How to Build Bigger Arms at Home?
What Arm Muscles Are Usually Worked Out?
Every man wants to have strong and muscular arms. For this, there is no need to visit a gym. If desired, it is really possible to build arm muscles at home, without spending money on a gym membership. However, you will probably have to spend money on purchasing some sports equipment. If you already have a barbell and dumbbells at home, you can use them to accelerate the process of building bigger arms.
So, the human arms contain many muscles, but some of them are the most often trained:
- Biceps brachii (responsible for flexing the arms);
- Triceps brachii (being the major extensor of the forearm at the elbow joint);
- Forearm muscles (that allow you to perform various movements with hands and fingers, such as taking objects and holding weights with your hands).
Their location is shown on the following picture:
Must-Have Equipment for Home Workouts
It is perfect if you have some pieces of fitness equipment, such as a couple of dumbbells, a barbell, a sports bench, parallel bars, and a bar. However, not everyone can afford all of that (find out how to make dumbbells at home in our article). Fortunately, you can replace these items with the improvised means, for example, plastic bottles filled with water or sand.
Working with such equipment is not very convenient, so if you have a great desire, you should better buy some "iron" for your workouts. Until that time, you have to perform exercises with your own body weight.
You can train your arm muscles twice a week. On the first training day, you can work out your biceps and triceps, on the second one – delts (shoulders) and forearms. So, let’s discuss the most effective exercises for these muscle groups that can be performed at home.
Make Your Shoulders Wider
We know that delts consist of three heads – the anterior (front) deltoid, the lateral (side) deltoid, and the posterior (rear) deltoid. The anterior head is the strongest one that is involved in many arm movements. For instance, the popular barbell bench press is the exercise where the front deltoid is pretty much involved in the work. It is involved in the movements when we need to raise something up above the head.
The side and rear deltoids are usually less developed. However, the training of these parts of delts can make your shoulders look wider, while not giving them real strength and power. They work mainly in pulling or flying movements.
You should work out your shoulders with dropsets using light weights. Note that it is dangerous to perform the exercises with maximum weights: considering the structure of the shoulder joint, it is easy to injure. Therefore, you should not chase the weights in your shoulder workouts, but you should try to feel the working muscles, rather than use heavy weights.
The classic option is performed with a barbell. It targets anterior and lateral delts (to a lesser extent). To perform the exercise, you should grab the barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width apart grip, arch your lower back, and place the barbell on your chest muscles. Then, on an exhale, lift it up over your head, and lower it down to your chest as you inhale. Your lower back should be arched, and you can use an athletic belt to protect your back from injury.
If you have neither barbell nor dumbbells at home, you can use 5-liter plastic bottles with water or sand. Make sure that you choose the bottles with strong handles. You can use other improvised means as well, depending on the things you have at your apartment.
This is one of the basic exercises for shoulders. You should note that improper position of your back may cause spinal problems and lower back pain, therefore, you should always use proper exercise technique when working out. 4–5 sets of 10–15 reps are enough.
Standing Dumbbell Flyes
Depending on the technique, side and rear delts are involved in work to a different degree. Dumbbell flyes are performed with light weights. 5–8 kg for each arm would be enough. If you are a beginner, you can start by using two-liter bottles with water (if you can grab them comfortably).
The technique is quite difficult, and not everyone can perform the exercise properly at the first attempt, without coach’s assistance. You should stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Hold the dumbbells (or their substitutes) in both hands. On an exhale, extend the dumbbells out to the sides (like a bird waving its wings). Raise your elbows above the level of your wrists. You should bring your wrists to the level of your chin or slightly higher.
We suggest you using the following dropset (without rest):
- 10–12 reps with 8 kg dumbbells;
- 10–12 reps with 5 kg dumbbellsг;
- Maximum number of reps with 2 kg dumbbells.
Try to perform 3–4 such sets, until you feel your shoulders burning, but it will greatly benefit, and you will be a step closer to your goal of building beautiful and sculpted arms.
Work Your Bicep
Bicep workouts should be diverse. Besides, in order to involve both heads of this muscle group, you should remember to load the brachialis that is located under the biceps. The training of this muscle pushes up the bicep peak.
There are several basic bicep exercises. Note that although reverse grip pull-ups refer to this group, they cannot be fully used in building your arms. This is due to the fact that the back muscles work pretty much together with the biceps, and it takes a lot of energy. Often, it prevents you from focusing on the target muscles and putting all your energy on working your arms only.
Standing Barbell Curl (Biceps Curl)
This exercise is so popular that, perhaps, everyone who just once peeped into the gym saw somebody doing it. Some athletes, due to their physiological features, use a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell. This option is equally as good. If you have no sports equipment, you can use some household objects as additional weights. For example, a bag with sand, 5-liter bottles with water, etc.
To perform the exercise, you should stand straight with your knees slightly bent, and grab a barbell with a reverse (underhand) grip. The width of the grip can be different, choose the one that suits you best. At the lowest point and top point of the movement, keep your arms tense and do not relax them. Four sets of 8–12 reps are enough. For more detail about the exercise technique, see our article.
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
So, we have found a good exercise for building bigger biceps, what's next? We should remember to work out the brachialis as well, because it can make the bicep peak look even bigger.
Dumbbell Hammer Curl is one of the most popular and effective exercises. The starting position is the same as in the previous exercises. Grab the dumbbells or bottles with sand with both hands. Your palms should face each other. Keeping your wrists straight, curl one dumbbell up to the shoulder level, slowly lower it down to the starting position, and then do the same with your other arm.
Keep your elbows by your sides. The part of the arm that is above your elbow should also remain immovable. Bend your elbows slowly and avoid swinging your torso. 3 or 4 sets of 10–15 reps are enough to load the brachialis and get a positive feedback from it on the rest days. For more detail about the exercise technique, click on the link.
While performing the exercises listed above, you should maintain proper upper body position – it should not shake. Otherwise, you shift the load from your biceps to the entire body. The effectiveness of your arm workout decreases several times.
Grow Your Triceps
If your goal is to make your arms bigger as fast as possible, despite popular belief, you should focus on triceps exercises rather than biceps ones. Tricep muscles consist of three heads. Working out this muscle group can significantly increase the size of your arms.
Parallel Bar Dips
This is one of the best basic exercises for working the arm extensor muscles. You should use a narrow grip (shoulder-width or slightly narrower). Just while performing body-weight exercises, your arms get a significant load.
To isolate the triceps and shift the load to it, you should perform the exercise with your back straight, knees flexed, and your feet behind you. Thus, you minimize the involvement of your chest muscles.
If you can do more than 4 sets of 20 reps with a minute rest between the sets, you can start to add extra weight, for example, perform weighted dips by adding something heavy on a dipping belt (a 5-liter bottle with water, a bag with sand, etc.).
What should you do in case there are neither indoor nor outdoor parallel bars? You can perform the dips by using a pair of chairs – just place them shoulder-width apart. Be careful and keep the balance so as not to fall down.
Also, you can try a safer variation. Place one of the chairs behind you (set your hands against it with your fingers facing forward), and put your feet on the other chair that is in front of you. Bend your elbows, they should flare back instead of out to the side. If it is too easy for you to perform the exercise, you can increase the resistance by putting a few books or other weights on your torso. Perform 4–5 sets of 10–15 reps.
Ordinary push-ups are, perhaps, the most popular and easily accessible strength training exercise. There’s no doubt in their effectiveness, but, unfortunately, you cannot build up muscle mass with them. Nevertheless, they can help you tone your arms and make them more sculpted.
To complicate the task, you can perform handstand push-ups. If you cannot keep the balance, you can set your feet against a wall. It is quite difficult to perform such variation of push-ups. You should remember the main thing about this exercise – placing your hands too far apart will work your chest muscles, not your arms. You need to place your hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.
You can find various push-up training programs here.
Actually, many people underestimate this exercise. Despite the fact that it is performed with quite light weights, it works the triceps pretty well. And again, you can replace the dumbbells with a pair of bottles with sand or water.
You need to find some support in the form of a table, back of a chair, etc. Arch your back, place your hands alongside your body. Press the elbow tightly to your side and constantly control it so that it remains immoveable. Start to flex and extend your elbow, meanwhile, avoid swinging your torso. You should perform all the reps of the set first with one arm and then with the other.
At the top position, you can pause for 1–3 seconds to tense all the muscle fibers of triceps. Three or four sets of 10–15 reps are enough to fill the muscles with blood and trigger their development.
Is It Worth Working Out Forearms?
In fact, very few athletes work out their forearms separately. There are a few pulling exercises for the major muscle groups that tense and strengthen these muscles.
To increase the strength of the grip, you can do bar hanging and other similar exercises. To strengthen the tendons, you need a pair of dumbbells or other items as their substitutes. You should grab the weight and slowly rotate it clockwise, and then in the opposite direction. You can do it by time or by the number of circuits.
Peculiarities of Female Training
The listed exercises can be used by women as well. You should not use the heaviest dumbbells or ten-liter bottles with water to perform them.
To tone your arms and make them more defined, you should use 3–5 kg dumbbells.
The number of reps should be increased to 20–25, and your pace should be pretty fast. The rest time between the sets should be no longer than 1 minute.
Control your heart rate all the time in case you haven’t done sports before, because intense physical activity can negatively affect your health.
If you have neither barbell nor dumbbells at home, you can replace these items with the improvised household means: plastic bottles with sand or water, weighted bags, etc. This equipment can help you tone your arms and increase their size and strength.
We strongly recommend you to use the exercises listed in our article, because they are basic and highly-effective. Remember about regularity of training, because a couple of workouts cannot make your arms massive and strong.
The results will not come quickly. It may take at least three months of intense training. However, you can speed up the process of muscle growth by sticking to a healthy diet (consuming fewer carbohydrates and more protein), taking protein shakes or other sports supplements.
In other cases, regular training and a proper workout program for gaining muscle mass are all that you need.