Strong arms contribute to functional strength, making daily activities and workouts like weightlifting and pushing objects easier and more efficient. Also, it is just cool to have jacked arms!
Strong arms and a well-developed upper body also contribute to better joint stability and reduce the risk of injuries, improving your fitness performance.
But how do you make arm muscles, including the biceps, triceps, and shoulder, stronger and bigger?
From fundamental movements to advanced techniques, check out a variety of exercises that will bulk every area of your arm up.
Muscles That Make Up Arms
Arms have three sections: the front (anterior), back (posterior), and shoulder, which all need training. The front section contains the biceps, coracobrachialis, and brachialis muscles.
The biceps have two heads and are responsible for flexing the elbow joint, supinating the forearm, and assisting in shoulder flexion. It plays a role in activities that involve concentric and eccentric motions, such as lifting and lowering objects, curling a weight, or bringing a hand to the shoulder.
In the back section of the arm, there are triceps muscles with three heads. The triceps are responsible for extending the elbow joint and shoulder extension.
In the shoulder, a deltoid muscle is located on the top and rotator cuff, consisting of four small muscles: the infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor, and the supraspinatus at the backside of the shoulder.
The primary function of the lateral deltoid is shoulder abduction, which is lifting the arm away from the body to the side, as in the case of lateral raises.
The anterior deltoid assists in shoulder flexion, which involves raising the arm forward and upward, common in activities like reaching forward or lifting weights in front of you.
The rotator cuff is critical for maintaining the stability of the shoulder joint, especially during activities that involve overhead movements and rotational actions. It also balances mobility and stability, preventing excessive translation or dislocation of the humerus during arm movements.
The muscles mentioned above work together to perform a wide range of workouts that involve pulling, swinging, reaching, or pushing.
Strengthening and conditioning these muscles are essential for functional arm strength and upper-body performance.
Also, by training all the arm muscles, you’ll increase the range of motion, which will help prevent injury.
9 Effective Triceps, Biceps, and Shoulders Muscles Workout
1. Barbell Biceps Curls
Barbell bicep curls are a classic and effective exercise for targeting the biceps. With barbell curls, you can load the bar with additional weight to make the exercise more challenging.
How to Perform Barbell Bicep Curls
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a barbell with an underhand grip (palms facing up) and let the barbell hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Keep your upper arms close to your sides and your elbows fully extended.
- Brace your core as you lift the barbell towards your chest. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position with controlled movement. Perform the desired number of repetitions.
2. Hammer Curls
Hammer curls are a variation of bicep curls that target both the biceps and the brachialis muscle. The unique grip used in hammer curls, where the palms face inward, helps engage different arm parts.
How to Do Hammer Curls
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your arms hanging down at your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders With your palms facing your body (neutral grip) and elbows close to your body.
- Squeeze your biceps and brachialis at the top of the movement and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with controlled movement.
- Repeat the desired number of repetitions.
3. Preacher Curl
Preacher curl is an exercise that specifically targets the brachialis and biceps brachii muscles. This exercise uses a preacher bench, which supports your upper arms, isolates the biceps, and minimizes cheating through body momentum.
How to Do Preacher Curl
- Sit on a preacher bench with your upper arm and chest resting comfortably on the angled pad.
- With an underhand grip (palms facing up and arms fully extended, flex your elbows to bring the weight toward your shoulders. Ensure that your wrists are straight and the weight is close to your body.
- Squeeze your biceps at the movement’s top and slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, adjusting the weight based on your fitness level and goals.
4. Plate Pinch
This underrated exercise is excellent for isolating flexors and extensors at the wrist. These are the muscles that are engaged when forming a pinch.
Let this workout come at the end of your activities so that you don’t have a weak and compromised grip for your workout.
How to Perform the Plate Pinch
- Use two evenly-weighted plates. Initially, use 5 to 15-pound plates as you work your way up
- Hold a place with each hand and stand upright. Maintain your grip for as long as possible or for 20 to 30 seconds
- Pause briefly and repeat to the desired number of reps.
One mistake to avoid is dropping the plate as you fatigue. The plate will likely smack your toes, leading to injuries that could’ve been avoided. Instead, bend your knees and put the plates gently on the floor.
5. Overhead Triceps Extension
The overhead triceps extension is an effective isolation exercise that strengthens and tones the triceps–the muscles on the back of the upper arm. You can perform it using various equipment, such as a dumbbell, barbell, or cable machine.
How to perform Overhead Tricep Extension
- Sit on a bench with your back straight and your core engaged.
- Using an overhand grip, hold a dumbbell in both hands and lift it overhead. Keep your upper arms close to your ears, ensuring your elbows are pointing straight up.
- Bend your elbows to point straight to the ceiling to lower the dumbbell behind your head. Keep your upper arms stationary throughout this phase; only your forearms should move.
- Once your forearms reach a 90-degree angle or slightly lower, reverse the movement by extending your elbows and bringing the dumbbell back to the starting position.
6. Triceps or Bench Dips
Triceps or Bench dips are a bodyweight exercise that targets the triceps, shoulders, and chest. Bench dip is similar to triceps dips; the difference is bench dip is done on a bench while triceps can be performed using parallel bars, dip stations, or sturdy horizontal surfaces like the edges of parallel bars.
How to Do Bench / Tricep Dips
- Place a sturdy bench or table behind you.
- Sit on the bench facing away from it, with your hands on the edge, shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower. Your fingers should point forward, and your palms should be firmly against the surface.
- Move your feet forward a few steps, extending your legs before you to form 90 degrees angle.
- Slide off the bench, leaving your hands on the bench and your heel on the ground for support.
- Lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the ground or slightly below.
- Push through your palms to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
7. Skull Crusher
Skull crusher, also known as lying triceps extension, targets the long and the lateral heads of triceps muscles, helping to develop overall triceps strength and size.
How to Do Skull Crusher
- To perform the workout, lie on a bench or floor facing up with your legs firmly on the floor bent at the knees. Hold a pair of dumbbells and lift the weight towards the forehead by bending your elbow while keeping your upper arm stationary. At this point, you should feel a deep stretch in your triceps.
- Without moving your elbow, reverse the movement and extend your arms to the starting position, fully contracting your triceps. Repeat.
8. Cable Tricep Pushdown
Cable triceps, also known as triceps pushdown, is a great isolation workout, targeting all three heads of the triceps, especially the lateral and medial heads. Like many other workouts, cable push-down has several variations, such as cable rope push-down, cable straight bar push-down, and cable V bar push-down.
How to Do Cable Tricep Pushdown
- Begin by standing and facing a cable machine. Hold a straight bar or rope attachment, depending on what the machine has, with an overhand grip and hand shoulder width apart. Adjust the robe or the bar to your chest level—the cable is slightly above your head.
- Brace your abdominals, keep your elbows close to your sides, feet slightly apart, and your upper arms stationary throughout the movement.
- Push down the bar or rope by fully extending your arms, but not in a locked position. Keep your elbows close to your torso and upper arms stationary, and bend your knees to the pushdown. As you push, keep your back straight. Exhale and slowly return the bar or rope to the starting position, allowing your elbows to bend while keeping tension in your triceps.
9. Behind The Back Barbell Wrist Curls
This exercise will help you build thick forearms and thin wrists. Many people rely on it to build forearm strength effectively, especially wrist flexors.
While there are slight variations, the same concept cuts across. Start light while you build endurance toward a higher rep count.
How to Do Behind The Back Barbell Wrist Curls
- Set up the barbell ensemble and position it knee-high on a rack. Stand facing away from it, bend and grab it with an underhand shoulder-width grip.
- Hinge upwards and let the bar rest on your fingers. Afterward, flex and extend your wrists. That’s one rep, so repeat to your targeted number of reps.
Incorporating a well-rounded approach to arm training, including exercises targeting both biceps and triceps, can help you reap these benefits and improve overall physical well-being.
Incorporate the exercises mentioned above into your training regimen, focus on proper form, and watch as your arms transform into robust, sculpted pillars of strength.