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Expanding Bi's and Crushing Tri's

Most guys dream of big, 20 inch arms when they first start weight training. I probably over emphasized arms and chest when I first started. My genetics favored bigger arms—as my other muscle groups grew, my arms did as well. In fact, they grew even slightly faster. My arms, being a stronger body part, would take over my compound lifts. I developed big triceps from bench press and big biceps from rows. While this was great, I needed the chest and back to catch up. You should analyze your physique and decide if you need to dedicate an entire day to training arms. If your arms are lagging compared to other muscles, then, yes, have an arm day. If they are balanced with your body, I would add them in after training back and chest. If your arms are strong points, add more volume to your back and chest movements and limit direct arm work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSOxpngx3ig


Now for those of you who need to really bring up arms, this workout is for you. Arm training can be done in a higher rep range than usual because arms are stimulated with heavy loads during pushing and pulling movements. This can produce high metabolic stress, which is great stimulus for hypertrophy. Training arms in the higher rep range will also save your elbows for the future. You will pay the price some day for heavy skull crushers. I rotate bicep and tricep work to pump the arm as much as possible, plus it feels good on the elbow joint when blood is pumped evenly on both sides of the arm. This arm workout trains the arm in different elbow positions to vary tension in the muscles’ range of motion; this fully trains each head of the bicep and tricep. Let’s get started.

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The Arm Workout

*Warm up sets are not included in descriptions, take as many warm up sets as needed. Pyramid up in weight.

*All listed sets are taken to or near failure, consider safety when training to failure.

** Rest Pause Set: Select a weight that you can use to reach a failure point. Then rest 20 seconds, then perform another set to failure. Rest another 20 seconds and perform a final set to failure. Add up your total reps and try to beat it next time.

Super Set: Rope push down into cable curl with EZ bar. 3 Straight sets of each exercise. Set 1 @ 15-20 reps total. Set 2 @ 15-20 reps total. Set 3 @ 15-20 reps total.

  • On rope push down, lock the elbow in place as they should only be a pivot point. If the elbows move upward and back down, your back is initiating the movement. When pushing down the rope, spread it apart at the same time. Perform a slight pause with the elbows locked, this will ensure you are using the triceps to move the weight. Control the weight back to the start position.

  • On the cable curl start with the body upright and the shoulders pulled back. If you hunch over, this will limit the bicep’s range of motion. Just like the push downs, keep the elbow as a pivot point locked against your side. Perform a slight pause at peak contraction before lowering the weight back down.

  • Warm up to a work set of 15-20 reps with a weight that will fail within that rep range. You will ideally hit close to the 20 reps mark on the first set, with the reps inevitably dropping on each subsequent set.


Skull Crusher on Incline Bench with Thompson Fat Bells: Rest Pause** Set 1 @ 12-15 reps. Rest Pause** Set 2 @ 12-15 reps.

  • Set the incline bench to 45 degrees. Thompson Fat Bells are great for this exercise since they are uniform around the hand and don’t stress the wrist or elbow like a barbell. If Fat Bells are unavailable, use dumbbells.

  • Keep the elbows fixed and don’t allow swinging. Control the eccentric phase with a slight pause at the bottom before pressing up the Fat Bells.

  • Perform two rest pause sets as described above. Once your form breaks when trying to lift the weight, you’ve reached failure and the lift is over. Drop weight on the second set to stay within the 12-15 rep range.


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Incline Bench Thompson Fat Bells Curl: Rest Pause** Set 1 @ 12-15 reps. Rest Pause** Set 2 @ 12-15 reps.

  • Set the incline bench between 60-70 degrees. The elbow will be fixed and do not allow it to travel upward as this will bring in the deltoids for assistance. Allow a slight pause at the top of the lift and control the weight downward. If Fat Bells are not available, use dumbbells.

  • Perform two rest pause sets as described above. Once your form breaks when trying to lift the weight, you’ve reached failure and the lift is over. Drop weight on the second set to stay within the 12-15 rep range.


Dip Machine: Set 1 @ 15-20 reps. Then perform a double drop set, aiming to hit 10 reps on each drop. Repeat the same weight and double drop set for Set 2.

  • To set up on the dip machine, make sure the seat is low enough so a full range of motion is possible. Do not lean forward and keep your back pressed against the support pad. Leaning forward will bring more chest into play.

  • Keep your hands out in front of your body. Normally your wrist will be directly under the elbow, but by keep it out in front, the triceps will get worked more.


Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl: Set 1 @ 15-20 reps. Then perform a double drop set, aiming to hit 10 reps on each drop. Repeat the same weight and double drop set for Set 2.

  • To set up, keep the arm support high enough so the arm pit is on the pad and the entire arm sits flat.

  • Bring the dumbbell down until the arm almost straightens, then curl up. If you were to look straight down the arm, the shoulder, elbow, and wrist should all be in one straight line.


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That wraps up my arm day. Six exercises are more than enough to stimulate some good growth. If you decide that you need an arm day, keep this workout in your plan once per week. Try to beat your weight and reps each week. If a lift stalls, rotate it out for another exercise. Now, go grow your 20 inch arms.

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