You want big arms. We’ve made it our mission to help you get there, too. We’ve written about how you can build arm muscle without weights, bodybuilding exercises you can do that will really help meld those arms with your upper body, and, of course, simple workouts that can get you started with building your arms, and even more that will help you target individual areas.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation of muscle, using your traditional lifts and bodybuilding exercises — bench press, overhead press, etc. — it’s time to switch things up, particularly if you want to add some serious inches to your measurements.
Unconventional bodybuilding exercises
After digging around, we’ve discovered a handful of tough and somewhat unconventional bodybuilding exercises that should help you bust through your plateau. These moves should help trigger new muscle growth and fight off any cases of muscle memory you may be experiencing, helping to propel your upper body appendages to new heights — or girths.
So here they are, six bodybuilding exercises that will help you add even more inches to your arms.
1. Hammer curls
Hammer curls don’t just sound badass. They are badass. So badass, in fact, that a lot of people simply can’t handle them as beginners, and need to work their way up.
If you really want to give your biceps a workout, hammer curls are a good way to go. They’re a slight variation of traditional curls, and are often called “neutral-grip curls.” They’re simple to execute, as you merely keep your palms parallel when performing the lift.
2. Reverse barbell curl
A twist on a classic, the reverse barbell curl can prove, for some, to be quite challenging. The reverse curl will shift some of the brunt of the work from your biceps to your forearms, which will help build muscle in an area not often targeted by conventional lifts. And doing the exercise itself is pretty simple — all it requires is a repositioning of the hands so that you’re grasping the bar with your palms facing downward. Think of how you hold the bar when doing cleans; it’s like that.
3. Grasshopper push-ups
Standard push-ups will only do so much for you — so switching it up and throwing your body a curveball can help with additional muscle growth and tone. One push-up variation is the grasshopper push-up, which you can see demonstrated above. Getting the movement down can be awkward at first, but once you’ve nailed the form and execution, you’ll see improvement in not just your arms, but your abs and chest as well.
4. Cable push-down
For the cable push-down, you’ll need access to some gym equipment and required attachments. To get the gist of the exercise, take a look at the demonstration video above. It’s a fairly simple movement — fully extending your arm — but you can see from the way Savas Cebeci is doing it that his arm muscles are really feeling it. Using a rope attachment, this is one of the premiere ways to target your triceps, which will lead to well-rounded, muscular arms.
5. French press
No, we’re not making coffee.
The French press is a lift that can be done from either the seated position, or standing. It’s an exercise that really hammers at your triceps and requires only a barbell or dumbbell to perform. As you’ll see in the demonstration video above, it’s relatively simple — but it can be much more difficult than you might think. You’re basically keeping your elbows in a fixed position, pulling weight behind your head, and pushing it straight above. One rep, and you’ll feel it. For targeting your triceps, there are few exercises that are more successful.
Chin-ups differ from just about every other exercise on this list in one important way: They’re simple. But their simplicity is what makes them such an ingenious and timeless exercise. Chin-ups are a fantastic way to put your entire upper body to work and can really give your arm muscles a run for their money.
Though they’re not as intimidating as they sound, skullcrushers are a great way to help build mass in your upper appendages. Still, as soon as you’re flat on your back and busting out some reps, you’ll see where they get their name. Skullcrushers are done by lying back, and bringing the bar and weight from your chest to your forehead, as you can see in the demo video above. It’s a fantastic move for building your triceps.
Drop the bar? Crushed skull. Pretty clever.
8. Spider curls
Spider curls aren’t one of the more well-known curl variants, but do some searching on lifting forums and message boards, and you’ll find swaths of bodybuilders and lifters who swear by them. In a way, they’re like an upside-down skullcrusher. Just check out the demo video above for an example.
9. Weighted dips
Dips are easy and simple enough, but weighted dips increase the difficulty by a good degree. If you need a relatively easy exercise to add to your routine, and one that’s going to help build arm mass, try weighted dips. These are done just like regular dips, with the exception of added weight. You can add the weight in a number of ways, so see what options your gym has. The basic idea is to just make dips more difficult to do, thereby increasing the work your muscles are putting in each rep.
10. Close-grip bench press
A classic twist on one of the most basic lifts, try mixing up your grip when benching to spur more muscle growth and utilize or activate some muscles that are lying dormant. The close-grip bench press will concentrate the work among muscles in your shoulders, arms, chest, and abs, and if you’ve never tried it before, you should feel the difference the next day when the soreness kicks in. You can also try wide-grip bench presses to mix things up even further.