How To Build Arms Like A Pro | Gymtalk

How To Build Arms Like A Pro

Yes readers, it’s that time of year again.

When all the foreign football players have stopped wearing gloves and long sleeve tops it can only mean one thing…

Summer is coming!

And if you’re anyone that’s anyone, you need to be in tip-top condition to rock a vest for that one week of the year (in England anyway) where the weather will allow it.

Or you can be really bold and go shirtless for that summer BBQ.

It worked for Ryan Terry…

So what’s the key to wearing the tank-top/vest/singlet like a pro?

Well, having two tickets to the gun show helps.

dwight gun show gif

But, significantly, I’d say most people forget the shoulders when getting their summer body ready to be freed from oppressive sleeves.

You can’t just have gargantuan upper arms without some decent size shoulders to frame them.

Otherwise your arms will look like a couple of snooker balls in a sock.

So how can you ensure you get a great arm workout – while working in some shoulders – to get that wide look that will get the ladies hot and bothered (mostly bothered) when you head out into town?

Well you can start by following my workout tips below…

My workout suggestions

Chin Ups

Grab a bar with an underhand grip.

Then, from a dead-hang, pull yourself up until your chest touches you forearms.

This exercise makes for an ideal start to an arm workout as it uses the biceps, a host of back muscles including the latissimus dorsi, and your posterior deltoid gets a bit of a workout as well.

Not only will this increase the calibre of your guns, but having that broader back is going to help you fill out those sleeveless wonders.

Close-Grip Bench Press

Get under the bar using an overhand grip and grab hold of it with a just-under-shoulder-width grip.

Lower the weight to just under your chest and push it back up again.

Be sure to keep your elbows tucked close to the body to put the focus on the triceps.

Just like with the pull-up, close-grip bench press really focuses on the triceps.

But, with this exercise, you get the added benefit of having the anterior deltoid and pec major give them some assistance.

This allows you to put a bit more weight through the triceps, which means more muscle growth and more glory in the mirror.

Using the shoulders and chest is, again, going to help fill out any garment you plan on wearing for beach season.

Wide-Grip Barbell Curl

Hold a barbell with an underhand grip, hands a little over shoulder width apart.

Now perform a normal bicep curl.

Ensure you fully extend the arms on every rep.

No half reps here!

The benefit of this variation of an old classic is that you get to attack the long inside head of the biceps which will give you a nice ‘peak’ at the end of it all.


Dips are the ‘Big Dog’ among some of the more ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ tricep exercises.

Get on some Parallel Bars, a Roman Chair or a Dipping Station and lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

Keep your elbows tucked into your side to focus the effort on the triceps.

Add weight to make it even harder.

Dips are another exercise that work a whole bunch of muscles while pumping up your triceps.

Your deltoids, pecs and even your lats are going to get a bit of extra attention with this one.

Certainly an exercise which separates the men from the boys – and it will show on the beach!

Spider Curls

Lie face down on an incline bench.

Grab an EZ bar with an underhand grip and curl the weight up.

Don’t use any momentum.

This exercise nicely isolates the biceps but it does require you to check your ego before you start them.

Make sure you reach that peak contraction on every rep.

If you can’t get past the point where your forearms are parallel to the floor, lower the weight.

Overhead Tricep Extension

There is a variety of ways to do these types of exercise, but I like using a rope attachment on a cable pulley.

It can be performed with a dumbbell, and EZ bar, a pair of dumbbells… the list goes on.

Any overhead movement hits the short and lateral heads of the triceps which will bring out that coveted horseshoe on the back of your arms.

The added shoulder activation is a bonus too.

Extra reading

Face pulls

Face Pulls are a great extra move if you have any shoulder problems.

As well as some bicep work, you also get to hit the lower part of your traps.

Javelin Press

The Javelin Press utilises a little more tricep action than a conventional shoulder press.

The bonus being a lot of shoulder work and, if performed one arm at a time, a little core stabilisation as well.

Putting it all together with my ‘Friday Evening Pre-Pre-Lash Workout’

So, how should you put this knowledge to good use?

Let me show you.

Below is my Friday evening ‘Pre-Pre-Lash’ workout.

Be sure to have your tailor’s number on speed dial because you’re going to be splitting shirts after this.

Exercise Sets & Reps Rest Between Sets
Chin Ups 4 x 6-8 90 seconds – 2 minutes
Close Grip Bench Press 4 x 6-8 90 seconds – 2 minutes
Wide Grip Bicep Curls 3 x 9-12 60 – 90 seconds
Dips 3 x 9-12 60 – 90 seconds
Spider Curls 3 x 12-15 45 – 60 seconds
Overhead Tricep Extension 3 x 12-15 45 – 60 seconds

Make sure you use a fairly heavy weight on the more compound movements at the start and change the weight appropriately as the reps go up and always go to muscle failure.

And if you really want to see a sick pump, throw in some drop sets on the last set of each exercise.

Also, if you’re pushed for time, superset the pairs of exercises back-to-back.

And, as always, warm up properly beforehand and get your shoulders nice and mobile before you start.

Get in touch

Give my arm workout a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Or you can follow me on Twitter at CDBFitness and send me some abuse feedback there.

Until then, happy lifting!

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  1. Great article as always, what would you recommend for the slightly heavier man/woman who’s gonna struggle to hit the rep ranges on pull ups/dips (other than losing weight)?

    1. If your gym has an assisted pull up/dip machine that would be ideal.

      If not you can use resistance bands to assist you.

      Or even just use a narrower, underhand grip on a lat pull down machine.

      For dips, do them off a bench and put plates on you lap to make it harder.

      Also doing negative reps is totally allowed.

      Just jump yourself to the top of the movement and control your weight on the way down.

      Easy day.

  2. Tried this workout tonight, really really enjoyed it, so much more interesting than the usual ‘curl, extend, curl, extend’ arm workout.

    Although I didn’t manage to do all the reps of pull ups (5-6) and dips (7-8) definitely feel like I got more benefits from it.

    Would it be worth me throwing in another set of the two above exercises to try and reach the required rep numbers or just leave it as it is and try to get closer to the full set each session?

    1. Yeah I’d either add an extra set to get to the total reps or use ‘rest-pause’ to do it.

      When you fail, take 10-20 seconds to rest and then just straight back on it.

      Do it as many times as you need to complete the number of reps.

      How did you like the spider curls?

      1. Cheers.

        Yeah they were great, at the start of the exercise I was thinking I had them far too light.

        By the end I was struggling to go parallel, great pump.

        Once again by far the most interesting arm session I’ve ever done, keep them coming!

  3. Charlie, in the past I’ve dabbled with 21s.

    They always leaves my biceps sore as sin – but what’s your professional opinion?

    Do they provide a good ROI?

    1. I’m not a huge fan personally.

      Much prefer time under tension, especially for biceps.

      2 seconds up, 4 seconds on the way down.

      The pump will be silly if you’re strict on the counts.

      1. If it was good enough for Lou Ferrigno, it’s good enough for me!

        Saying that, when watching his training sequences in Pumping Iron, it’s pretty obvious he just chucked weights around, gurned and hoped for the best.

  4. Nice article.

    I’ve also found 21s to be effective at adding arm size.