Try These 6 Unique Bodybuilding Arm Exercises to Spark New Muscle Growth

Bodybuilding could be a chore, there’s little question about it. Hitting the iron day in, time out, and sticking to a program (to not point out following a meal plan or particular weight loss program) is as a lot of a take a look at of willpower as it’s work ethic.

That drudgery can lengthen to your workouts of selection as properly. Should you’re making an attempt to develop your arms or are making ready on your first bodybuilding present, you’ve in all probability carried out extra dumbbell curls than you’ll be able to depend. 

A bodybuilder working on his biceps with kettlebells.
Credit score: ANRproduction / Shutterstock

Consistency is all properly and good, however in the event you’re bored to tears by your exercises, chances are you’ll not apply as a lot effort as you as soon as did. This implies beneficial properties misplaced and time wasted. If that sounds acquainted, it’s time to change issues up. Check out these six distinctive arm workouts for bodybuilding to reinvigorate your love for the iron recreation. 

Distinctive Arm Workouts for Bodybuilding

Drag Curl 

The run-of-the-mill barbell curl is a bodybuilding staple, however making a small adjustment to your method pays dividends and tax your biceps in a brand new manner. The drag curl requires you to drag your elbows backward to “drag” a barbell up your physique.

[Read More: What You Need to Know About How to Build Muscle]

Movement at each the elbow and shoulder joints will stimulate your biceps in a different way, because the muscle attaches to your scapula. Drag curls are additionally simple to study and handy to carry out; all you want is a barbell and a few area to face. 

Learn how to Do the Drag Curl

  1. Stand upright with a straight or cambered barbell in your arms as in the event you have been about to carry out a typical biceps curl.
  2. Provoke the curl by driving your elbows backward, somewhat than curling the bar out and up.
  3. Pull your elbows again to “drag” the bar up your torso till your forearms are roughly parallel with the bottom.

Coach’s Tip: The important thing right here is to hyperextend, however not elevate, your shoulder. Preserve your shoulders down and away out of your ears in the course of the drag curl.

Units and Reps: Attempt increased repetitions right here since you’ll be able to’t use very a lot weight — go for 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps.

Kettlebell Hammer Curl

Hammer curls are famend for his or her capacity to thicken your arms and forearms. The strategy of the hammer curl, throughout which you bend your arm together with your palms dealing with one another, places your brachialis center-stage. You may double down on this concept and play to the strengths of the hammer curl even additional by holding a kettlebell as an alternative.

If you do kettlebell hammer curls, the vast majority of the resistance is suspended in entrance of your arms, somewhat than above them. This creates an extended second arm and extra torque on the elbow joint. 

Because of this, your brachialis and forearms need to work a lot tougher, even with a lighter weight. What’s extra, the kettlebell hammer curl is a good way to get a free grip exercise in, since half the problem is in holding the load “incorrectly.”

Learn how to Do the Kettlebell Hammer Curl

  1. Stand upright together with your arms down at your sides and a kettlebell in every hand. 
  2. Together with your palms dealing with your midline and your higher arms tucked tightly to your torso, bend your elbows to curve the weights up.
  3. Preserve a straight wrist and curl till your forearm is perpendicular to the ground. Pause for a second on the high.

Coach’s Tip: The kettlebell hammer curl will get progressively tougher the upper you elevate the weights. Begin lighter than you suppose you want right here. 

Units and Reps: Attempt 2 units of 10 to 12 repetitions on this one. 

Zottman Curl

A great biceps workout can do extra than simply add inches to your arms. The Zottman curl is a stellar possibility for all-in-one arm coaching and places a brand new twist — actually, that’s — on a motion chances are you’ll be a bit uninterested in.

[Read More: Everything You Need to Know About How to Increase Strength]

Zottman curls interact your biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis all of sudden. In addition they load a variety of movement you might not be conversant in, since most traditional curls don’t require you to rotate the weights as you progress your arms. 

Learn how to Do the Zottman Curl

  1. Sit with a pair of dumbbells in every hand, palms dealing with ahead, higher arms tucked snugly to your torso.
  2. Carry out a typical dumbbell curl by bending your elbows and drawing the weights upward.
  3. When you attain the highest, rotate your palms and switch the weights over. Then, decrease the dumbbells again down with the backs of your arms dealing with the ceiling.
  4. On the backside, twist once more to return to the beginning place. That’s one rep.

Coach’s Tip: You may twist your wrists on the high whereas the weights are immobile, or dynamically as you’re decreasing them down.

Units and Reps: Seize some gentle dumbbells and go for increased reps. Attempt 3 units of 15 repetitions. 

Overhead Cross-Cable Triceps Extension

It might not be sensible in a busy gymnasium, but when you will get ahold of two cable pulley stations, give this train a attempt. The overhead cross-cable triceps extension supplies you with unparalleled muscular stress and doesn’t require extreme shoulder mobility both.

Cables are a bodybuilder’s greatest pal for his or her comfort and flexibility. Single-arm coaching enables you to handle muscular imbalances. Overhead triceps exercises are important for growing a fully-fledged horseshoe. This train hits all three beats directly.

Learn how to Do the Overhead Cross-Cable Triceps Extension

  1. Seize ahold of the ball fixture of a cable station; one in every hand. Take a step again to drag the cable taut.
  2. Your arms ought to be crossed in entrance of you, holding the opposing-side cable. Raise your arms over your head and twist your physique round, bending your elbows within the course of.
  3. Right here, you ought to be dealing with away from the cable stations together with your proper arm holding the cable that’s pulling left and vice versa. Your higher arms ought to be parallel to the ground.
  4. Lengthen your elbows till your arms are straight. If you’re carried out together with your set, untwist your self fastidiously and return the cables to the station.

Coach’s Tip: The setup is probably the most tough half right here. Take a while to finesse it correctly.

Units and Reps: You gained’t have the ability to elevate closely. Do 2 or 3 units of 12 to fifteen repetitions. 

Cable Cranium Crusher

The skull crusher is likely one of the greatest all-around triceps-builders on the market. Nevertheless, it suffers from the identical problem as any free-weight train — an inconsistent resistance curve. You may sidestep this problem and blast your triceps by heading to a cable station as an alternative.

[Read More: How to Bulk: The Ultimate Guide to Gaining Size]

Working with a cabled bar as an alternative of a free bar will present constant mechanical stress to your triceps from begin to end. You may as well use a rope attachment to alleviate some wrist ache if normal cranium crushers trigger you points. 

Learn how to Do the Cable Cranium Crusher

  1. Align a bench with a cable tree such that the top of the bench is a few foot away from the column.
  2. Repair the cable attachment beneath the top of the bench, however not all the best way on the ground, with a straight or cambered bar.
  3. Seize the bar and straddle the bench, twisting your physique round within the course of and punctiliously mendacity down.
  4. When you’re mendacity on the bench together with your arms straightened vertically, bend your elbows and drop the deal with down in direction of your brow.

Coach’s Tip: You may as well ask a spotter handy you the deal with manually whilst you lie down on the bench.

Units and Reps: Go for 3 units of 8 to 12 reps right here. 

JM Press

Named for famend energy athlete Jm Blakely, this non-standard triceps train makes nice use of the barbell and exploits the downward drive of gravity to your profit. You’re working with the barbell, however the JM press is extra like an upside-down close-grip push-up than anything.

This train makes for an amazing triceps-builder that you simply don’t want a whole lot of weight for. It’s additionally appropriate as a bench press accessory exercise in the event you practice for energy.

Learn how to Do the JM Press

  1. Unrack an empty barbell from a bench press station with a slender, shoulder-width (or nearer) grip.
  2. Decrease it downward slowly by dropping your elbows and intentionally pushing them ahead.
  3. As soon as the barbell is inside a couple of inches of your face, reverse the movement and squeeze your triceps to return it to the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Your forearms ought to be practically parallel to the ground on the backside of the JM press.

Units and Reps: Attempt 3 units of 8 reps to start with on this one. 

Arm Heat-Up for Bodybuilding

Top-of-the-line issues about an arm workout is it doesn’t include a bunch of conditions. You usually don’t must undergo a sturdy warm-up sequence to entry particular ranges of movement; curls and pressdowns are single-joint actions, in spite of everything.

Nevertheless, warm-up can elevate any coaching session. So, to maximise your bodybuilding potential and set your self up for fulfillment, blast via this sequence earlier than starting your subsequent bodybuilding arm workout

Learn how to Prepare Your Arms for Bodybuilding

For the leisure (or aggressive) bodybuilder, arm coaching is an artwork. You may mindlessly cruise via your arm exercises, positive, however making use of extra effort and care — like a sculptor working a stone — will heighten your outcomes. 

Arm Train Choice

There’s no “magic” arm-building train for bodybuilding. Your biceps and triceps each act on the elbow (and shoulder, to a point) joint and are normally isolation strikes. There’s some nuance at play, however your greatest guess is to choose arm workouts that really feel snug and sustainable to carry out.

As an example, chances are you’ll expertise wrist or elbow discomfort whenever you carry out curls with a straight barbell. Within the occasion that choosing dumbbells or a cambered bar alleviates these points, there’s no motive in any respect so that you can follow the straight bar. 

A person warming up their arms before their workout.
Credit score: – Yuri A / Shutterstock

[Read More: 5 At-Home Workouts for Strength, Muscle Growth, Power, and More]

Nevertheless, there are some caveats. Each the biceps and triceps muscle tissues cross your shoulder joint. As such, the place of your higher arm relative to your torso will impression which elements of these muscle tissues obtain probably the most stimulation. It’s best to attempt to embrace a minimum of one curl train together with your arm behind your torso and one triceps extension together with your arm above your head for optimum progress. 

Arm Coaching Units and Reps

You shouldn’t get too hooked on the pump throughout your arm exercises, regardless of how good it feels to blow your arms up and stretch your shirt sleeves. Excessive-repetition coaching has its place, however lifting too gentle could rob you of the stimulation it’s good to elicit muscle hypertrophy

  • For Free Weight Curls or Extensions: Keep on with 3 to 4 units of 6 to eight repetitions.
  • When Utilizing Cables of Machines: Up your reps a bit and go for two to three units of 8 to fifteen repetitions. 

The character of the train you’re performing will largely impression your rep vary and depth. Intricate workouts with complicated setups, like a single-armed Bayesian cable curl (an amazing choice for the lengthy head of your biceps), aren’t suited to heavy units of 5 or 6 reps because the method naturally limits loading potential. 

Arm Coaching Suggestions for Bodybuilding

Don’t get it twisted: Having the fitting workouts in-hand within the first place will produce the vast majority of your arm coaching outcomes. Nevertheless, there are a couple of methods you’ll be able to amplify your beneficial properties. Stick to those ideas of correct arm coaching 

Discover the Angle

Small changes to your posture can dramatically enhance how a biceps or triceps train feels. Each athlete has a novel anatomical construction; your muscle tissues don’t originate and insert in the very same locations as, say, your spotter’s. 

As such, you need to take time to fiddle together with your method to optimize your mind-muscle connection. Analysis exhibits that consciously specializing in contracting a muscle throughout coaching could assist it develop. (1)

Offered, in fact, that you simply nonetheless adhere to the primary ideas of no matter motion you’re performing.

Do Extra With Much less

Your arms contribute considerably to the general look of your physique. That stated, your biceps and triceps are nonetheless comparatively small when it comes to cross-sectional space. What’s extra, you additionally stimulate them to a point throughout most pulling and pushing actions (suppose the barbell row or overhead press).

Due to this fact, you will get by with much less training volume than you may initially suppose — so long as you retain your training intensity high. Your biceps, as an example, are literally composed of largely type-II, fast-twitch fibers, which reply properly to heavier lifting on common. (2)

[Read More: Try These Dumbbell Shoulder Workouts to Build Strength, Size, or Get Flexible]

In case your arms are a weak level in your physique, by all means, hammer them a bit greater than different muscle teams. However usually talking, someplace between eight and 15 weekly units on your biceps and triceps is greater than sufficient to spark progress. (3)

Combine Up Your Gear

Energy athletes like powerlifters or weightlifters are sworn to the barbell. As a bodybuilder, you haven’t any such dedication. When you choose your arm workouts for bodybuilding, make sure that you’re incorporating all kinds of kit.

Free-weight arm workouts just like the barbell curl or JM press allow you to elevate closely; do them in the beginning of your session. As you tire out, go for cable and machine actions that present extra exterior stability. These instruments additionally afford you extra distinctive train choices since they aren’t certain by the downward drive of gravity. 

Advantages of Coaching Your Arms

Should you practice your arms with the intent of muscle progress, you’ll be able to anticipate, properly…larger arms. On the one hand; bought. However the advantages of arm coaching, even solely for bodybuilding, don’t finish there. 

Greater Arms

Your arms are as trainable as some other muscle group and cling to the ideas of muscular hypertrophy. Because the saying goes: “Should you construct it, they are going to come.”

There’s a vein of thought in weight room tradition that implies that you simply don’t want to carry out isolation workouts to develop your arms. You might have heard that heavy bench presses, pull-ups, and different compound exercises do the trick.

 A bodybuilder working on his arms on a cable machine.
Credit score: Nikolas_jkd / Shutterstock

[Read More: Get Freakishly Strong With the 5×5 Workout Program]

There’s some fact to this. Your biceps and triceps play essential — however secondary — roles throughout upper-body compound workouts, however they’re by no means the star of the present. Many of the mechanical stress can be utilized to the prime movers of these workouts. If centered stimulation is the easiest way to ensure progress (spoiler, it’s), it’s good to do your arm-specific workouts.

A Balanced, Proportioned Physique

Muscular, outlined arms are ubiquitously important to bodybuilding, it doesn’t matter what division you’re pursuing or how broad your gym-related targets are. From the Males’s Open, which homes the most important bodybuilders on this planet, to ladies’s Bikini, which covets a extra slender look, you’d be hard-pressed to search out an athlete who doesn’t practice their arms instantly in some capability.

Underdeveloped or unremarkable arms stick out like a sore thumb. Neglecting your biceps and triceps could impression the visible “circulate” of your physique or trigger your torso to seem bigger than you’d like. Should you prioritize aesthetics above all, you’d higher be coaching your arms.

Stronger Pulls and Presses

Bodybuilders don’t care an excessive amount of for energy growth, however that’s no motive to slack off on heavy coaching. In spite of everything, the whole ethos of powerbuilding revolves round pushing your energy potential and going for a sick pump afterward.

Direct arm coaching will strengthen your biceps and triceps. These muscle tissues play essential roles in nearly each single upper-body exercise you do. In case your triceps are missing, you’ll discover it tough to hit a brand new 1-rep max on the bench press, and the identical holds true for rowing a heavy barbell or dumbbell. 

Anatomy of the Arms

You employ your biceps to curve and your triceps to press. Is that the top of the story? Nicely, form of. Your arm musculature might not be as complicated because the tissues round your hip or shoulder, however there’s nonetheless nuance beneath the hood that it’s good to take note of if you wish to maximize your muscle gain


Your biceps brachii are the quintessential mirror muscle. Situated on the anterior floor (that’s the entrance) of your higher arm, your biceps join throughout the elbow and shoulder joints. You’ve in all probability been flexing your biceps because you have been little and are not any stranger to creating them pop.

Be aware, although, that the biceps brachii crosses two joints. Which means that the angle and place of these joints will impression the leverage and activation of your biceps. As you rotate your wrist, your biceps are pulled taut; that’s why supinated, palms-up curls or curls together with your arm behind your physique create a lot stress.

Brachialis and Forearms

The brachialis lies beneath your biceps and is definitely the principal elbow flexor. As your brachialis solely crosses your elbow, you’ll be able to’t bias it any extra (or much less) by altering your shoulder place.

A person in a blue sports bra working out using dumbbells.
Credit score: Alfonso Soler / Shutterstock

[Read More: How to Do the Dumbbell Shoulder Press]

Nevertheless, you’ll be able to interact your brachialis (and the musculature in your forearms) by performing curls with a impartial, palms-inward grip. Doing so places a little bit of slack in your biceps and permits your brachialis to shine. 


Your three-headed (therefore, tri-ceps) triceps brachii muscle lies on the again of your higher arm and performs elbow extension. When your biceps work to curve your elbow up, your triceps lengthen and chill out, and vice-versa. 

Any train that entails straightening your arm will interact your triceps, together with all method of urgent workouts along with triceps-specific strikes just like the cranium crusher. 

Notably, one head of your triceps, the lengthy head, crosses the shoulder joint and attaches to your scapula. As such, lifting your arm above your head will bias this part of the muscle. In order for you full, three-dimensional triceps growth, it’s good to do a minimum of one train together with your shoulder in a flexed place. Some knowledge even exhibits that overhead triceps coaching is simpler at constructing muscle than workouts just like the triceps pressdown. (4)

Extra Coaching Content material

A skin-tearing arm pump places a particular spring in your step. The primary time you skilled it, you in all probability did cartwheels leaving the gymnasium. Nevertheless, there are solely so some ways to pores and skin a cat and so many curls you are able to do earlier than issues turn into a bit uninteresting.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply your arm coaching must be a chore. Get a bit artistic together with your train choice with these distinctive bodybuilding arm workouts to breathe new life into your coaching classes — and reap some new beneficial properties within the course of. 

Need extra coaching content material like this? Attempt a few of these associated articles from BarBend:


  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., Vigotsky, A., Contreras, B., Golden, S., Alto, A., Larson, R., Winkelman, N., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differential results of attentional focus methods throughout long-term resistance coaching. European journal of sport science, 18(5), 705–712. 
  2. Klein, C. S., Marsh, G. D., Petrella, R. J., & Rice, C. L. (2003). Muscle fiber quantity within the biceps brachii muscle of younger and outdated males. Muscle & nerve, 28(1), 62–68. 
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance coaching quantity and will increase in muscle mass: A scientific overview and meta-analysis. Journal of sports activities sciences, 35(11), 1073–1082. 
  4. Maeo, S., Wu, Y., Huang, M., Sakurai, H., Kusagawa, Y., Sugiyama, T., Kanehisa, H., & Isaka, T. (2022). Triceps brachii hypertrophy is considerably better after elbow extension coaching carried out within the overhead versus impartial arm place. European journal of sport science, 1–11. Advance on-line publication.

Featured Picture: Nikolas_jkd / Shutterstock

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