What is the Best Arms Day Workout Routine?


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Your Questions
Your Questions

I get plenty of questions in various comments throughout the website, but I also get comments and questions via the Project Swole Contact Form.

Generally I address those questions through e-mail, but often I do not have the time to reply to each and every question personally.

The category, Your Health Questions is a more proactive approach to answering your questions so that everyone can benefit from the Q & A.

Scott wrote:

“First off, I would like to say your site is great. I’ve learned a lot reading your articles.

I just had one question: when you say not to have an ‘arms day’, should I just include a few biceps and triceps exercises everyday? And how many different exercises of each should I do?”


Response:

First off, thank you for the kind words. I’m glad some of my ramblings help others get swole.

Furthermore, there has always been conflict in the debate about the need for an ‘arms day’. This is usually the favorite workout of the week for teenagers and newbies.

Fortunately, the biceps need very little work to grow properly if you are using the best compound exercises to train the rest of your body. The triceps are a little different in that they comprise twice as much muscle mass as biceps, and can require additional work depending on your goals.

Arnold Biceps
Arnold’s Arms

Compound exercises that also work the triceps:

  • Bench press – flat, decline, close grip, incline
  • Board press – more boards = more triceps isolation
  • Floor press
  • Military press (to a lesser extent)

Compound exercises that also work the biceps:

Fact: your triceps make up 2/3 of your arm muscle and the biceps fill in the gaps, which inherently means the bis need even less work than the tris. I find that half of the time I end up skipping biceps in order to do something that I don’t normally do, like shrugs or pullovers or glute ham raises.

Full Body Training

If you are using full body training, lifting 3 times a week, you should probably train triceps 3 times and biceps 1-2 times. As long as you are training your back properly, you won’t need to train your biceps 3 times a week, or have a dedicated arms day.

If you are prioritizing your triceps training, either to increase your bench or to increase the size of your arms, you could substitute close grip bench or board press for your chest exercise on one of the three days, and include direct triceps work later in that workout.

Full Body Split

If you are using a full body split, training a different muscle group each day for 4-5 workouts a week, you should train triceps on chest day and biceps on back day if you are not prioritizing triceps training.

If you are prioritizing triceps training you could probably train triceps on back day and on chest day in order to hit them twice in one week. You could also replace one chest exercise with a big triceps exercise, on chest day.

The Best Arms Day Workout Routine

The only way I could really see integrating an arms day, is if you plan to use compound exercises to train the arms.

One possible ‘arms day’ routine:

  1. Close grip bench press – 3 sets x 5 reps
  2. Chin ups – 3 sets x 7 reps
  3. Dips leaning forward – 2 sets x 10 reps
  4. Supinated (underhand grip) barbell rows – 2 sets x 5 reps
  5. Diamond push ups – 2 sets x as many as possible
  6. Hammer curls – 2 sets x 7 reps

I might be grasping for straws here, but this is basically the only kind of ‘arms day’ workout that makes sense to me, but it is also a back and chest workout at the same time. Making an ‘arms day’ workout full of curls and triceps extensions is futile in my opinion.

Best of luck!

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23 Responses to “What is the Best Arms Day Workout Routine?”

  1. Devin says:

    Not to mention the people who do endless sets of wrist curls. I remember when I use to have arm days @_@

  2. Brett G says:

    Compound exercises confused me at first. Why were my triceps burning on chest day and my biceps/forearms burning with garden hose veins on back day. This is exactly true.

    The best point made is that with all the exercises/compounds in a fullbody split, the biceps (being as small as they are) don’t even need targeting. However, at the end of a workout if I know they are recovered sufficiently, I will my swole on with some hammers (1 set to target forearms, 1 set regular)

    Besides, who can’t feel the bicep pump with pullups and pushups ;)

  3. Josh T. says:

    HAHAHA!!! me and some friends at work were talking about this very issue today (when we should have been working). we all decided the three most common guido, newbie, and stop doing stuff you see on tv exercises are:

    1. Bicep Curls
    2. Lateral Side Raises for shoulders
    3. Forearm curls

    :) you just want to walk up to someone on the gym when you see them doing this and say “what exactly are you trying to accomplish by doing this exercise?” and then show them what they could be doing to not only gain significant strength but also build that muscle as well.

    • Jose says:

      Hello,

      I don’t necessarily agree. I do agree with Todd below that isolation shouldn’t be left out, but *I think* the point of the entry above is that an entire isolation day of arms training is inefficient. I have had good results with isolation exercises on delts, etc. I think it’s problematic if you emphatically train single muscles vs groups.

  4. Alex says:

    Hey Steve,
    Good response as usual. I have to say that I agree about the lack of need for an ‘arms’ day. I see plenty of guys in my gym who train 5, 6, or 7 sets of arms in one session, but have weak, skinny backs and legs like toothpicks. I agree that compound exercises will give you a greater increase in arm mass. I reckon chin ups, rows, bench presses and dips are just as good. Then just throw an isolated tricep or bicep set into your routine to define a particular ‘head’ of muscle. I love 21′s as a stimulus – ooh they burn!
    In saying that, check out Electromyographic studies (google that) as these are a series of tests designed to show how muscles respond to various types of training. Find one or two exercises for each area of interest and throw them into a routine consisting mainly of compound exercises and you’ll see better results.
    Final point to remember – different things work differently for different people. Choose a routine in line with your goals and stick with it for 2 months. If it doesn’t work for you just change it up and try something else.
    Here is a link to an excellent article about best exercises as suggest by EMG tests (if you’ll allow me to leave a link to a website other than your own, Steve?)

    http://www.superiormuscle.com/forums/supplements/18964-25-best-lifts-mass-according-md

  5. Todd says:

    Compound exercise should be the core of any program. Completely ignoring curls, or any isolation exercise is a bad idea. A well planned program will include both movements.

  6. martin says:

    i im trying to build my arms up i not sure what program to use and what weight to use do i use heavy weights and less reps or lighter weights and more reps thanks

  7. martin says:

    hi im still not sure what weight to use

  8. Steve says:

    martin: Take a weight you can do for 10 reps and complete 3, 10 rep sets. Do that for a month. Next month use heavier weight for 3, 5 rep sets. Repeat. Also, train your whole body if you want your arms to grow. Direct biceps training is not worth very much at all. To get your arms to grow, hit your triceps, chest, and back really hard, but also do not neglect lower body training or your upper body training will shortly plateau.

  9. martin says:

    ok thanks for the advise ill give it a go ill let you know in a month how im getting on cheers

  10. martin says:

    hi should i take tablets or drink some sort of drink to help me bulk up if so what do i need to take thanks

  11. martin says:

    ok thanks ill try them

  12. Arshad says:

    I’m 15 years old and 1m 55cm. I want to get a body like Taylor Lautner. Is this the right age and height for me to do so?

  13. Fred says:

    i remember when i used to do arms and that would be it

  14. Kyle says:

    What a bunch of horse crap! When it comes to weight lifting, the internet has really become polluted with lots of BS like this article and most of your comments. Fact is there is a difference between training for strength numbers and training for muscle mass/defenition. Lots of folks at my gym train like you say with no arm days. Some of them lift impressive weights but they have no shape! Just a bunch of fat powerlifters!

    Yes I do all the coumpounds with free weights and use full range of motion, squats, deadlifts, bench press…etc
    However I also do alot of isolations and guess what isolations are important in bodybuilding. If you are training for strength numbers, fine do coumpounds only. But when training to add muscle mass,isolations are needed. Nothing makes your arms grow like an arms day!

    So much bullshit on the internet. My brother iniated me to training a couple years ago and he and his crew all went from skinny to swole and guess what, they always use bodypart splits that include arm days. Fact is theres a difference between pure strength training and bodybuilding. To get swole arms, you need to hit your arms directly!

    I usually do chest/shoulders on mondays and back on tuesdays. Wednesday off and thursday legs before finishing my week with ARMS on friday. So arms are worked as secondary muscles on mon-tues and then fully worked on friday. This works and is a proven method. And yeah thats every muscle getting hit only once directly every 7 days. INB4 one of you clowns claims that muscles degenerate if you dont hit them 2-3 times a week. Horse crap!

    Just like cross-fit, it seems there’s a trend on the internet that claims that you have to hit each muscle directly 2-3 times a week and that the good old bodypart splits are useless. Nothing has ever been further from the truth. Ive switched to many different routines and always end up coming back to the one that really works and that is the 4-5 day bodypart split that includes an ARMS day.

    Bottom line is nobody cares how much you lift. Just focus on using full range of motion and feeling the muscles pull/push the weight. Eat plenty and sleep enough and you will grow.
    And yes, as a true ectomorph I can testify that working out more than 4-5 times a week is too much for ectos. Before I startd lifting I weighed 150 pounds at 6’1′. I now weigh 190 pounds and have low bodyfat. U mad? Yeah u mad!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the feedback Kyle. You’re right, many bodybuilders use an arm day. It works for bodybuilding, and it also work if you don’t train your biceps with 5 sets of 6 different exercises. Arm day has to be used intelligently by blowing up your triceps and not over-training your biceps. Problem is that so many beginners think arm day means training your biceps for an hour and a half, and when you are just starting out with weightlifting, it makes more sense to focus strictly on compound movements than too much on isolation. Build a base, then sculpt it. That’s my real issue with arm day.

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