Build Bigger Arms with this Workout Program


Ask most men why they are in the gym and you’ll hear the same answers. “I just want to lose some fat”, “I want to build some muscle”, “I want to improve my fitness”. But dig deeper and you’ll find out that most men want bigger arms. Ask most women and they’ll say that bigger arms would be off-putting but ask them if they want toned arms and you’ll probably get a different response.

No matter who you are, man or woman, you could benefit from training your arms more. But most training programs leave the arms as an afterthought. This is understandable, some lifters tend to overly-focus on arms and ignore legs or back.


But in recent years, it feels as if training arms is seen as a waste of time. Why focus on such small muscles when bigger muscles will provide greater strength gains? There are even some trainers out there who claim that training arms is pointless as chest and back exercises provide enough stimulation, and no isolation work is required.

This is understandable, but it ignores a common issue – particularly in new lifters. This is that weak biceps and triceps can prevent you from realising your potential in the bench press, or pull ups, or similar chest and back exercises.

What Does a “Bigger Arms” Program Look Like?


We’re not going to create a workout program that focuses solely on arms, this would be short-sighted. We’re going to create a standard program (ideal for beginners, but still effective for experienced lifters) but put a bit more focus on arms than usual. Yes, that means you’ll still have to squat and deadlift. Those legs need loving too!

The training program is going to be a four-day plan using a push/pull protocol. The reason for this is that you can train triceps on one day and biceps/forearms the next day. This isn’t by any means the only way to train arms, but it works well and we’re using it.

During the sessions, we will train the legs/lower back first to get them out of the way (only true masochists actually enjoy training legs). Then we will focus on compound movements for the chest or back (depending on whether it is push or pull). Then we will train arms.

So how is this different to a regular session?

Usually, a push session would involve a compound chest exercise such as the bench press, followed by a couple of auxiliary chest exercises such as cable flyes. Instead of performing cable flyes (that only target the chest) we will pick a chest exercise such as close-grip bench press that targets both chest and triceps. Then we will have a tricep only exercise.

This way instead of working chest three times and triceps twice:

  • Bench Press = Chest, triceps
  • Bodyweight dips = Chest, triceps
  • Cable Flyes = Chest

You would be working chest twice and triceps three times:

  • Bench Press = Chest, triceps
  • Close-Grip bench press (chest, triceps)
  • Tricep Pushdown (triceps)

It is a subtle difference, but over the course of one week you would be performing two more tricep exercises and two more bicep exercises. If each exercise was three sets of ten reps then you’d be performing an additional 60 reps of triceps and 60 reps of biceps.

Anatomy of the Arms


When it comes to the upper arm, the muscles that everyone associates with them is the biceps. But the biceps brachii (to use their correct name) actually only make up 25% of the muscles of the upper arm. The brachialis makes up around 18% and the triceps make up over 52%.

The brachialis is a muscle that starts in your upper arm and continues down to your forearm. It is mainly worked performing exercises such as hammer curls where you use a neutral grip. So to train your arms correctly, you want to be training triceps at a 2:1:1 ratio. Two triceps exercises, one biceps exercise, and one brachialis exercise.

It doesn’t need to be exactly like this, and our program won’t follow this ratio. But in terms of importance it is good to keep this ratio in mind. Don’t ignore your triceps, prioritise them.

Bigger Arms Training Program


The following program is based on a four day training week, train Mon/Tues, rest Wed, train Thurs/Fri, rest Sat and Sun. Obviously, you can move this around to suit your own needs. You may want to train once on the weekend and have Fridays off for example. It doesn’t really matter, that’s the beauty of push/pull programs.

If you are training for fat loss as well as muscle gain (very difficult but certainly possible) then you may want to add a 5th session that is cardio based. Alternatively, you can just concentrate on maintaining a calorie deficit and keeping your step count high.

Session One (Push)

Barbell Squats
(Warm up weight)
Barbell Squats36-8
Walking Lunges220
Dumbbell Bench Press
(Warm up weight)
Dumbbell Bench Press36-8
Overhead Barbell Press38-10
Close Grip Push Ups3AMRAP
Overhead Cable Tricep Extension312-15

Session Two (Pull)

Seated Leg Curls315-20
(Warm up weight)
Chin Ups
(Assisted Chin Ups if you can’t manage full chin ups yet)
Underhand Barbell Rows36-8
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls
(For each arm)
Abdominal Crunches Curls312-15

Session Three (Push)

Leg Press
(Warm up weight)
Leg Press412-15
Leg Extension312
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press315-20
Bodyweight Dips3AMRAP
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press38-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
(Superset with front raises)
Dumbbell Front Raises
(Superset with lateral raises)
Single Arm Tricep Cable Pushdown
(For each arm)

Session Four (Pull)

Lying Leg Curls Machine312-15
Romanian Deadlifts38-12
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown38-12
Underhand Grip Seated Cable Rows36-8
Standing Barbell Bicep Curls36-8
Long Arm Crunches312-15



  • AMRAP stands for As Many Reps as Possible, training to failure but maintaining 90% form. If your form begins to suffer then stop performing the reps. Quality over quantity.
  • Warm Up Sets = You can perform more warm up sets if you think you need to. The weight should be progressive. Start off with a medium to light weight for the first set. Increase slightly for the second set. Perform an additional set if you feel you need to. Otherwise, start your working sets.
  • Rest Between Sets = For the big compound movements (deadlifts, leg press, bench press etc) you’ll want around 3 minutes rest in between sets. A little longer if you really need it. For the isolation movements (leg extensions, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns etc) you can have a rest period of around 90-120 seconds. No rest in between the supersets obviously, but a rest after one set of each.
  • Recovery from Workouts = During a rest day you’ll want to first ensure that you are getting enough sleep. A minimum of 7 hours, but more if possible. Keep your protein high, and keep your step count high on off-days.


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About Matthew Smith

Matthew is a Level 3 Personal Trainer with the Register of Exercise Professionals. He has trained people both online and in person for over 7 years, and has written over 1 000 articles on fitness and nutrition subjects. He excels in fields such as: Nutrition (Weight loss and Performance), Exercise Science, Supplement Reviews, Gym Equipment Reviews. His website:

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