Ultimate Arm Workout Routine: Get Bigger Arms in 4 Weeks

add mass bodybuilding hypertrophy physique May 22, 2023

Alright, folks, let’s dive deep into the world of arm workouts. Finding the right information can be as challenging as searching for a needle in a haystack. It seems like every article out there is written by someone who doesn’t have a clue about proper lifting techniques and cannot engage the whole body. If you’re looking to create muscular imbalances, then read those pieces, but if you want real results, you better look elsewhere, my friends.

As a trainer, I incorporate arm exercises into the workouts of both my online and in-person clients. However, if they have specific goals in mind, I design a protocol tailored to their needs. Let me give you a couple of examples. Let’s say you want to be jacked, a bodybuilder, or a competitor looking to improve symmetry. In that case, we need to focus on specific arm work to score higher in those competitions. If you’re just a guy or a gal who wants to rock short sleeves on vacation, we can help you achieve that goal too.

This is a specially developed routine that will give you a great full body workout and emphasize building those arms and fixing the twin twigs you call guns.
Stick with this routine for four weeks, and if you’re feeling extra motivated, you can push yourself for an additional month. But remember, moderation is key, my friends.

Now, let’s dive into some science. We’re going to explore the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy, the process of muscle growth. According to Dr. Brad J. Schoenfeld’s research in 2010 (it’s old, but still worth the read), there are three key mechanisms in which hypertrophy activates: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscular damage. These mechanisms work together to induce muscle hypertrophy and are incorporated into our protocol.

Mechanical tension refers to the force exerted on the muscles when lifting heavy weights. This tension stimulates the muscles and leads to muscle growth.

The next mechanism, metabolic stress, is not understood by the scientific community, but it involves subjecting the muscle fibers to additional stress factors. The increased stress recruits more muscle fibers and creates favorable conditions for hypertrophy to occur. One way to induce metabolic stress is through techniques like drop sets or high-rep sets that create a burn and pump sensation.

So we have muscular damage, which occurs when you subject your muscles to enough volume and intensity. This damage triggers the muscle tissue to repair and grow stronger and larger, preparing it for future workloads. Increasing the weight load in each workout is effective for muscular damage and hypertrophy.

Different athletes have different training approaches. Bodybuilders, for instance, train with moderate loads (around 60-85% of their one rep max) and moderate to high volume, using multiple sets and repetitions with short rest periods to create metabolic stress. Generally, powerlifters focus on higher intensities, lower volume, and longer rest periods to maximize strength and hypertrophy potential. Both approaches are effective in their own ways and can lead to strength and muscle gains. In fact, improving one aspect can have a positive impact on the other.

It’s important to use multiple training methods. Theoretically, if you increase the cross-sectional size of your muscular tissue, you can handle heavier weights, which should allow for increased muscularity. Improved strength gains also enable you to use heavier loads, leading to increased muscle size when combined with longer repetitions and more sets.

Now, let’s move on to the program itself. The sets and reps will vary each week, so pay attention to these changes. It’s crucial to warm up, especially before the first exercise of the day. I recommend performing 1-2 warm-up sets using 50% and then 80% of your working weight. Keep in mind your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), which measures how hard you’re pushing yourself during each exercise. The RPE scale ranges from 1 (easy and bored) to 10 (maximal effort).

Using the RPE scale helps you tune in with your body and understand the intensity of your workouts. It allows you to work smarter and more efficiently, ensuring that you’re pushing yourself and taking the rest periods. The scale helps you personalize your workouts based on your own capabilities and goals. For example, a beginner athlete’s max effort may be lower than that of an experienced athlete. By assigning a number between 0-10 to each workout, you can gauge your intensity level and track your progress.

Let’s look at the benefits of using the RPE scale. It helps you measure progress without relying on external measurements like heart rate or power output readings. By taking ownership of your training program and tailoring it to your personal experience, you can achieve better results. With practice, using the RPE scale will become second nature and ensure that you’re getting the most out of each workout.

Broken down, week by week:

Week 1:

  • All sets and reps: 3 sets of 10 repetitions, with an RPE of 7 on the 6th repetition. On the final set, rest for 15 seconds and squeeze out as many additional reps as possible.

  • Time under tension: 2-second count raising, 2-second hold, 2-second lowering.

  • Rest time: 75 seconds.

Week 2:

  • All sets and reps: 5 sets of 5 repetitions, with an RPE of 9 on the 4th repetition. On the final set, drop 50% of the weight and complete a set of 20 repetitions.

  • Time under tension: 2-second count raising, 1-second hold, 4-second lowering.

  • Rest time: 90 seconds.

Week 3:

  • All sets and reps: 4 sets of 8 repetitions, with an RPE of 8 on the 4th repetition. On the final set, drop 20% of the weight and complete the same number of repetitions as the previous set.

  • Time under tension: 1-second count raising, 3-second hold, 3-second lowering.

  • Rest time: 60 seconds.

Week 4:

  • All sets and reps: 3 sets of 20 repetitions, with an RPE of 6 at the 12th repetition.

  • Time under tension: 2-second count raising, 1-second hold, 2-second lowering.

  • Rest time: 45 seconds.

Let’s move on to the training days and exercises:

Day 1:

  • Deadlift (sumo or conventional style)

  • Push-ups

  • Poor man’s preacher curl

  • Overhead dumbbell tricep extensions

  • Incline dumbbell curl

  • Overhead tricep extension with cable

  • Roman twists (3 sets of 50 reps)

Day 2:

  • Close grip bench press

  • One-arm dumbbell bent over row

  • Chest dips (use the assisted machine if needed)

  • Barbell curl

  • Lying barbell tricep extension

  • Hammer curl

  • Bosu ball weighted crunch (5 sets of 15-25 reps)

Day 3:

  • Chin-ups (use the lat pulldown if necessary)

  • Floor bench press

  • Standing wide D-ring cable bicep curl (use the cable crossover machine)

  • Skull-crushers with dumbbells

  • Zottman curls

  • Reverse cable curls with a straight bar

  • Cable crunch (4 sets of 12-15 reps)

Day 4 (Everything Else Day):

  • Back squats

  • Standing overhead barbell press

  • Walking lunge

  • Bent over barbell rows

  • Leg raise (4 sets of 10-25 reps)

A few notes to consider:

  • Measure the circumference of your bicep to tricep on both sides of your body before starting the program.

  • Take photos wearing a short sleeve shirt or tank top from the front, side, and back. Record the time of day, lighting conditions, and wear the same shirt for the final photos at the end of 1 or 2 months.

  • If an exercise causes discomfort, be wise and reduce the weight.

  • If a movement itself is painful, find a suitable substitute. search the exercise term followed by the word “substitute” to find alternative options.

To delve into the research supporting these principles of muscle hypertrophy, I’d like to highlight a groundbreaking paper by Brad J. Schoenfeld in 2010. The paper explored the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Schoenfeld’s findings emphasized the importance of incorporating various elements such as mechanical tension, muscular damage, and metabolic stress in an optimized training protocol to achieve maximal muscle growth gains.

By understanding the science behind hypertrophy and employing the principles outlined in this program, you can target your arm muscles and achieve the strong, toned look you desire.

Remember, this program is designed for a four-week period, with the option to extend it for an additional month if desired. However, moderation is key to avoid overtraining and maintain a balanced approach to fitness.

So, get ready to push yourself, embrace the challenge, and witness the transformation as you embark on this crafted routine aimed at toning your arms and helping you achieve your desired muscular symmetry. Happy lifting!

References: Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.