’t no secrets.” - Ronnie Coleman

Before we progress further, you’re also going to need to throw away the word “genetics” too. This might not be what you want to hear, but “genetics” is often a code word for patience. When people say they don’t have the genetics, they typically mean they don’t have the patience.

Try not to get too mad, because you’ve no doubt already exercised a fair amount of patience so far to get to where you are - so much in fact that you’re potentially at boiling point. Don’t worry though; the answers are at hand.

We’re first going to look into your training age and the manner in which you typically train in order to get to the bottom of your arm building mystery.

Running Before You Can Walk: How Long Have You Been Using Compound Movements?

Because a lot of people really want an incredible set of arms, one of the first things they’ll typically do is immediately start integrating isolated arm training into their training week and expect to see incredible results.

The truth is, there’s a time and place for isolated arm training on a separate day of the week, and it isn’t at the beginning of your training journey.

This might be an incredibly hard lesson to take on board initially, because it could be that huge “guns” are what you want above all else - but you need to hold your horses and take things down a notch.

What you should be doing during the first year or so of training is performing well balanced routines that integrate the large compound (multi muscle) movements that are responsible for recruiting as many fibre’s as possible, thus leading to overall body growth.

You’ll find that your biceps and triceps (the arm muscles) as well as your forearms play a huge part in these movements as stabilization muscles. As you develop the foundations of the rest of your body, so too will your arm foundations develop provided you incorporate a wide spectrum of these movements.

You should at the very minimum use the following exercises to a high intensity as part of your training repertoire:

  • Deadlifts
  • Barbell rows
  • ​Squats
  • Bench press
  • Military press
Man showing how to perform military press

Military press.

These five exercises alone are responsible for targeting every muscle in the body and will actually lead to an immensely powerful overall muscular foundation for you to further develop upon should you use them regularly.

Once you’ve used them with intensity for between one to two years, rest assured that provided your nutrition is in check, your arms will have developed to a point where they can be finely “honed” and developed further.

Don’t waste a standalone training day on their development before this point - you’re simply not ready and it’ll be largely wasted energy that could be used for growth and recovery.

If you’ve utilised these exercises for the stated period already, then it’s safe to say that your foundations are strong enough to warrant isolated arm training being that they won’t develop further without direct targeting.

But you’d never tell anyone to avoid training any other muscle group for the first two years surely?

This is actually true. The reason why is because, well - your arms aren’t actually that big of a deal on the whole. They’re similar to your calves in that they serve as a very minimal assistive element to the core muscle groups involved in the five movements above.

Whilst aesthetics are your primary goal therefore you want impeccable muscular balance - that balance is truly going to come from developing the shoulders, back, chest and lower body groups first and foremost.

They all form the “core” of the body, and these assistive elements should only come into play when your foundations are of a prominent enough level to warrant the effort you’ll put into them.

As previously stated, this is going to be incredibly frustrating for some, but until you hit this year to two year region, you shouldn’t really train more than a maximum of three times per week with a focus being on the core foundation groups mentioned above.

One this period has elapsed, you can start to follow a more advanced split of between four or even six days per week - your body will be at a point where you’ll actually see the benefit.

Skinny guy holding imaginary weights

Why aren't my arms bigger?

I’ve been training for over two years, I’m not a beginner: why aren’t my arms bigger?

Let’s completely omit nutrition from the equation and assume that you’re eating a perfectly balanced and wholesome plan as per your current training goal - we need to look at several other reasons why you haven’t developed the arms you so desire.

First things first - we discussed a separate arm day above. Do you have this in place as part of your training routine?

Training Arms In Isolation

When it comes to biceps and triceps, there’s often an unfortunate tendency to “bolt” them onto the end of another muscle group. If you’ve been training for quite some time, then you need to consider the effort you put into forming your other muscle groups at this point.

Man doing biceps workout

One of the most common training splits is to place biceps at the end of a back session.

Hopefully when it came to leg day, you didn’t say “I’m short of time today, I think i’ll simply do a little leg stuff at the end of my chest session”...or perhaps you did?

If so, this is a huge no-no and a thought process that you need to abolish with immediate effect if you’re serious about getting massive arms.

One of the most common training splits is to place biceps at the end of a back session, or to place triceps at the end of a chest or shoulder session. Whilst it’s common, it’s not one of the best by a long shot.

Realistically speaking, you really shouldn’t have enough time or energy left after a chest, shoulder, back or leg session to bolt anything on as an afterthought.

If you’re not performing a minimum of six exercises covering various different areas of the area comprising of both compound and isolation (singular muscle) movements, then frankly you’re not hitting it hard enough.

You need to apply this set of guidelines to your arms too - an entire session covering a minimum of three exercises for the biceps and three for the triceps is going to be necessary in order to establish the appearance you’re looking for.

As stated previously, every time you train chest or back your bi’s and tri’s are involved, therefore should you integrate this standalone session, this means you’ll have trained them twice in the respective training week.

That’s truly more than enough for any body part, and in some cases (legs / back) far too much. For muscle groups of this size though, that’s actually perfect.

You’re going to have to start taking arms as seriously as you take say your chest or shoulders if you want to improve their size and appearance - they should never be an afterthought and they certainly warrant their own training day. It’s essential.

Arm Breakdown: What Are They Made Of?

You’ll need to integrate the following areas every arm session you perform if you truly want to develop the best arms possible.

Scheme of arm muscles on a white background

As Arnold Schwarzenegger stated himself, you’ve got to train the arms from every angle for total development.

Biceps

This group needs no introduction - everyone wants bigger biceps but in order to get your wish granted, you’ll have to start training with a great sense of mind body awareness from now on in order to target them fully.

We’ll discuss this mind body connection a little further as we proceed, but for now it’s important that you know the development of your biceps is going to have everything to do with strict form and a well developed approach to your arm sessions as opposed to flinging up heavy weights and trying to break personal bests.

Triceps

This group represents 70% of your arm mass and people often overlook this area in the pursuit of big arms on the whole - they associate the biceps with being the main area of the arm and as such put all of their effort into them whilst ignoring the vital triceps area.

As with bicep training, targeting your triceps is all about proper body positioning as opposed to lifting heavy weights, and you’re potentially going to need to completely alter the way you perceive training on the whole from now on in order to effectively target this area.

Brachialis

This area almost serves, as a “bridge” in between the biceps and triceps muscles - sitting directly in the middle of the arm “sandwiched between the two areas” this muscle is vital for the overall development of the arms and enhancing thickness.

Brachialis biceps scheme

This is an easy group to overlook, and many people wouldn’t typically think about integrating it as part of their session - this is potentially one of the reasons why your arm development isn’t what it could be.

Forearms

That’s right - your forearms are an integral part of your arm development and if you neglect them your arm mass on the whole is simply going to be incredibly underwhelming.

It has to be said that forearm training is seriously overlooked, and it shows - you’ll see so many people with enormous arms, and as you look further on towards the hand, they simply have what appears to be a pencil shaped object in between the wrist and the elbow.

This pencil shaped object should be a well-formed forearm, but often it’s drastically underdeveloped.

This area is similar to the calves in that those experienced gym veterans who are “in the know” will immediately look at your forearms to see if you’ve balanced your arm training out properly. Don’t get caught out.

Positional Awareness

You might already know everything you’ve read so far, but the most important aspect of successful arm training (and one that we’re all guilty of) is the position of the body during training.

Jason Statham doing a human flag.

"A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t." - Jack Dempsey

Top fitness professionals all over the world know that form is the key to progress. You can’t avoid this area and if you do, you’re just going to scupper your training results.

You may have read other material so far indicating this so it may not come as an enormous surprise, but whether or not you successfully target your arms is largely going to depend on the position of your shoulder blades and whether or not they are tightly pinched together when targeting the arms.

What this will essentially do is completely remove any shoulder involvement from the respective exercise and ensure that either your biceps or your triceps are being effectively targeted.

This is an all too common mistake made when performing bicep exercises, but it is potentially the primary reason why so many people suffer with their triceps development - allowing the shoulders to roll forwards really does almost completely negate the effectiveness of any triceps exercise.

Provided your shoulder blades are always tightly pinched together and the back is straight, you can almost always guarantee that the relevant muscle fibre’s in each area are being properly targeted.

There is however one other aspect to consider…

Less Is More

Man with huge muscles entering the car

Your arms are too small. Or at least you probably feel that way.

This goes for both movement, and the amount of weight being lifted over the course of an arm exercise performance. Less weight is ultimately going to lead to enhanced (effective) functionality of the exercise, but you have a role to play in regards to said movement and how it is performed too.

As we’ve discussed, the shoulder blades play a vital part in ensuring that you truly access the target sites when performing arm exercises, but your elbows also play a vital role in the proceedings as well.

All arm movements rely on the elbow joint to function as a “hinge”, thus allowing the arm from the elbow down to extend or contract. One of the most common mistakes made when performing biceps or triceps exercises is to allow the upper portion of the arm (where the muscle sits) to move in conjunction with the lower section.

This might go against the grain of what your brain perceives to be normal, but the part where the muscles are isn’t actually the part that makes the exercises work!

It’s actually the lever (forearm) underneath this area that serves to “pump” blood through the muscles and tear down the fibre’s for growth and repair.

This “level” isn’t going to do its job properly if you don’t learn to keep the elbows and upper arms static (in conjunction with pinching the shoulder blades together) and purely move the lower section of the arm. This is the only part of the arm that should be moving during an arm exercise.

You’ve no doubt seen some terrible form being practiced (perhaps even by yourself) before in regards to people violently swinging their bodies, allowing their shoulders to roll forwards and generally doing all of the things this article has stated not to do in order to effectively target the arms.

No matter what other elements are in place, not fully understanding and implementing the above points in regards to your body position is going to completely nullify your arm building efforts in no time.

Should you fall into the category of being an experienced trainer, perhaps you’re now sat thinking “I’m guilty of not always using these teaching points as part of my training.

Don’t worry; it just takes a little effort and practice. Ensuring you follow the positional awareness guidelines for arm (and every other muscle group) training will see your results skyrocket in no time at all providing everything else is in check.

Now that we’ve established what you need to do to counteract many of the common pitfalls faced by others in their pursuit of amazing arms, let’s take a look at some of the best exercises on the planet for creating the arm development you’ve been looking for.

Section Two: Some Of The Best Arm Exercises On The Planet For Total Arm Development

With the areas mentioned above at the forefront of your mind, it’s now time to individually target them and create the most prominent set of arms possible.

CT Fletcher would train nothing but biceps for years on end. You don't have to do that...

Barbell curl and triceps dips? Let's give it a try!

Some of the world’s leading fitness models like Andreia Brazier include exercises like the barbell curl and triceps dips (as you’ll shortly read about) as part of their workouts - if these tried and tested movements are good enough for her, they’re good enough for you too.

This is going to be a methodical and strategic procedure, and provided you incorporate all of the above areas as part of your arm sessions you can rest assured that you’ll bring a set of well-rounded arms to fruition.

Brachialis Exercises

These exercises target the brachialis muscle and help to create arm “thickness”. The more this muscle develops, the greater the space will be in between the bicep and triceps muscles thus creating a larger arm overall.

Cross Body Hammer Curls

Areas Covered: Brachialis, Biceps

To perform this exercise, start with a dumbbell in each hand held at hip height and the feet shoulder width apart.

Proceed to bend your left elbow, and bring the dumbbell across to touch the right pec muscle whilst ensuring that it is kept in an upright position throughout the movement.

Bring the dumbbell back down to the starting position and repeat on the opposite arm.

Normal Hammer Curls

Areas Covered: Brachialis, Biceps

To perform this exercise, simply stand with a dumbbell in each hand at hip height and the feet shoulder width apart.

From here, bend at the elbows until they reach 90 degrees and the top of the dumbbells face the ceiling, then return to the starting position.

Reverse EZ Bar Curls

Man doing workout with ez bar curl

If you want to build those biceps fast, then try the EZ Bar Curl!

Areas Covered: Brachialis Forearms

Grab an ez curl bar and proceed to grip the middle, narrow handles with a double overhand grip at hip height. From here, bend at the elbows and raise the bar upwards until they reach a 90-degree angle - return to the starting position and repeat.

Biceps Exercises

In terms of integrating the biceps to their maximum extent, the following exercises will fully “immerse” the biceps from beginning to end and help to develop explosive cannon ball like peaks.

Barbell Curls

Areas Covered: Biceps

To perform this exercise, grab a bar with a double underhand grip just outside of shoulder width apart at hip height. Proceed to bend the elbows and raise the bar upwards until the elbow joints reach 90 degrees, before extending the arms and returning the bar to the starting position.

Incline Dumbbell Curls

Areas Covered: Biceps

To perform this exercise, set up a bench so that it has a slight incline (the bench should be set at just short of a 45 degree angle) and proceed to grab a pair of dumbbells then sit down with the back firmly against the bench padding.

Man showing how to perform incline dumbbell curls

Dumbbells are always by your side.

From here, with the dumbbells by the side - proceed to bend at the elbow of the left arm and bring the dumbbell up until it sits just in front of the left deltoid. Twist the dumbbell throughout the movement so that it faces inwards towards the body.

Extend the arm and rotate the dumbbell back down into the starting position before repeating on the opposite side

Preacher Curls

Areas covered - Biceps

To perform this exercise, sit on a preacher bench and grip an ez bar with a double underhand grip in the narrow position.

Proceed to rest the top of the elbows on the top of the pad, and extend the arms until the bar hovers just above the bottom of the arm pad.

Proceed to bend the arms to a 90 degree angle and curl the bar upwards towards the body before extending at the elbows and repeating the movement.

Man showing how to perform preacher curl

Triceps Exercises

These exercises are going to target your triceps effectively and ensure that you fully evolve 70% of your arm mass - remember this is the biggest section of the arm so neglecting it isn’t an option (as with all other areas of the arm.)

Skull Crushers

Areas Covered: Triceps

To perform a skull crusher, either grab a straight barbell or an ez bar and lie flat on the back with the bar elevated above the body in line with the head - ensure you have a double overhand grip on the bar.

From here, with the arms fully extended you now need to bend the elbows to 90 degrees and lower the bar until it hovers just above the head.

Extend the arms back to the starting position (whilst still leaving a slight bend at the elbow) before repeating the movement.

Cable Rope Extensions

Areas Covered: Triceps

To perform this exercise, set a cable pulley at the top of one of the pillars, and attach a pulley rope. From here, grab each end of the rope with the wrists in a neutral position (with the palms facing inwards towards each other) and proceed to bend the elbows to 90 degrees in line with the sternum.

Woman showing how to perform cable rope extensions

Stop doubting yourself, work hard and make it happen.

Extend the arms whilst keeping the shoulder blades pinched together until the rope handles come down and go just past the hips (by the side of the body.) Proceed to bend the elbows to 90 degrees and return to the starting position before repeating the movement.

Triceps Dips

Areas Covered - Triceps

In order to perform a triceps dip, find a set of parallel dipping bars and proceed to grab both sides in the narrow position (the position that places the hands closest to the hips.)

From here, proceed to suspend the body weight above the bars with the arms, pinch your shoulder blades together whilst bending your knees backwards to a 90-degree angle, and then slowly lower the body.

When your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, return the body to the starting position by extending the arms.

Forearm Exercises

As stated earlier, developing your forearms is going to be crucial if you want to form a fully rounded set of arms that have the relevant thickness and “density” in all the right areas - you can’t skip this muscle group.

Reverse Wrist Curls

Areas Covered: Forearms, Biceps

Man showing how to perform reverse wrist curl

To perform this exercise, simply grab a barbell with a double overhand grip just outside hip height and hold the bar in front of the body.

From here, curl the wrists upwards so that the back of the hand is parallel to the ceiling, then return the bar to the starting position.

Straight Bar Reverse Curls

Areas Covered: Forearms, Brachialis

To perform this exercise, grab a barbell with a double overhand grip and hold it at hip height. Proceed to bend the elbows to a 90 degree angle until the back of the arms and hands are parallel to the ceiling - from here extend the arms and return to the starting position.

Fat Gripz Integration On Any Pulling Exercise

Areas Covered: Forearms

If you haven’t heard of fat gripz before, now is definitely the time to look into them. They simply make the bar you’re holding to perform an exercise much thicker, thus developing your grip and thus in turn your forearm diameter and general thickness.

Man in gym doing workout

But first of all - listen to your body.

Try using them for deadlifts or chin ups periodically and you’ll see some serious results manifest.

You know the areas, you know the exercises - now it’s time to piece it all together with some highly effective arm training routines to solidify the development you’ve been looking for.

Section Three: Arm Workouts For Any Goal

The following section contains a list of arm routines to follow in order to achieve any arm based goal - whilst the rep and set counts listed should be followed at least the first time you perform these routines.

You are encouraged to alternate and switch these variables at least every two weeks to create the results you’re looking for.

Scheme of a man doing barbell skull crushers

Follow your routine and never give up.

General Mass Building Arm Routine

This workout is designed to target your arms from every angle possible in order to develop a great foundation to further enhance with isolation exercises and higher rep ranges.

All exercises to be performed for between 6-8 reps unless stated otherwise for a total of three sets each with a 120 second rest period in between sets.

Focus on performing a 3 second negative (on the way down), 1 second hold (at the bottom) and 3 second positive (on the way up) count for each movement.

The exercises are as follows:

  • Barbell curls
  • Preacher curls
  • ​Skull crushers
  • Triceps dips
  • ​Cross body hammer curls
  • Reverse ez bar curls

Ensure you fully stretch the arms at the end of your session to avoid blood pooling.

Arm Isolation And Toning Routine

Man doing arm workout

Fully stretch the arms at the end of your session to avoid blood pooling.

This workout is designed purely to develop the overall tone in your arms in order to improve their aesthetic appearance.

All exercises to be performed for between 10-12 reps unless stated otherwise for a total of four sets each with a 60 second rest period in between sets.

Focus on performing a 3 second negative (on the way down), 1 second hold (at the bottom) and 3 second positive (on the way up) count for each movement.

The exercises are as follows:

  • Incline dumbbell curls
  • Preacher curls
  • ​Hammer curls
  • Skull crushers
  • Cable rope extensions
  • Reverse wrist curls

Ensure you fully stretch the arms at the end of your session to avoid blood pooling.

A Combined Isolation And Compound Workout For Total Arm Development

This routine is for those who struggle with their body positioning on some of the free weight movements and need the assistance of machines in order to avoid back pain and injury (especially in the lower back.)

All exercises to be performed for between 8-10 reps unless stated otherwise for a total of four sets each with a 90 second rest period in between sets.

Focus on performing a 3 second negative (on the way down), 1 second hold (at the bottom) and 3 second positive (on the way up) count for each movement.

The exercises are as follows:

  • Incline curls (perform this exercise for between 15-20 reps per arm total)
  • Preacher curls
  • ​Triceps dips
  • ​Cable rope push downs (perform this exercise for between 15-20 reps per arm total)
  • ​Cross body hammer curls
  • Hammer curls (perform this exercise for between 15-20 reps per arm total)
  • Reverse curls

Ensure you fully stretch the arms at the end of your session to avoid blood pooling.

High Volume Arm Conditioning, Endurance And Tone Workout

This session is designed to “shock” the arms via high volume training and spike some serious growth and tone development.

Man doing arm workout

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

All exercises to be performed for between 40-50 reps unless stated otherwise for a total of five sets each with a 60 second rest period in between sets.

Focus on performing a 2 second negative (on the way down), 1 second hold (at the bottom) and 2 second positive (on the way up) count for each movement.

The exercises are as follows:

  • Barbell curls
  • Preacher curls
  • ​Hammer curls
  • Triceps dips (use an assisted dip platform if need be)
  • ​Cable rope push downs
  • Reverse wrist curls
  • Reverse forearm curls

Ensure you fully stretch the arms at the end of your session to avoid blood pooling.

These session blueprints are going to provide you with a blisteringly effective means of developing the arms you’ve always wanted, provided you adhere to the training tips we discussed at the very beginning of this article.

Realistically, you’re going to find it almost impossible not to see any development provided your nutrition is on point whilst you stick religiously to the points raised in this guide - stay true to the rules, and the rules will look after you.

Do you have any preferred arm exercises or training tips that have worked really well for you? What’s your favourite arm routine?

If you feel that this article helped you in any way then please share it with as many people as possible in order to ensure that other people can make progress too - this article could be the difference many people have been waiting for.

We welcome your comments and we’d love to hear about your own arm training experiences both before and after integrating the tips laid out in this guide.

About the author

Michael Garrico

I’m a 29-year-old personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Miami, FL. I’ve spent the last 10 years staying at the forefront of the health and fitness industry.

In that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people shed the excess weight and get into shape, maintaining their healthy new lifestyle through proper training and eating habits.

Leave a Comment