For most lifters, building muscle is a key goal, if not the main goal, of putting in work in the gym. If you want to build muscle, you’d better get to know hypertrophy training. Put simply, hypertrophy training focuses on making muscles grow, and a solid hypertrophy arm workout deserves a slot in your gym rotation (along with leg and chest hypertrophy workouts).
Any hypertrophy routine requires three key factors in order to deliver gains:
- Volume: This refers to the total number of sets (and cumulative reps) of work the muscle is exposed to in a workout or across several workouts.
- Intensity: The amount of loading a muscle takes on.
- Mechanical Tension: This refers to the muscle spending time under tension throughout its functional range of motion. Doing that requires looking closely at the muscle’s action within the body and prioritizing exercises that challenge the muscle through as much of its range of motion as possible.
For most lifters with a decent fitness baseline, the best way to achieve hypertrophy benefits is to zero in on different body regions one workout at a time. Of course, this is better known as isolation training. Using isolation training methods to favor one group of muscles in a given workout allows you to spend your entire time in the gym giving that muscle group a serious pump.
When done correctly, and supplemented with a healthy, protein-rich diet complete with a caloric surplus (i.e. consuming more calories than you burn while working out), the body will respond by making that muscle group grow. Below, I’ve applied this method to the arms. Read on for the best hypertrophy arm workout to add to your workout regimen.
About the Arms
The two main arm muscles, the biceps and triceps, each contain multiple muscle heads. As their names imply, the biceps are a two-headed muscle and the triceps are a three-headed muscle. Because of their anatomies, it’s essential to hit them from multiple angles using different forces and grip variations. That way, you’ll properly access and fatigue the entire muscle across all its heads, rather than biasing only one part of the muscle over and over. That’s why this workout includes some serious variety—it promotes holistic growth of both the biceps and triceps.
The Best Hypertrophy Arm Workout
- Perform A1 and A2 as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds. If chinups aren’t much of a challenge for you, add resistance by wearing a weight belt.
- A1. Close-grip Chinup x Max reps
- A2. Dip x Max reps
- Perform B1 and B2 as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 90 seconds between rounds.
- B1. Hammer Curl x 10: The hammer curl uses a neutral grip rather than the supinated grip classic curls ask for. This allows better access to the muscles of the forearms and a deep upper-arm muscle called the brachialis. Working these muscles can help fill out the circumference of the upper arm.
- B2. Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension x 12: The overhead triceps extension is an old-school movement that hits the long heads of the triceps muscle. To do this move properly and avoid aggravating the shoulders, hold the dumbbell with flat palms underneath the weight and slide forward in your upright seat while keeping the upper back in contact with the backrest. Aim for a deep bend in the elbows by letting the weight pull the triceps into a nice stretch at the bottom of the move. It’s OK if the elbows flare outward a bit to allow this.
- Perform C1 and C2 as a superset for 3 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.
- C1. Straight-bar Biceps Curl x 10
- C2. EZ-bar Skull Crusher x 10
- Finisher: Perform D1 and D2 as a superset (2 rounds) with no rest between rounds.
- D1. Band-resisted Biceps Curl x 30 seconds: Use a lighter resistance band so you can achieve high reps within the allotted time.
- D2. Close-grip Pushup x 30 seconds
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