There's no doubt that toned, muscular arms are aesthetically pleasing. But there's more to it than that. Having bigger arms is a sign of strength and power for many men. It's a way to show the world that you're a capable, confident individual. Additionally, toning up your arms can make you feel better about yourself.
It can boost your self-esteem and give you a newfound sense of pride in your appearance. When you have strong, defined arms, you feel like you can take on anything. So if you're wondering why men want bigger, toned arms, now you know. It's not just about looking good - it's about feeling good.
So, if you want to take your arms to the next level, here are some great advanced level arm strengthening exercises. Follow them and see a visible difference yourself!
Advanced Exercises for Bigger Arms
While incorporating different arm movements each week may seem like a waste of time, including an array of new motions can help optimize your bicep growth and strength gains because the variety in exercise is crucial when you're trying not just to see changes but also feel them.
1. Standing Kettlebell Bicep Curl
Any standing bicep curl done with free weights can help you gain muscle mass. Standing kettlebell curls, on the other hand, maybe even more effective than typical barbell and dumbbell curls.
Because of the nature and shape of kettlebells, there is much more consistent tension throughout the exercise, especially in the top contracted position. Resultantly, you will have more muscle fibre stimulation and motor unit recruitment.
With this bicep curl variation, the kettlebells pressed against the forearms prevent the typical cheating technique (also a type of curl) because bringing your hands over chest height feels unnatural and uncomfortable. Generally, the kettlebells force you to employ proper curling techniques by limiting, if not fully eliminating, traditional cheating techniques.
Although the technique of this variation is comparable to other curl variations, there is a difference in the hand positioning. The kettlebell handles should lie in the mid-upper palms of your hands instead of the lower palms and fingers. It secures the kettlebells and prevents rotation and slippage.
How to Do It?
- Stand tall with your arms by your sides. Each hand should hold a kettlebell with a supinated grip initially.
- Slowly start folding your arms at the elbows by keeping your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise. You can also loosely grip the kettlebells to keep its heavy ball part hanging down.
- Return to the initial position by lowering the kettlebells in a controlled motion.
2. Dumbbell Curl With Eccentric Isometric Lunge
Although it is a combination of arms and lower body exercise, the stress on the bicep is exceptionally high and has numerous other benefits.
The lunge position pushes the lifter to adopt smooth and controlled lifting mechanics because excessive momentum, cheating, or swinging will lead the lifter to lose balance. When done correctly, a lunge involves a minor hip hinge, which tilts the torso over 20-30 degrees.
It maintains tension throughout the motion, especially when in the contracted position. During most dumbbell curl variations, this is when the bicep muscle is momentarily resting and relaxing, reducing muscular activation, particularly in the short head of the biceps. By maintaining constant and high levels of intramuscular stress and cellular swelling, the lunge position completely resolves this situation.
Furthermore, the lunge's forward tilted torso angle enables the dumbbells to go through a broader range of motion than a traditional dumbbell curl. This wide range of motion activates more motor units and increases mechanical stress and muscle injury in the biceps, both of which are important for enhancing the hypertrophic stimulus.
Muscle hypertrophy is the increase in the growth and size of the muscles due to strength training when muscle protein synthesis surpasses muscle protein breakdown.
How to Do It?
- Stand tall with shoulders relaxed, chin up, and arms at your sides.
- Lower your hips keeping one leg forward till both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Ensure that your front knee is straight on top of your ankle and that your other leg remains off the ground.
- Maintain your weight on your heels.
- Raise your forearms and bring your weights to your shoulders, keeping your elbows at your sides and palms facing towards you.
- Lower your arms to your sides once more.
- Return to the starting position by pushing off with your front foot.
- Repeat with the other leg.
3. Decline Kettlebell Skull Crushers
Bodybuilders believe that the decline-angled skull crusher is better than a flat position when you are targeting the triceps. In addition, they say this pose produces a greater range of motion which allows for higher levels of stretching and thus better muscle hypertrophy mechanism or muscle growth due to trauma (microtrauma).
According to a 2020 study, targeted triceps exercises to boost bench press strength. One such exercise is skull crushing. Your triceps combine with your pectorals and anterior deltoids to drive the weight up and maintain it during the lowering phase of the exercise.
The decline crushers focused on the tricep’s lateral muscles, which play a crucial role in shoulder and elbow extension.
How to Do It?
- Make a moderate -15 to -30 degree slant on a decline bench.
- Kettlebells should be held in an overhand grip within shoulder width.
- If your bench has foot holders, lie down and loop your feet beneath them.
- Raise the kettlebells to the point where they are squarely above your head.
- By pulling your shoulders back and bending your elbows, lower the kettlebell.
- Descend until your triceps are fully stretched.
- To raise again, bring your shoulders forward gently and extend your elbows until they're fully locked out.
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4. Kettlebell Hammer Curls
The kettlebell hammer curl is an excellent bicep and biceps brachialis exercise that works the forearms and minor muscles surrounding your hands and wrists. The movement ends with the kettlebells in an extended lever arm position because of the mechanics of the unique loading mechanism, making it exceedingly tricky yet extremely efficient for maintaining continual stress on the arms throughout the movement.
You'll also need to drop the weight by about half of what you'd typically use for hammer curls because they're pretty difficult. The lesser loads mixed with continual strain, on the other hand, will make your biceps cry at the end of each set, resulting in muscle pumps and cellular swelling that are impossible to duplicate with other exercises.
You can only lift lighter weights for this exercise may appear frustrating, but it isn't because the brachialis is a slow-twitch muscle. As a result, high reps, larger training volume, and slower tempos work best for it.
How to Do It?
- With a neutral grip, hold two kettlebells by your sides.
- Curl the weights toward your shoulders while keeping your wrists straight.
- As your biceps and forearms make contact, squeeze your arms.
- Control the descent of the kettlebells until your elbows are fully extended.
- Repeat 3-4 times for a total of 12-20 reps.
5. Incline Kettlebell Curls
Incline kettlebell curls target the long head of the biceps muscles by curling with the weights behind your torso. This lifting technique, like seated incline curls, physiologically emphasizes the biceps' outer muscular fibres helping you produce a better peak.
Since kettlebells exert power differently than dumbbells, incline curls with kettlebells provide a more severe muscular contraction than conventional curls. This creates more consistent stress, making your biceps work harder for the duration of the repetition. In other words, incline kettlebell curls provide a forceful contraction and a terrific stretch for your biceps.
How to Do It?
- Set the inclines bench to a 55-65 degree angle.
- Sit up straight and use a supinated or palms-up grip to secure both kettlebells in both hands.
- Curl the kettlebells as high as you can while keeping your biceps stiff.
- Return to the beginning posture after squeezing the biceps.
- Repeat 3-4 times.
6. Hanging Band Barbell Curls
It's tough to deny that classic barbell curls are effective. Unfortunately, many lifters adopt improper technique and extra momentum to raise more weight than their strengths are capable of. This reduces the stimulus to the biceps and encourages faulty mechanics that can lead to pain and inflammation of the shoulders, elbows, and low back.
The hanging band technique (HBT) is one option that considerably reduces these concerns while also maximizing the efficiency of barbell curls (HBT). For that, simply loop any sort of workout band through free weights (e.g., kettlebells), then join the bands to the barbell's outer collars to hang them from the bar.
The HBT method causes constant oscillations in the barbell, making the exercise more difficult because it necessitates more stabilization, proprioceptive feedback, muscle activation, and fine-tuned mechanics.
Proprioceptive feedback is sensory information that provides the brain with an accurate representation of body mechanics and position. Its function during any movement is to assist the nervous system in recognizing the best mechanical pattern of movement for a given task.
How to Do It?
- Hang kettlebells on the bar and hold the barbell in an underhand grip while standing tall with your chest high and core engaged.
- Start the action by bringing your hands slightly up to activate your biceps while keeping your chest high and elbows by your sides.
- Bring the bar up to shoulder height while maintaining biceps tension.
- Squeeze your biceps a little.
- Lower the bar slowly and steadily to the starting position.
7. Dumbbell Hammer Preacher Curl
The preacher hammer curl is an excellent exercise for building muscle. The pad helps you keep your arms in an optimum position of maximum isolation, which means that the movement can lead to faster gains because it targets specific areas without being too spears or heavy on other parts of our bodies like legs.
Traditional hammer curls are excellent for building arm strength, but they can be challenging to do correctly. You might find yourself swinging the weights up when they become heavy. With preacher curls, though, since there's no room for cheating and your arms are supported by pads that force good form, this won't happen as easily, and you perform the activity conveniently.
How to Do It?
- Choose your target weight from the rack and sit straight on the preacher bench with your chest straight against the bench.
- Maintain a neutral grip with your hands facing up and your upper arm pressed into the pad.
- Slowly lower the weight away from your shoulder while taking a deep breath.
- Curl the weight back to the initial position after fully stretching the bicep.
- On both sides, repeat for the appropriate number of repetitions.
8. Reverse Grip Bench Press
The bench press is one of the most popular chest and triceps movements. There are numerous grip variations for the bench press, with each variation focusing on slightly different muscles than the standard one. A notable variant is the reverse grip bench press.
According to a study, when compared to other styles, the reverse grip bench press produced greater activation of biceps brachii. It means the biceps are more pumped up and activated during reverse grip bench press providing maximum strength to the arms.
How to Do It?
- Lie down on the bench with your feet flat firm on the floor and your hands somewhat wider than shoulder-width.
- Your shoulder blades must be squeezed together and in touch with the bench.
- Lift the weight while inhaling and keeping your upper back taut.
- Ensure your upper back is taut at this stage.
- Inhale and unlock the elbows as you bring the bar to your chest.
- The bar should be perfectly straight.
- Lower it till the bar reaches your sternum.
- Push it back and lean on the bench.
9. Continuous Tension Alternating Kettlebell Skull Crushers
The constant-tension alternating skull crusher can be the most challenging tricep mass builder, but it's also one of the most effective. Simply lie down on a bench or the floor and alternate between skull crushers and kettlebells.
The steady pulling force caused by the kettlebells, combined with the eccentric isometric maintained at the bottom position, causes massive amounts of mechanical strain, metabolic stress, and muscle injury, making them one of the single biggest mass-builders you'll ever use for your triceps.
If you want to take things to the next level, do them with your lower body raised in an isometric leg raise posture the entire time because it produces concurrent activation potentiation.
Concurrent activation potentiation is a neurophysiological phenomenon caused by increased stress in the lower body and core. It leads to enhanced motor unit recruitment and innervation all across the triceps and increased neural drive to the legs and arms.
How to Do It?
- Set the angle of the inclined skull crusher to somewhere between 30-45 degrees. Choose the kettlebell that you want to use.
- Sit on the bench with the kettlebell between your thighs.
- Lay down and raise the kettlebells above your head with your arms extended. Keep the kettlebell in an overhand grip.
- Extend the kettlebells over your head, up into the air. Maintain triceps tension by keeping your arms slightly bent.
- Bring the kettlebell to your forehead while keeping your elbows fixed.
- Push the kettlebells above the stretched position again after a brief pause.
- Continue with another rep without locking your arms.
- Rep until you've completed the required number of reps.
10. Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions
The kettlebell tricep extension is an efficient mass-building action because it hits all three triceps heads while emphasizing the largest of these heads, the long head, through its shoulder extension placement.
The kettlebell overhead extension, unlike the typical overhead tricep press, puts consistent strain on your triceps throughout the rep. Because the bottom section of the kettlebell is always attempting to draw your arms back, your triceps must work harder to lock out each rep.
How to Do It?
- Take a tight grip on the sides of the kettlebell handle.
- Lift it off and press it over your head until the weighted portion and the handle are nearly parallel to the ground.
- Pull your elbows in, and then bend your elbows to drop the kettlebell behind your head.
- Descend slowly and steadily until you feel a strong strain in your triceps muscles.
- Reverse the motion by contracting your triceps and straightening your arms completely.
- Dean, Jesse C. “Proprioceptive Feedback and Preferred Patterns of Human Movement.” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, vol. 41, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 36–43. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1097/JES.0b013e3182724bb0.
- Gj, Lehman. “The Influence of Grip Width and Forearm Pronation/Supination on Upper-Body Myoelectric Activity during the Flat Bench Press.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 19, no. 3, Aug. 2005. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://doi.org/10.1519/R-15024.1.
- Kholinne, Erica, et al. “The Different Role of Each Head of the Triceps Brachii Muscle in Elbow Extension.” Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica, vol. 52, no. 3, May 2018, pp. 201–05. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aott.2018.02.005.
- Krzysztofik, Michal, et al. “Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 16, no. 24, Dec. 2019, p. 4897. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897.
- MACE, ALEXIS P., and CHARLES R. ALLEN. “The Effects of Concurrent Activation Potentiation on Bat Swing Velocity of Division II College Softball Athletes.” International Journal of Exercise Science, vol. 13, no. 1, Dec. 2020, pp. 1630–37. PubMed Central, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745898/.
- Stronska, Katarzyna, et al. “The Effect of Targeted Resistance Training on Bench Press Performance and the Alternation of Prime Mover Muscle Activation Patterns.” Sports Biomechanics, May 2020, pp. 1–15. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1080/14763141.2020.1752790.