March 2

Ultimate Workout Routine For Arms: The Best Exercises For Your Biceps, Triceps

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The two body parts every one is motivated to work is their chest and arms.

Everybody that starts lifting weights wants a bigger chest and arms. 

We had an article on chest workout routine, 

This article will give you an idea of anatomy of arms, best exercises for arms and workout routine for arms. That includes biceps, triceps and forearms.

Let's first look into the anatomy of arms

Biceps anatomy

human anatomy biceps

Your biceps are one among the three muscles in your anterior compartment of the upper arm. Brachialis, coracobrachialis are the other two muscles. 

Your biceps brachii or simply biceps muscles contain two heads that originate from the scapula and insert into the radial bone of the forearm. 

The primary function of biceps brachii is flexion at elbows, supination of the arm.

Brachialis lies beneath the biceps brachii. It originates from the mid-portion of your upper arm and inserts into the radial bone of the forearm.  It is the prime mover in elbow flexion.

During elbow flexion, more than 50% of power is generated by brachialis. 

Triceps anatomy 

human anatomy triceps

Triceps brachii enables extension at your elbows. Your triceps have three muscle heads. The long head originates from the scapula, it is made up of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles.

The medial head originates from the rear surface of the upper arm. It's made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers( type I).

The lateral head originates from the rear surface of the upper arm. It's made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers(type IIb).

The three heads converge into one tendon and insert into the ulna of the forearm. 

Taking into account the mechanical and physiological heterogeneity of the triceps brachii, our findings suggest that each fascicle may be considered an independent muscle with specific functional roles. 

Study 1

Forearms anatomy

human anatomy  forearms

Your forearms contain pronators and supinators and other muscles that carry out extension and flexion of digits and elbows(Brachioradialis muscle does flexion at the elbows). 

The posterior part of your arms contain extensor muscles and the anterior part contains flexors. 

Your forearms position (pronation, supination, neutral) determines the involvement of forearm muscles during flexion at elbows. 

When your arms are pronated, the flexion is carried out by brachialis, brachioradialis, and while biceps brachii has limited involvement.

This study shows that the muscular activity of biceps brachii remains the same irrespective of hand position; the effort of brachioradialis changes with position.  

Muscles fiber type 

Your biceps muscles are fast-twitch dominant by 5% only. They respond well to low and medium reps.

Your triceps muscles are fast-twitch dominant so train them heavy with low reps.4-6 reps

Your brachioradialis is fast-twitch dominant so go heavy and low reps with training them. 4-8 reps 

Your forearms are slow-twitch dominant thus high rep range of 8-10 reps will be best for forearms.

Your arm position determines the involvement of your muscles.

Your biceps muscle works best in supination.

While the neutral and pronated position will bring brachioradialis into work. 

Overhead triceps press is required to work your triceps long heads. 

Workout tips for bigger arms 

Overhead press in triceps 

Your muscles can shorten up to a certain length (nearly 50% of its resting length). So if a muscle is flexed at one joint, it cannot produce force to cause flexion at other joints, it's called active insufficiency.

Your triceps are one of those muscles that cross more than one joint. The triceps act as an extensor at both elbows and your shoulder joint. 

When your arm is extended and to the sides of your body, the triceps long head will be in active insufficiency and cannot produce enough force to extend arms at elbows.

Triceps long head will be in active insufficiency when you do lying triceps press, extension, or dumbbell kickbacks. So the muscle head worked will be medial and lateral heads. 

The overhead press is a must-do workout for the overall development of triceps.  We need to consider this while designing  workout routine for arms.

Preacher or spider curls for targeting Brachialis

The active insufficiency is also seen in biceps brachii as it crosses more than one joint. Its main function is elbow flexion and also is a weak shoulder flexor.

  • When your shoulders are flexed, your biceps brachii enters active insufficiency and cannot produce force for flexing elbows. 
  • When you're doing preacher curls your biceps brachii is in active insufficiency and brachialis will be the prime flexor.

 Eg: Spider curls 

Hand position and muscles heads while doing biceps exercise

  • Supinated grip during elbow flexion works your biceps brachii and brachialis.
  • Neutral grip during elbow flexion works your brachioradialis.
  • Pronated grip during elbow flexion works your brachioradialis. 

Hand position and muscles heads while doing triceps exercise

  • The supinated grip while doing elbow the extension will work your medial triceps head.
  • A neutral grip will work your lateral head during extension at elbows. 

Start building a thicker forearms

If you want to build huge biceps or triceps you have to lift heavy weights. For this, you need a strong forearm.

In every upper arm exercise your wrist flexors and extensors and brachioradialis act as stabilizers. So a thick forearm is necessary to curl or press heavyweights. 

Sets: 3-4 sets. It doesn't include the warmup sets. So 2-3 sets of warmup set before starting your working sets. 

Reps: to train arms you do 4-8 reps. Start with low rep range and increase the reps towards the end of the workout (last exercise). 

Frequency: Frequency is the number of times you train your muscles each week. It's good to train your arms once every week. Your arms act as synergists while you train your chest, shoulder, and back. 

Rest in between sets: 60-90 s rest is best for muscle hypertrophy. Your energy stores will be restored during this time. 

Don't train for the pump:Don't be happy when your muscles are pumped with blood. Get a nice stretch in your arms. This will happen when you do high rep training. 

The muscle pump as a result of high rep training is not enough for your muscle growth. You have to lift heavy weights at low reps to induce muscle growth. 

Progressive overload: Increase the weight lifted if you do your target reps. If your target rep is 6; increase the weight lifted if you have done six reps.

Progressive overload is the key to muscle growth.


There is a good chance of overtraining your arms. Your arms get some work during chest, back and shoulder training. 

At most times, if you are lifting heavy weights your biceps and triceps get its work even if you don’t train them individually. 

Equipment needed for your arms training 

Bonnlo Barbell Olympic Bar, 5 Feet Olympic Weightlifting Bar 28mm Grip 600 lbs...
  • SOLID CHROME STEEL CONSTRUCTION: 5ft Olympic bar at 28mm diameter grip, compatible with 2 inch...
  • UPGRADED ROTATION SLEEVE PROVIDE PERFECT SPIN: This 60" Olympic Barbells is upgraded with brass...
  • PRO-GRIP KNURLING : With a medium depth knurling, the lifting bar has plenty of knurl for your heavy...
Goplus Olympic EZ Curl Bar for Strength Training, 47’’ Solid Steel Barbell Weight...
  • 【Rugged & Durable Structure】Our bar is made of high-quality Q235 steel with cold forging and...
  • 【Knurling & Curve Design】Made to facilitate for easy workout sessions, this workout bar features...
  • 【Sufficient Length & Weight】This bar is 47’’ long, weighs 19lbs, 28mm grip and has a maximum...
Valor Fitness Preacher Curl Bench - Preacher Curl Benches for Bicep Curl Support...
  • A WORKOUT BENCH ADJUSTABLE FOR YOU - Adjust this curl bench to create the best arm curl blaster for...
  • COMFORTABLE CURL POSITION – Feel comfortable while curling big weight in your seated position. The...
  • EXTRA STURDY – Solid steel for a strong and sturdy frame while you rep out curls. Includes Rubber...
Bowflex SelectTech 552 - Two Adjustable Dumbbells
  • Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds; adjusts in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25...
  • Lets you rapidly switch from one exercise to the next
  • Combines 15 sets of weights into one, using a unique dial system
CAP Barbell 45 lb Gray Olympic Weight Plate, Single
  • Construction – Made of solid cast iron with a machined center hole and a gray, baked enamel...
  • Features –The gray baked enamel coating ensures a durable, reliable weight that will last through...
  • Versatile – Weight plates can be used to perform muscle strengthening exercises and endurance...

Let's look at some of the best exercise for bigger arms

How to do Biceps curls with a barbell? 

- exercise for bigger arms

Load the bar with weight plates. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip.

Lift the bar from the rack and keep your arms straight. Keep your chest up and your lower back neutral. 

Take a big breath and raise the weight by flexing at your elbows. 

Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position and exhale. Repeat for the required number of reps. 

barbell curl the best workout routine for arms

Biceps curl with dumbbell

-arms exercise with dumbbells

Grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip( palm facing each other) and it out to your sides. Raise the dumbbells by flexing your biceps. 

While curling, turn the palms so that it faces up. Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position. 

Repeat for the required number of reps.

Tip: This is about the supination during the curls lot of people supinate their arms at the bottom portion of reps.

The supination function of biceps will only work while the elbow is in a flexed position. At other times your supinator muscles take over the work. 

So it's best to turn your arm when it's near midway to a full curl.

You can further increase the tension in biceps if you grab the dumbbells to one end. 

It will cause an imbalance and will exert a force to rotate your arm. So you will need to put in more work to supinate while doing a biceps curl. 

Thus your biceps will get extra stimulus for growth. 

dumbbell curl the best workout routine for arms

Preacher curl

-best exercise for your brachialis

Sit on the preacher bench, place your arms on the pad. Adjust the pad so your armpit rests on the top of the pad. 

Grab the barbell with a shoulder-width grip. Curl the bar towards shoulders. Pause when your forearms are vertical. 

Then slowly lower to the starting position. 

In preacher curl, the primary targeted muscle is brachialis. 

Your biceps is less involved as it will be in active insufficiency in the position (shoulder flexed).

dumbbell preacher curl the best workout routine for arms

Dumbbell Hammer curls

-targets your brachioradialis

Grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip( palms facing each other) and it out to your sides. 

Raise the dumbbells by flexing at your elbows. Don't change the hand position; it must remain in a neutral grip, i.e., facing each other.

In hammer curls, your brachioradialis will act as the elbow flexor while biceps brachii and brachialis will work as a synergist.  

The primary muscle targeted is brachioradialis. 

dumbbell hammer curl the best workout routine for arms

EZ bar reverse curl

Grab the EZ bar with a pronated grip (palms facing down) and keep in front with arms fully extended.

Raise the bar by flexing at elbows. Pause at the top, then lower to the starting position and repeat.

 The primary muscle targeted is brachioradialis. 

barbell reverse curl the best workout routine for arms

Overhead triceps press

-best exercise for hitting the three heads of triceps muscle

To work your triceps long head, you must include overhead work in your triceps routine. 

You can use the EZ bar if available; it will reduce the stress on your wrists and elbows.  Grab the bar on the diagonal section. 

Raise the bar above your head and keep your elbows locked.

Lower the weights by bending at your elbows. Pause at the bottom and return to the starting position by extending at your elbows. 

barbell overhead press the best workout routine for arms

Close grip bench press

-best triceps exercise for size

Lie on the press bench, grab the bar with grip closer than shoulder width. Don't go too narrow as your shoulder and wrist will risk injury during the workout. 

Lift the weight off the rack by straightening your elbows. 

Keep the weight above your shoulders. Lower the weight to your mid-chest until it touches. 

Pause and press towards the starting position. During the movement focus on the triceps and keep your elbows close to your body. 

close grip bench press the best workout routine for arms

Neutral grip cable pushdown

Stand in front of a cable machine and attach the rope to the cable. 

Grab the rope and with your palms facing each other( neutral grip ). 

Push the rope downwards by extending your arms. Keep your elbows close to your body. 

Squeeze your triceps at the bottom then return to the starting position slowly. 

cable push down-the best workout routine for arms

Bench dips

-triceps exercise without equipment

Place a bench behind you. Extend your arms backward and place it on the bench. Keep your feet on another bench in front of you. 

Lock your knees and tighten your core muscles. 

Lower your body by bending at your elbows. Lower it till your upper arms are parallel to the floor. 

Return to the starting position using your triceps and repeat. 

If you can do your target reps easily, add weight plates on your lap to provide added resistance. 

This requires a spotter to place and take the weight off your body. 

bench dips the best workout routine for arms

Workout routine for arms 

Barbell curl / Dumbbell curls 4* sets 4-7 reps

Overhead triceps press 4* sets 4-7 reps 

Preacher curls 3* sets 6-8 reps

Close grip bench press 3* sets 6-8 reps 

Hammer curls 3* sets 4-6 reps

Bench dips 3* sets 4-6 reps


*Does not include warm-up sets, do 2-3 warm-up sets with light weights before doing working sets.

Rest for 60- 90 s between sets, suitable for muscle growth.This gives your muscles enough time to restore the energy stores. 

Do this workout once every week. 

A good workout is not enough for building big arms; you have to get proper nutrition and rest.

Muscle growth happens outside the gym. So take care of your nutrition and get enough sleep.



Image credits: 



biceps, forearm, triceps, Workout routine, workouts

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