Fitness | Total Shape

The Best Arm Workouts of All Time
Advanced Exercises for Bigger Guns

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

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.

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

12 BEST ARM EXERCISES

It’s now time to individually target them and create the most prominent set of arms possible.

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. (1)

weight-lifting

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.

1. Cross Body Hammer Curls

Areas Covered: Brachialis, Biceps

How-To: 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. 

2. Normal Hammer Curls

Areas Covered: Brachialis, Biceps

How-To: 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.

hammer-curls

3. Reverse EZ Bar Curls

Areas Covered: Brachialis Forearms

How-To: 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.

reverse-curl

4. Barbell Curls

Areas Covered: Biceps

How-To: 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.

barbell curls

​We’d rank chin-ups, EZ-bar curls and dumbbell curls as better bang-for-your-buck moves because they force the biceps to work through a fuller range of motion, as well as allowing your wrists and elbows to stay in a more natural position throughout each stage of each rep.

​Joe Warner, Coach Mag UK

5. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Areas Covered: Biceps

How-To: 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.

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.

incine dumbbell curls

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

6. Preacher Curls

Areas covered: Biceps

How-To: One of the best arm exercises that you can do, 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.

Man showing how to perform preacher curl

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.

7. Skull Crushers

Areas Covered: Triceps

How-To: 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.

skull-crusher

8. Cable Rope Extensions

Areas Covered: Triceps

How-To: 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

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. (2)

You can vary this exercise with dumbbells or barbells. Learn the difference between ​barbells vs dumbbells vs cables.

9. Triceps Dips

Areas Covered: Triceps

How-To: 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 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.

triceps dips

When your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, return the body to the starting position by extending the arms. Never go beyond 90-degree as you'll risk injury in your shoulders - if you want a shoulder workout, check this article out.

10. Reverse Wrist Curls

Areas Covered: Forearms, Biceps

How-To: 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.

Man showing how to perform reverse wrist curl

11. Straight Bar Reverse Curls

Areas Covered: Forearms, Brachialis

How-To: 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.

straight bar reverse curls

12. Fat Gripz Integration

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 while at the same time, developing big forearms and overall general thickness.

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

Fat Gripz
Green Button

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.

Learn more here:

3 Killer Arm Workouts For Any Goal

The following section contains a list of arm workout 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 your workouts at least every month to create the results you’re looking for.

1. General Mass Building Workout

This arm day 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.

Scheme of a man doing barbell skull crushers

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 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Preacher curls 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Skull crushers 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Triceps dips 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Cross body hammer curls 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Reverse ez bar curls 3 sets x 6-8 reps

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

2. Arm Isolation And Toning Workout

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

All exercises to be performed 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:

Man doing arm workout
  • Incline dumbbell curls 4 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Preacher curls 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Hammer curls 2 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Skull crushers 4 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Cable rope extensions 4 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Reverse wrist curls 4 sets x 10-12 reps

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

3. Total Arm Development Workout

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.

Man doing arm workout

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.

  • Incline curls 2 sets x 15-20 reps per arm total
  • Preacher curls 4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Triceps dips 4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Cable rope push downs 4 sets x 8-10 reps per arm total
  • Cross body hammer curls 4 sets x 8-10 reps per arm total
  • Hammer curls 2 sets x 15-20 reps per arm total
  • Reverse curls 4 sets x 8-10 reps

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

Did we miss anything?

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.


​References:

​1. Duston Lapray, WBFF Champion Andreia Brazier's Favorite Arms And Abs Workout!, retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wbff-champion-andreia-braziers-favorite-arms-abs-workout.html

2. Stephen Bryan, Cable Rope Overhead Triceps Extension, retrieved from https://www.nwitimes.com/niche/get-healthy/fitness/cable-rope-overhead-triceps-extension/article_3c282d60-7054-5e95-a3c6-00c8e31303a1.html

About the author

Isaac Robertson

Isaac Robertson

I’m a personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Indianapolis, IN. I’ve spent the last 8 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. You can read more about me here​.

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