Big arms are a status symbol amongst the gym going populace. They represent not only strength and aesthetic value, but are also a visual representation of the time and effort a dedicated exerciser has invested in their physique. Nearly every guy who has ever stepped foot in a gym wants them and some women do too. After all, men do not hold the monopoly on muscle and strength. However, big arms are not easy to attain. That being said, here are some fundamentals to getting them:

Get the count right. In a lot of ways, getting results in the gym is all about the numbers. Hypertrophy, otherwise known to gym rats as lean muscle growth, requires a different number of repetitions than training for endurance or maximal strength. Too few or too many reps will limit the amount of growth muscles experience.

For proper hypertrophy to be stimulated, is between eight and 12 reps. A higher number of reps will increase endurance and a lower number will increase strength, but neither will do much for increasing the overall size.

Lift the right weight. Muscles respond to being overloaded by increasing the amount of tissue in them. No overload means no size.

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So even if you are lifting the weight a total of 12 times per set, if you can actually lift the weight more than 12 times, it’s too light and the set will not help you accomplish your goals. Alternatively, if you can’t lift it at least eight times, it’s too heavy and hypertrophy is hindered.

Don’t forget about triceps. People love to see a big pair of biceps flexed, but the triceps are the muscle group that gives the arm most of its volume. The more emphasis placed on triceps, the fuller the arms will appear.

Failing to train the triceps right will result in thin arms. Even if the peak of the biceps manages to rise decently, the arms will remain unimpressive without the thickness supplied by the horseshoe shaped muscles.

A one dimensional attack leads to one dimensional results. Biceps and triceps are groups of muscle; it’s even in their name. Groups of muscle will respond better when they are worked in multiple ways.

Rather than just performing the standard concentration curls or preacher curls, incorporate reverse-grip curls, rotation curls and hammer-grip curls. Skull crushers are great for triceps, but so are cable extensions, reverse-grip press and close-grip bench press.

The more ways you stress your muscles, the more they will have to adapt to the different stressors and the more hypertrophy will be stimulated. Muscles will fill out nicely in response.

Eat smartly. You can’t build a bigger house unless you get more materials. In like manner, muscles need something to build with in order to get bigger. This primarily comes in the form of protein, which is used in muscle synthesis.

Few people doubt the role protein plays in building muscle, but its counterpart, carbohydrates, often gets overlooked. Some people decided a while ago to get rich from selling the idea that carbs are bad and a lot of people bought it. It’s not true.

Carbs are not only the body’s natural source of energy, but they are essential for muscle growth. Carbs are stored in muscles and contribute to their overall size and function. Not consuming enough carbohydrates means losing the stores in the muscles.

Additionally, when carbs aren’t consumed, the body has to use protein as an inefficient source of energy and this takes it away from being used for muscle synthesis. Without enough carbs, big muscles aren’t going to happen.

I’m not going to act like the cover of many fitness magazines and say something foolhardy, like ‘this is the guaranteed way to get bigger arms in six weeks,’ because the truth is that it takes a long time to get the kind of results most people want. Some people will face a harder battle than others because their genetics just don’t want to cooperate.

While applying these fundamentals is not guaranteed to make you the envy of gym rats everywhere, they are fundamentals nonetheless. That means that disregarding them is almost a guarantee that big arms will never happen.

Train smart, eat smart and put in the work. That is the path to reaching any fitness goals you may have. Go hit the gym and get ready to show off the ‘guns.’

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Chris DeLeon
Chris DeLeon is The Criterion's news editor for the 2017/2018 academic year and a certified personal trainer and military veteran. He is in his second year at CMU, working towards a bachelor of science degree in exercise science before going towards a doctorate in physical therapy. Chris began writing seven years ago but recently brought his love of the written word to journalism.


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