How to Get Bigger + Stronger Arms FAST (NO BS Guide to Arm Training)

I don’t trust the person that says they don’t want big arms.

You’re lying to me. 

You’re telling me if there was a button in front of you that would instantly add inches to your bis and tris…you’re not pressing it?? Sounding like a red flag to me…

I don’t care if your chosen area of fitness has nothing to do with arms…deep down we all wouldn’t mind a little extra something something hugging the sleeves of our extra smedium t-shirt.

Bigger, stronger arms are not only an asset for completing basically every strength movement out there, they are also a psychological weapon for your next comp. Doesn’t matter what sport you play in particular…walk in there rocking some cannons and you are immediately going to be on everyone’s radar.

With all this in mind I wanted to provide a simple guide for everyone’s favorite training goal of “bigger stronger arms“, and leave all the internet BS behind. Here’s everything you need to know to build bigger stronger arms.

(Need a quick arm workout? Check out this video!)

1. Volume…Volume…VOLUME

Whenever we are talking hypertrophy (making a muscle bigger) if volume isn’t mentioned…you’ve already failed as a teacher. 

Volume will be your key driver for anything and everything hypertrophy related. The greater the total amount of reps and sets you are able to metaphorically send “down range” each week the better (up to a point obviously).

Put a lot of your initial focus here. First thing you need checked off your list for bigger arms is this question…”am I providing enough of a stimulus through my training volume for my arms to grow?

There are 3 main “states” of training volume you can land yourself in. (Keep in mind the number of sets and reps to be in each of these ranges varies from person to person so I can’t give you exact numbers)

MV (Maintenance Volume): This would be the amount of volume per week that would maintain your current progress. If you’re extremely strapped for time on your current schedule, or your arms just aren’t a priority right now you would land here. Maintenance for arms would not require much training at all. You’d be looking somewhere around 1 to 2 training sessions per week of 2 to 3 sets. Simple.

MEV (Minimum Effective Volume): MEV would be the minimum volume per week you need to actually see some progress with your arm training. Again, good goal to shoot for if you are strapped for time, or maybe you are just getting back into training and don’t need to jump straight to your MRV yet. You’re looking at somewhere around 2 to 3 training sessions of 3 to 4 sets.

MRV (Maximal Recoverable Volume): MRV is the maximum amount of volume per week you’d be able to recover from. Overshoot this and you’ll likely be impairing your progress instead of actually helping it. Pushing up to MRV would be for those that want to hit the absolute limit on their training progress. Individual MRV could be in quite a big range think anywhere from 3 to 6 sessions per week of 4 sets or more per session.

Each of these volume ranges will constantly fluctuate from person to person, and even within your own training cycles and the only real way to figure them out is for yourself by tracking your training and your progress consistently.

2. Frequency

I’ve mentioned high frequency training to increase your strength on the big lifts before. However, arm training allows for a unique style of high frequency training compared to basically any other movements out there.

You are able to train arms INSANELY frequently. The bros weren’t all wrong when they said everyday is arm day…

Arms are not particularly large muscles when it comes to our body as a whole. The maximum training load you’ll be able to use as well as the overall systemic fatigue you’re going to be generating won’t be all that much. What this translates to…your arms recover FAST.

You’re not going to need to wait around as long between arm training sessions as something more taxing like say, squats or deadlifts. Don’t be afraid to experiment with higher frequency than you may be used to.

It’s genuinely not outside of the realm of possibility to be able to program 5 to 6 arm training sessions per week without ever encroaching on your recovery. I’m not saying that 5 to 6 arms sessions per week would be exactly “normal” but certainly possible if you were very serious about growing your arms.

Most basic strength training programs will program 1 to 3 arm sessions per week and most basic hypertrophy programs will land around 2 to 4 sessions per week. Play around with your overall training frequency and don’t be afraid to exceed what may be “normal” if you are continuing to see progress with no negative effects on your recovery.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Strength

Most people who are really into training understand they need to be increasing their overall arm volume if they want them to grow. At the same time, however, they’ve been using the same exact pair of 35lb dumbbells for the last three years…

Don’t get so lost in volume that you forget to actually apply some load based progressive overload principles here.

For whatever reason, lot’s of lifters forget to ever actually increase the weights when it comes to their arm training. You should be. 

While overall training volume reigns supreme when it comes to hypertrophy the training load you are using still matters. If you are able to do the same total volume you started with but with greater load overtime, your arms are going to grow.

Now, this being said, you want to strike a balance between the training load you are using and your overall volume. If you are programmed to complete 4 sets of 12 reps for the day, but the current load you are using is only allowing you to complete 8 reps each set, it is inappropriate. Your training load should never be impeding on your prescribed volume, that still doesn’t mean you want to completely ignore it.

4. Select Arm Movements Based on YOUR NEEDS

If we wanted to look at this from a bodybuilding angle, we could talk about every different movement, at every different angle, to hit every possible sliver of muscle on your arms.

We’ll keep things more simple for this article.

Choose the arm movements in which you…yes you…actually feel a contraction in the muscle you are trying to train. As an example, if you only ever really feel a tricep exercise in your shoulders, just move on and pick a different movement. Likewise, if your favorite fitness YouTubers “super secret exercise for bicep growth” is just giving you elbow tendinitis instead of a sick pump…pick a different exercise. 

People are always going to swear up and down about different arm exercises, and how they are the only exercises that’ll make your arms grow, etc., etc., etc…

Start with something you can actually feel. Then worry about all the additional crazy exercises out there.

5. Eat Big, Get Big

Finally, if you are looking to go all in on building some bigger arms, you may want to consider a calorie surplus. 

Building a bigger stronger body in general requires you be in a calorie surplus. There is no getting around this. Obviously this isn’t to say you can’t build muscle without a surplus, or that training your arms would be useless without a surplus. Simply that the process in general will be significantly more challenging and most importantly, slower, if you choose to go that route.

If you are serious about seeing your arms grow, consider bumping yourself into even a small 200 calorie per week surplus to give your body the material it needs to actually grow a bigger stronger muscle.

 

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.