By healthiergang writer Simon Byrne
Biceps and Triceps | The 6 Best Exercises for Massa
Let's be honest, the reason a lot of men start training is to build arm-piercing sleeves.
It is almost certain that the first time you grabbed a dumbbell your instinctive reaction was to lift it.
There is a certain attraction that men have towards building swollen biceps… although, many people do not know how to achieve these results and will come face to face with a stalemate in muscle growth.
People are often seen lifting weights for hours with little or no results.
In this article I will break down the various upper arm muscles and give you the 6 best triceps exercises and biceps exercises to really gain mass!
Anatomy of the Upper Arms
To build powerful arms, first of all you need to know the muscles you are going to train and their function.
The upper arms are made up of two main muscle groups:
- The biceps
Your biceps are formed by the long head (external) and the short head (internal) and make up 1/3 of the upper arms.
- The triceps
The triceps, as the name indicates, are made up of 3 heads: the long head, the short head and the medial head.
They also take up 2/3 of the upper arms which may come as a surprise to those who believe that the key to getting great arms is working your biceps!
To train your arms for maximum growth you need to make sure you train each muscle with specific sets of exercises - sadly, infinite curls aren't the secret.
The following 6 exercises, in my opinion, are the best to target each garment.
Start by building your triceps for maximum focus on growth.
1. Dips Triceps
This exercise is the king of triceps exercises!
Performing this movement using your own body weight has the benefit of naturally forcing your body to lift incredible weight, so the harder the muscle has to work the more muscle fibers are involved - leading to more growth!
Not only do dips involve all heads of the triceps but are performed with a minimum body weight that is vastly greater than the weight that can be lifted with an isolation exercise.
The movement can be done on a step or on a bench to start if you need to increase the strength in your arms.
If you have enough strength in your arms, you can directly use a set of parallel bars, usually placed on one machine for traction and dip.
If this is your first time dips on an assisted pull-up and dip machine, it would be wise to adjust the machine to roughly two-thirds of your body weight. It can then be re-adjusted when you master the movement.
a) Approach the machine, allow your arms to extend to your sides before grabbing the outside of the parallel bars with your hands with your thumbs facing in.
b) Slide your wrists at an angle behind you to allow your elbows to bend, making sure they can move in line with your forearms.
c) (If using an assisted machine, place your knees firmly apart on the platform). Slowly lower yourself until your bicep makes contact with your forearm to ensure complete relaxation in your triceps.
d) Push yourself up by fully contracting your triceps.
Sets and reps: - 3 x 8-10 reps for beginners, up to 5 x 10 reps as strength increases.
To progress with this exercise, increase the loads as you gain strength - if you are doing this unassisted exercise, increase the loads using a weightlifting belt that allows you to add plates or put a dumbbell between your legs.
2. Triceps Cable Press
Tricep cable presses performed using a cable machine are a great way to train the lateral and medial head of the triceps!
They are considered a key exercise in giving the muscle the much desired 'horse hoof' shape.
While using a V or straight attachment will allow you to lift slightly more weight, the rope attachment helps to isolate the muscle more with better contraction.
This is not a heavy weight exercise - choose a moderate weight.
If not already available, mount a rope attachment on the cable machine.
a) While standing, bend your upper torso slightly forward and hold the position. Grab the sides of the string with a normal grip, so that your palms are facing each other - be prepared to exhale during the next movement.
b) Keeping the contraction in the triceps throughout the entire movement, pull the string down so that both sides are brought up to the thighs.
c) Place your arms on either side of your body and stay that way at the end of each rep to eliminate any possibility of back help and ensure your triceps are doing all the work. The forearm should complete the movement.
d) After holding the position for 2 seconds, slowly lift the rope back to the starting position, inhaling as you move your arms up.
Series and Reps: 5 x 12-15 reps
At maximum extension of the arms, by moving the wrists away from the body and pulling the strings outward, you can achieve a large contraction of the triceps.
Try separating one side of the rope from the other while keeping your elbows close to your body.
3. Overhead Dumbbell Press
One reason many people fail to fully develop their triceps is that they don't know how to work the long head of the triceps properly.
The long head is under stimulated when it acts as an elbow extension when the shoulder is adducted or extended, consequently the long head needs to be stimulated with overhead work.
Overhead dumbbell presses can be done one arm at a time or with two arms by lifting only one dumbbell.
My advice when trying to increase the mass of the arms is to use the two-handed version so you will be able to use heavier loads safely while getting a good stretch in the eccentric part of the movement.
This is one of the triceps exercises that can be performed sitting for better balance or standing.
a) Positioning your shoulders out, grab a dumbbell with both hands before slowly lifting it over your head, fully extending both arms.
b) Place the weight comfortably in your hands so that you have a comfortable grip with your thumbs wrapped around the handlebar - your palms should be facing the ceiling. Be prepared to breathe during the following movement.
c) Focusing on keeping your triceps close to your head with your elbows locked, begin lowering the dumbbell towards the floor, feeling the tension in your arms as your forearms push towards your triceps.
d) As you exhale, contract your triceps and slowly raise the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat.
Series and Reps: 3 x 12-15 reps
This exercise can be performed with the elbows outward, although directing the elbows in front of you will involve the triceps more and allow for better relaxation.
4. Preacher Curl
Made famous by the late Larry Scott who enjoyed arms measuring 51cm in circumference at just 172cm in height, this exercise is arguably the best bicep isolation exercise around due to the fact that it is virtually impossible to "help" yourself when lifting. This exercise works on the long head of the bicep which is responsible for the sheer shape which gives the illusion of having much larger arms.
Getting it right is important - you will need to use moderate weights at first as Preacher curl is not an exercise where you can expect to lift very heavy weights.
Focus on lifting the weight with your biceps by contracting them as much as possible.
It can be performed with dumbbells, cables, or if you want to use a barbell or barbell with an EZ handle, use a wide grip to emphasize the short head or a narrow grip for more emphasis on the long head.
Perform it on a Scott bench, if this is not possible you can still perform it on a normal incline bench and use it to achieve the same effect.
a) Place your upper arms on the bench cushion with your chest firmly placed against it. The palms of your hands must be facing up whether you are using a dumbbell, cable, barbell or if you are using an EZ curl barbell your hands should be slightly bent inward due to the shape of the bar. If you are using only one arm, rest the other using it as a support.
b) Chest and arms firmly placed, grab the desired weight at shoulder height to complete your starting position.
c) Begin to inhale as you slowly move the bar / cable / weight down until your arms are fully extended - enough to feel a deep extension in your bicep.
d) As you begin to exhale, focus on lifting the weight by contracting your biceps back to the starting position, in line with your shoulders. At this point it is important to contract the biceps and hold the position for a few seconds.
Sets and reps: 3 x 8-12 repetitions
Beginners ED Experts:
Consuming a pre-workout 30 minutes before starting your workout will give you an energy boost to focus your potential until the last rep.
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5. Curl to Reverse Socket Cables
Just like a normal cable curl but with a reverse grip!
Again, you will not be able to use heavy weights with this exercise because the slow eccentric movement will strain your muscles.
It is important to perform a slow eccentric if you want to achieve significant muscle growth because this is how you stimulate the brachialis;
The brachialis is a muscle between the biceps and triceps on the outside of the arm - when you flex your arm you may see a small swelling.
The brachialis is located under the biceps and training and forcing it to grow will push your biceps upward.
This is a sneaky way of enlarging your arm and therefore it is crucial to perform the slow eccentric movement as this is how the brachialis responds best.
Using a straight or EZ attachment position the cable handle at the bottom - the reason it is preferable to use the cable for this exercise is that the constant resistance of the cable will keep tension on your bicep, while with a barbell you can rest in the lower part of the movement. losing muscle tension.
a) Standing with your torso straight, grab the handle frontally shoulder-width apart, reverse grip with your palms facing the ground.
b) Keeping your elbows close to your torso and upper arms straight, exhale as you raise the bar towards your head, contracting your biceps to shoulder height (moving your forearms only).
c) Maintain the contraction for 1-2 seconds.
d) Gradually release the bar slowly over the duration of 3-4 seconds.
Series and Repetitions: 5 x 12-15 reps
6. Curl Handlebar Grip Hammer
The final recommended exercise for building your upper arms is the hammer grip dumbbell curl.
Traditional curls are done with the palms facing up - hammer curls with the palms facing in and remain that way for the duration of the movement.
This exercise is effective simply because it allows you to use much more weight than in a traditional dumbbell curl which helps overload the biceps; the brachioradialis, a muscle of the forearm, is activated during the exercise in addition to the biceps, essentially there are two muscles that carry out the movement.
My advice would be to use a heavier load than you can lift with classic dumbbell curls. The previous 2 bicep exercises are the ones where you have to put a damper on your ego to get maximum results, while with the hammer grip, you can go heavy for 8-12 reps.
You can start by using light weights to practice the movement.
a) In a standing position, (contract your abs to help keep your back straight) grab a dumbbell in each hand, aligning your arms with your torso with palms facing inward.
b) Keeping your upper arms close to your torso, exhale as you squeeze your biceps to lift the dumbbell forward until fully contracted is shoulder height.
c) Hold the contraction for a moment. Again, for this movement, just move your forearm to keep all focus on the biceps.
d) Slowly begin to relax the muscles, bringing the weight back to its starting position. Repeat.
Perform variations of this movement: using a bench for back support, alternating one arm at a time if not already done for more contraction etc.
Series and Reps: 3 x 8-12 reps.
A tip not to be forgotten
You may or may not have tried these exercises before or may not have even heard of them before - however, I highly recommend doing them every week to take your arms to a new level!
And to get even more amazing results from your Biceps and Triceps workout, try our Whey Protein!PS.