Guns, pythons, Old Thunder n’ Lightning — whatever you call your arms, a muscular set will definitely demand attention. Arms are traditionally one of the first parts of the body people try to build up when getting in shape, as they are right out front for everyone to see. So, it’s important, at least for some people, to pump “Rock” and “Roll” up; you know, to send a message.
There are three major muscle groups that lifters target when exercising the arm: triceps, biceps, and forearms. Of course, your arms are intricately related to other muscle groups in your body as well — notably the chest and back, and even your abs. For that reason, arm exercises will also give those muscles a workout, and build additional resolve in your core.
There are a multitude of arm exercises, and corresponding workout programs available for perusing. You can build your own routine too, but the trick is to figure out which exercises will help you bulk up, build definition, and grow significantly stronger. To help you get there, in true Cheat Sheet style, we’ve put together a short list of some of the most effective moves to give you a head start.
Here are five exercises that will help you build your arms into the lethal weapons you’ve always wanted.
1. Tricep pull-down
Targeting your triceps? The tricep pulldown is the exercise you need. Also called a tricep pushdown, you’ll need a rope attachment and a pulley machine to add this to your routine. From there, the exercise itself is fairly straightforward. You’re just grabbing the rope attachment and pulling down. Be sure to stand straight and let your arms do all the work — you’ll really feel it in the triceps when you’ve got it down. Just make sure you’re bringing the rope back up slowly, and getting full, solid reps in.
2. Hammer dumbbell curl
This exercise just sounds bad-ass: the hammer dumbbell curl. If you’re familiar with curls — as anyone building their arms up should be — then this variation shouldn’t cause too much trouble. In fact, the biggest difference between this exercise and traditional dumbbell curls is the grip. Instead of holding the dumbbells horizontally, turn your wrists 90 degrees so that your thumbs are pointing to the ceiling — then pound out the reps. The basic action is that of swinging a hammer, hence the name. Hammer away, and watch your biceps swell.
It doesn’t get much more simple than a pull-up. Using your body’s own weight, you can give your arms as good of a workout as you can ask for. All you have to do is find a bar, hang from it, and pull yourself up. This can be a real challenge for a lot of people at first, but as with anything, work at it, and you’ll be busting out several in no time.
Pull-ups are popular in many fitness circles, and will target your back muscles, along with your biceps. They should be a shoe-in for any muscle-building workout.
4. Bench press — close-grip
The bench press should be in steady rotation as a part of any lifting or fitness routine, but if you’re specifically trying to target your arms, as opposed to your chest and core, a slight adjustment is in order. By moving your hands closer together (a closer grip, if you will), you’ll be putting more of the lifting burden on your arms, specifically the triceps. For those inexperienced on the bench, it’s best to have a spotter on-hand, as a close-grip lift can be a bit different from the traditional bench press. Of course, you’ll still be using plenty of other upper-body muscles, but by adjusting your grip, you can give your arms a serious workout.
Dips are another relatively simple exercise that don’t require any special equipment, or even dumbbells or barbells. The trick is to simply find a place you can pull them off, and that can sometimes be tricky. Once you’ve figured that out, the process of doing dips is pretty easy. You’re doing a basic bodyweight exercise that basically consists of lifting yourself up and down, using your arms. Dips really work your triceps, along with your chest and abs, and can help strengthen your core.
For those who can bust out a solid set of dips without much trouble, weighted dips can also be incorporated into your routine.