6 Tips to Build Big Arms

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When someone asks you to flex, you don’t flex your legs or your back. You flex your ARMS.

Arms make your physique look complete. Without big arms, you don’t look like you lift weights.

As a skinny-fat teenager I was always self-conscious about the size of my arms.

When I flexed my biceps, nothing would happen.

I had no biceps peak at all, and when I touched my arm I couldn’t feel any muscle at all. It was all soft.

However, that all changed after putting in several years of hard work in the gym and at the kitchen table.

Today, I often get comments about the size of my arms.

Therefore, I have written this article to share my 6 best tips on building big arms.

1) Want Big Arms? Eat Enough Calories.

A lot of guys want to build big arms while losing fat.

That’s VERY difficult to accomplish, since fat loss and muscle building are two conflicting goals:

  • To build muscle, you must fuel your body with a caloric surplus while training hard.
  • To lose fat, you need to eat a caloric deficit.

If you chase both goals at the same time, you will get NOWHERE.

Without sufficient calories, you won’t be able to push yourself hard enough at the gym to stimulate growth.

Also, your body won’t have anything to build from. The body needs surplus calories to build, so you better make sure that you feed it.

I’ve never gained size on my arms while being in a caloric deficit.

Therefore, don’t expect to build big arms while doing fat loss.

If you want to big arms, EAT BIG. Listen to your body, and feed it when it’s hungry.

However, don’t do it for too long. As a skinny-fat guy you’re bound to gain some fat during your bulks, so you want to keep your bulks to maximum 3 weeks.

2) Isolate Your Arms

If you’re reading this article, I assume that one of your weak body parts is ARMS.

A lot of internet experts will tell you that you will build big arms by doing big compound movements:

“Just do your squats, bench presses and deadlifts, then your arms will grow.”

For me, that was never the case. By doing those exercises, my legs, back and traps grew, while my arms remained skinny.

Once I started doing isolation exercises for my arms, they started growing.

Therefore, train your arms properly, by doing isolation exercises.

Now, there’s no exercise that will work for everyone, but I can tell you the exercises that worked for me.

Favorite Biceps Exercises

Dumbbell Curls

Close Grip Chin Ups

Seated Machine Curls

Favorite Triceps Exercises

Rope Pushdowns

Diamond Push Ups

Seated Machine Pushdowns

Those 6 arm exercises are responsible for most of the growth that I’ve had in my arms.

But, that doesn’t mean that they will work well for YOU. So, how do YOU pick the best exercises to train your arms?

That’s quite simple: do the arm exercises that feel the most comfortable for you, and get really good at them.

Just pick a few for biceps and triceps, and do them over and over again. Keep it simple, and see your arms grow.

3) Use Lighter Weights

It’s not about how much weight you can lift. The weight is just a means to an end.

It’s all about working the target muscle.

And, to focus on working your target muscle, you want to lower the weight.

If you think you can lift 80 pounds for 5 decent reps, then use 50 pounds and do 8-12 GREAT reps.

By using lighter weights, you’re able to focus on working your arms, instead of working your ego.

Now, some of you may ask: but isn’t it better to lift more weight to stimulate muscle growth?

Not necessarily. If you want to, you can make 50 pounds FEEL heavier than 80 pounds by:

By following the above mentioned principles, you will achieve a much better pump in your arms, compared to swinging around heavy weights.

4) Train Arms First

In my first year of training I made one huge mistake: I trained my arms at the end of my training.

When I got to work on my curls and triceps extensions, my arms were already trashed from the heavy presses and pulls.

It’s a mistake, because I wanted big arms, but I never trained them when they were fresh.

If you want your arms to grow, you should train them before anything else.

Once I decided to start every training session with several supersets of close grip chin ups and diamond push ups, I had better growth in my arms than ever before.

Today, I have my whole Wednesday dedicated to arm training. On this day I train my arms for 1-1.5 hours straight, and leave nothing in the tank.

Therefore, prioritise your arms and train them when they’re fresh.

5) Train Your Triceps Harder

Most guys want bigger biceps, because it’s the muscle you notice when you flex.

However, triceps make up 2/3 of your arm size, so it makes sense to train them harder.

I found that I can train my triceps much harder than my biceps, and that has enabled me to keep growing.

So, how exactly do you do this? There are several ways:

  • Once your biceps can’t do more work, stay for 10-20 minutes extra at the gym and trash the triceps.
  • Do diamond push ups at home throughout the day and/or when you wake up and go to bed.
  • Do triceps work on the days you don’t train arms. For example, if you train legs on Monday, finish off your workout with some triceps work.

I found I can train triceps pretty much every day, since they recover much faster than my biceps.

Experiment with this, and see what happens.

6) Take Regular Measurements

The final tip of this article is that you stay consistent.

Big arms, take years to build if you’re lacking good arm genetics.

There’s no way around staying consistent and putting in the time.

To stay consistent, measure your arms twice a month and note it down somewhere visible.

I use a whiteboard in my room, where I put down all my measurements every 2 weeks.

You need to track your progress in hard numbers, because it’s VERY difficult to see arm growth in the mirror.

How are you going to see a quarter inch growth in the mirror? You won’t, so make sure to take those measurements.

Furthermore, by noting down the measurements somewhere visible, you will be exposed to your measurements all the time.

This will keep you motivated to progress, and you will know what works and what doesn’t.

That’s it. Implement the 6 tips in your training and lifestyle, and I’m sure you will be on your way to build big arms!

Be proud but stay hungry,

Oskar Faarkrog

   

Download my bodyweight training program for skinny-fat guys (63-page PDF)

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Comments

  1. Oskar if i do full body workout with superset and dropsets and i do tricep and bicep superset first.. Should i do this workout 6 times a week?

  2. Hi mate, i already do 4 series of biceps, can i do 5? it’s not too much?

  3. hey oskar nice article
    so I gym Monday to Friday n I mix my workouts chest,arms,shoulders and back at the same time..do you think it’s cool I’m New at this gym life I want muscle and I’m skinny

  4. hi oskar nice article. i’m 16 and i weigh 143 pounds. any advice for bulking up?

  5. Hey Oskar I’ve done this for a while and I haven’t gained like anything so…

  6. Reetanshu says:

    Hi my chest is 36ench and arm is 12.how can I build more only at home workout

  7. Great article.
    Chinups were originally known as best bicep curls and are great way to add inches to your arms.
    Another great way is to work with compound movements which would add overall mass to the body.

  8. Hi Oskar,

    Nice article. How can we beef forearm? Will working on biceps and triceps help build forearm? Or do we need isolate them too?

  9. Can I do one day dropset ,next workout supersets,next workout more TUT or is better 3-6 weeks of dropset 2 weeks of rest 3-6 week of supersets 2 weeks rest………..Thanks oskar

  10. hello oskar my arms are not hard.Im do more TUT .What do you think about a big routine of supersets.This routine have 6 parts of biceps supersets and triceps supersets,first 2 exercises of biceps with 90 sec of rest 3 sets.second 3 exercises of triceps 3 sets,third 2 exercises of biceps 3 sets fourth 3 exercises of triceps fifth 2 exercises of biceps exercises 3 exercises of triceps.Every exercises are differents.How time can I do routine with supersets and drops sets 3 weeks? I never did supersets should I do a easier routine of supersets before this routine?Im bulking now Im a skinny guy with great level in calisthenics.Im doing exercises with light weight and my arms burned.Thanks oskard

  11. Reply to my question

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I do not know if doing wrist curls alone will build your forearms since I have never done those. I’ve never heard of anyone training nothing but forearms. If you have 15 minutes to workout and all you want to do is forearms, then you got to set your priorities straight. In 15 minutes you can do several sets of chin ups, push ups and squats. Those will build mass all over your body, including your forearms.

      • Towel hangs are amazing for forearms. I would instead try rope climbing rather than only doing forearm isolation.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Hey Vinner, I’ve seen you help out many of my readers recently and I just wanted to say I really appreciate you take time to do this since I can’t get back to every message myself

  12. hi, your website template and layout is very similar to victor pride’s bold and determined. i wonder if two of you are affiliated in some way?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I have been a fan of Victor’s work for several years now. His articles about blogging inspired me to start. I use the same theme as he does, because I love the design.

      I’m currently not an affiliate of his products, however I have written an article for his website and skyped with him to get advice, so I do know him.

  13. I just want to build my tiny 10 inch forearm.i want 12 inches.i do wrist curls and reverse wrist curl.will it help to gain mass.i am very busy so i dont have time for whole body till december.dnt tell me to change my schedule bcoz i cant.i do these exercises while watching tv for 15 min only.

  14. Hello oskar I like body of spartan and how create the illusion wide shoulders.Victor say we should do first strenght exercises and you say its better do first arms.my forearm are very skinny my arms too,I do diamond push ups 2,3 or 4 times in the day.which is the better option for my first or after ? Thanks oskar I can send you my routine for email.:)

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I have never said it’s best to do arms first. I recommend beginners to gain strength through bodyweight exercises first. Diamond push ups and chin ups train your whole upper body.

      There’s only one way to find out which one is better: try both and see for yourself.

  15. 92cm chest,31cm arms,49cm thighs,77cm waist..what do u think.these are good measurements or not

  16. Hi.im from india.i want to know what is your arm,chest,waist,thighs measurements.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Arm: 38 CM
      Shoulder: 131.5 CM
      Chest: 111 CM
      Waist: 85 CM
      Thigh: 61.5 CM

      • Hey oskar, your chest and arm look way bigger than the measurements you’ve given. I am very tiny but even my chest / arm is 102 and 36 respectively. So yours must be way more … maybe your arm measurement is without flexing?

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Hey Mark,

          Last time I measured my arms flexed they were 38. My chest was around 112 unflexed. They look bigger than they are because I have a tiny bone structure and I have no fat on my arms.

  17. Nice post man. Arms have always been my weak point so it’s good to read something like this. I have noticed that using a LOT of volume and really focusing on strict form have made the most difference. When I am doing tricep extensions or curls now I actually turn sideways and watch myself closely in the mirror, to make sure my elbows are not moving.

    I follow most of the things you recommend, but I never thought of training arms before everything else. Thanks for the tip!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you and you’re welcome. You’re right, especially about form. You want to work the arms and not the ego.

  18. Cool post Oskar,

    Yeah, I’m myself a compounded movement type of guys and I don’t to much isolation exercise, but I have to admit that set of biceps curl would be a exception to that rule.

    Nice blog man!

  19. Tim Alger says:

    so how many calories do you think i should be eating?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      You told me that you already eat just 2000 calories a day, and still don’t lose weight. I wouldn’t go lower than 2000 since that’s quite low already. Do you NEED to lose that weight, or is it because you want to?

  20. Hi Oskar,

    Great article. I’ve spent a whole summer mixing up my workouts and I’ve definitely made gains, but still find myself on the skinny fat side of things (no definition). I’m not looking to be a body builder, but would like to make it to the other side and get leaner with muscle definition. I’m thinking that I’m not eating enough, but just curious what a bulk would look like for someone with “non body building goals”.
    I’m 36, 5’8, hover around 160. I workout about 5x a week.

    My current diet looks like this:

    7:40 am – 2 eggs
    8:00-9:00 – workout
    9:40 am – greek yogurt
    11:00 – whey protein shake
    12:30 – Lunch -normally tuna, turkey salad. Normally try to walk at lunch or squeeze in a run
    2:30 – fruit serving
    3:30 – almonds
    4:30 – cottage cheese
    6:00- normally chicken, brussel sprouts

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Ken,

      When you bulk as a skinny-fat guy you need to keep several things in mind:

      You want to start lean and keep the bulk short to minimize fat gains. 3 weeks MAX.
      You want to gain weight every week by eating a caloric surplus.
      You want to eat enough carbs to fuel your workouts. (Your diet seems very low in carbs). My favorite carb source is white rice. I eat that in unlimited amounts during bulks.

      If I was you, I would increase the carb intake, and make sure I gain weight every week. As long as you train hard, eat surplus calories and enough carbs, you will gain muscle.

      The definition comes from cutting the excess fat you gain during your bulk.

    • You have to eat 10-12 egss per day….
      Ur diet plan is not so gud…
      U should have to take more calories for building ur arms

  21. Tim Alger says:

    yes and i have just stayed the same all round same muscle same fat

  22. Tim Alger says:

    Hey oskar I’m 15 and i recently hit a weight loss plateau trying to go from 144 to around 130 ish is my goal right know I’m stuck at 136 and have been for 3 weeks eating about 2000 calories a day and need to loose the last 2-4 pounds in the next 2 weeks as i have hockey tryouts and need to be lean. I started off at 16% BF and no am at around 14% right now. So what do you think i should do? i plan on doing a high cal day tomorrow around 3200 calls to get my hormones in check. I am on the ice once a day and doing insanity aswell as heavy lifting 4 times a week. I just really need to loose these 4-6 pounds in 2 weeks to get to 10-12% body fat muscle right know is not an issue as i barely have any and am more focused on getting lean i will bulk after.

    ps. Amazing progress hoping to be like u

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks Tim,

      How have your measurements changed in the last 3 weeks? You might have lost some fat and gained a bit of muscle with all that training you do, thereby staying at the same weight.

      • Tim Alger says:

        yes and i have just stayed the same n idea whats going on any tips to lose this quick

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          “I am on the ice once a day and doing insanity aswell as heavy lifting 4 times a week.”

          If you need to lose weight fast, I suggest you reduce carbs, but that would conflict with all the training you do.

          Usually, when I want to lose fat, I reduce my training.

  23. Ashwajeet Singh says:

    Hey Oskar,

    Loved this article. REALLY helpful.

    Thank you. – Ash

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Glad you like it Ash, how’s the progress coming along? You made a GREAT transformation so far.

  24. Great tips, Oskar!

    While there will be considerably more growth with isolations, I’ve gained a full 2.5 inches to my arms in the last 2 years with only about 6 total months of direct arm work. Maybe they came from just those six random months lol but I doubt it.

    Even then, I think one of your best points here was frequency. The more often you train them, the better to an extent. I had a 3 week period where I trained them 5x per week, and gained almost a half inch. Both measurements were taken without a pump on an off day too.

    I still think my arms are tiny at 15″ on the dot, but looking back to where I started at about 12.5… I’m glad to be where I am now!

    Keep up the great work!
    -Gabe Johansson

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks Gabe,

      Those are some good gains!

      Yeah I found that high frequency training works very well for my triceps. I can train them almost every day.

  25. Hi, Oskar!
    I’ve been following your site and bodyweight routine for 2,5-3 months ( don’t remember exactly ) and I love the results i’ve lost ~ 9 pounds ( although I eat more than before ), moved from 7 to 12 good form pull ups, from very lousy 3 to 18 firm diamond push ups ( also a little progress on getting to pistol squat ), and overall I look better ( even some small gains maybe :) ). But over the period of last 3 weeks Im stuck, not making any progress. It have been happening to me over last years – I start workout routine ( weight, body weight – doesn’t matter ), I develop and then BOOM, it stops for months, no matter what i do. As a skinny fat I probably have poor genetics. Any suggestions?

  26. Awesome Oskar!

    One thing I should add as to why compound movements are not the way to go, if you want to build awesome arms is because one arm is always going to take on more work than the other arm.

    I benched my ass off and did most exercises with a barbell and I can clearly see a big difference in my right and left triceps–my right triceps is bigger.

    Maybe adding dumbbell work and first doing the set with your weakest arm and then with the strongest arm (the same reps as with your weak arm, even if you could do more) will help you maintain balance between the left and the right arm. We want to keep things aesthetic.

    Just my 2 cents :)

    Dejan

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks Dejan,

      I do a lot of dumbbell work, and my right arm is still slightly bigger than the left arm. It doesn’t bother me too much, since the difference is minimal.

      How big is your right arm compared to the left?

    • The difference is noticeable but minimal … maybe a centimeter less, something like that.

      Bring on the dumbbells :)

  27. Deschain says:

    What would you say is a big arm size to shoot for when you are a 5’11 skinny fat guy? I would like to get mine up to around 16′ they are under 15 at moment and look small and out of proportion compared to everything else.

    Thanks

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      It’s difficult to say, since it depends on bone structure, how much fat you have and how big your other muscle groups are.

      For example, take 2 guys of the same height.

      Guy 1 has a thin bone structure, no fat and a proportional physique.
      Guy 2 has a thick bone structure, a lot of fat and a huge chest and shoulders compared to his arms.

      Both guys can have 15″ arms, but the first guys arms will look way bigger than the second guys.

  28. Great article, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for recently as I tend to have skinny arms despite doing a lot of pushups etc. I also eat a ton but have a tough time gaining weight.

    I guess I’ll just need to really ramp it up in the next month or so.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you, definitely give those tips a try and let me know how it works out.

      • Hey Oskar,

        Thanks for posting this article.

        There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. What I can tell you is that I’ve been going to the gym consistently for 2 years now – maybe I’ve missed 20 sessions total (with a MWF schedule) due to illness/laziness/surgery recovery etc – and I don’t have much to show for it least of all in my arms.

        I followed the ‘do compounds, lift super heavy, eat a lot’ advice and while I haven’t been very good at eating a lot due to prep times required and laziness – you’d still expect some nominal gains.

        I’m going to try your advice here and work on more isolation of my arms – and what you said about lifting lighter weights for more focus vs heavier weights really resonates – anytime I’d curl 35-40lb dumbbells for 5-6 reps even with the best form possible it never felt like my biceps were actually getting that work – as if somehow the rest of my body was compensating.

        Dropping down to 25s and 30s and it’s a world of difference where I can actually feel some pump and DOMS.

        Thanks again

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