It’s time to let the guns out, once and for all.
One of the most popular questions I get in regards to upper body is how to build massive arms and, well, I’m delivering 4 moves to do just that. Let’s put it this way: these will get your arms so pumped you’ll be praying for summer just so you can show them off sooner.
Side effect: driving home might be tricky after these moves.
Let’s get it.
Eccentric Training: A Key To Building
Before we dive into these epic arm builders, it helps to understand why they work so well. These moves (and really, in most of the more isolated moves we work on) focus on lowering weight, or in this case, bands or cables, slowly.
This is called eccentric training, and has been proved to increase muscle growth more than lowering at the same speed you’re contracting. This is because lowering slowly places extreme tension on your muscle fibers, which essentially creates more tears in the fibers. This cause more fibers to “heal,” or in other words, to grow. [*]
The key to eccentric training to apply to these moves is to focus on the lowering phase of the movement by lowering slowly. Pause for a beat at the top of the contraction of the move, then resist the urge to simply let momentum take over and pull your arms down. Hold the resistance by lowering slow and controlled.
Engaging Your Entire Upper body: Another Key For Building
If you want to build, you typically want to engage several large muscles simultaneously. This is hormone-based, since “big” lifts that engage more muscles (also called compound exercises) trigger a larger release of human growth hormone (HGH) and stimulate more testosterone production. As most of us know, both of these hormones are kings when it comes to muscle growth. [*]
These for moves may be isolating your upper body, but they’re working several muscle groups at once, either through contraction or isometrically through constant tension. Most are also heavily engaging your core to keep you standing or sitting tall against the tension of the band or cable.
Benefits of Working with Ropes and Bands
You’ll also notice that each of these moves are utilizing either bands or ropes in place of barbells or dumbbells. I know – it’s common to think of band exercises as bottom-tier when it comes to building any muscle, but trust me: when used correctly and with enough resistance, these babies build.
One of the main benefits of cables and bands aside from the variety and convenience they add to workouts is that they offer continuous resistance, which forces your muscles to be in continuous contraction throughout a movement. Unique to bands is the fact that they also increase resistance as you pull them, which also adds more tension at the start of the eccentric phase of a move.
4 Moves for Massive Arms
Alright, now for the goods. Follow along with these 4 moves (each are broken down step-by-step in the clips below as well) to start the gains’ process:
Perform exercises 1 and 2 back to back for 3 to 5 sets with 1 to 2 minutes rest in between sets and Perform exercises 3 and 4 back to back for 3 to 5 sets with 1 or 2 minutes in between sets.
1. Banded Bicep Curls
Banded curls get your bis firing, while the constant tension of the band isometrically works your shoulders and core as they work to keep you standing tall. Make sure to keep your back straight and shoulders back here, not letting the band pull your shoulders forward.
1. Start by grabbing your grab bar on a band tense enough to make you work to get in 10-15 reps.
2. Make sure your palms are facing up and feet are hip-width apart. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you curl up. Pause for a beat at the top of the exercise, then lower slowly.
3. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
2. Banded Bicep Pulldowns
These pulldowns work double-time on your arms, targeting both your triceps and biceps simultaneously.
1. Start by planting your feet hip-width apart and grasping your bar, palms facing down.
2. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, press the bar down, engaging your triceps.
3. Pause for a beat at the bottom of the movement, then raise the bar, slow and controlled.
4. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
3. Rope Extensions (Behind Your Back)
Seated rope extensions are going to torch those tris, plus isometrically engage your shoulders and upper back.
1. Begin seated, facing away from your rope cable.
2. Grab a handle in each hand, palms facing each other, and raise them over your head, leaning forward slightly. Avoiding letting your shoulders get pulled back by the weight, bend at your elbows to let the weight fall slowly, then push forward and up by engaging your triceps.
3. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
4. Seated Rope Curls
In this similar version of rope curls, we’re simply going to turn around and face the cable machine to target those bis.
1. Begin seated, facing your cable machine and holding a rope handle in each hand.
2. Lean back, holding the cable in front of you, keeping your shoulders back and down. Curl the cable, rotating your wrists inward midway through the pull.
3. Uncurl slowly, extending your arms fully.
4. Repeat for 10-15 reps.