Top 6 Arm Training Mistakes

Want big arms? Want lean, shredded arms? Then don’t make any of these arm training mistakes. Here are 6 great arm training tips for bodybuilders, fitness athletes, sports athletes, and newbies alike. Forget the myths, stop the mistakes, and train your arms proper!

Arm Training Mistakes

The Top 6 Arm Training Mistakes

  1. Thinking Biceps are More Important Than Triceps

    Sorry to break the news to you, but your triceps make up two thirds of your upper arm mass. Most new weightlifters focus on endless sets of curls to build their arms, but this is one of the most damaging uneducated myths of an aspiring bodybuilder’s early career. True, you want to build your biceps to a peak, with full, dense muscle bellies. But will really make your arms the size of watermelons, are massive triceps. Focus on building your triceps with heavy compound exercises like close grip bench press and dips. Only then will you truly be able to build 20 inch guns.

  2. Lack of Focus on the Contraction

    This is a major problem people have with arm training. Unfortunately, most people go in to train arms with specific exercises in mind, and just go through and bang it out as heavy as possible. Most people aren’t concentrating on a good connection with the muscles, and flexing the biceps, especially, during exercises. This problem isn’t noticed as much with triceps, but especially with bicep training, many bodybuilders end up using their back and front deltoids much more than their biceps during exercises.

    Here are some solutions:

    • Perform exercises where you aren’t able to engage your supporting muscles to build a good connection with your targeted muscles.
    • When training biceps, on something such as barbell curls, perform them against a wall or in a manner that prevents engagement of other muscles.
    • Use the best Arnold Schwarzenegger arm training tip ever: “Envision your biceps filling the room, picture them as big as mountains.” Easy for him to say, right?
  3. Avoiding Compound Exercises

    Quite often in commercial gyms, you’ll witness the bros going through their routines for arms, and they will mainly be doing set upon set of curls, or some fancy machine exercise. This is a big mistake. Your arms, similar to other muscles, respond well to properly targeted, heavy training. It’s important that you include at least two compound exercises into every arm workout. Isolation is great, but compounds build slabs of muscle. Close-grip bench presses, barbell curls, weighted dips on a bench or the parallel bars, and more are all great exercises to make a staple in your arm training routine.

  4. Overtraining

    We’re going to be honest here. Everyone wants huge arms. It’s understandable that you’re training your arms as hard as possible, and you probably assume that this will make your arms grow into gargantuan monster-sized pythons. Wrong. Your arms, quite frankly, are a very, very small muscle, and don’t need to be stimulated to the extent that your back, chest, or legs do. Practice simplicity in your arm training, and you’ll probably see that your arm measurements are increasing on the tape.

  5. Always Working Arms with Another Muscle

    Arms aren’t the largest muscle and, thus, don’t necessarily require a large amount of volume in order to stimulate them properly. However, it isn’t a bad idea to occasionally incorporate an arms day into your training regimen. There’s also a couple positive things of training arms on their own day: first, you will be rested and therefore poundages will be great, and second, you are able to stimulate the blood flow of training them together to build a good pump. A good pump is always good for stimulating growth hormone and forcing growth.

  6. Not Pre-Exhausting

    This isn’t always necessary, but variety is a good thing. Sometimes, it’s definitely a good idea to start with an isolation exercise before ending with a compound exercise while training arms. It helps you to really feel your arm muscles being activated as they’re already somewhat pumped, and this will help push your arm muscles into a new dimension by taking them to near failure. Generally, on compound exercises, your stronger muscles like your chest, back, or delts will take over and prevent your arms from growing. This strategy is used to avoid that problem.


  • Since they comprise 2/3 of your arm mass, spend more time training your triceps than your biceps.
  • Focus, especially while training biceps, on feeling the muscle working. Visualize your arms as big as mountains.
  • Be sure to include compound exercises in your routine.
  • Make sure to rest for 48 hours before training your arms again. They only grow when they rest.
  • Make sure you use different combinations of volume for your arms; usually adding them in with another muscle is good, but an arms day is good on occasion.
  • Pre-exhausting your biceps once in a while allows you to engage them more on compound exercises.
  • Read: The Top 5 Best Triceps Exercises
  • Read: The Top 5 Best Biceps Exercises

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7 Responses to “Top 6 Arm Training Mistakes”

  1. Hey Steve. Above you say to train your arms occasionally on their own separate day, but I remember reading your site a year or so back and you said never make a day where you strictly do just arms. What changed?

    • I pretty much hate ‘Arms Day’. I still don’t promote it. If someone is obsessed with including an arms day, or if a bodybuilder has a glaring deficiency somewhere on their arms, then I guess I could advocate an arms day for a limited amount of time. If anything, I would pair shoulders, tris, bis, and abs on the same day. I actually used to do that myself, with great results.

  2. As a beginner, it’s often difficult to get into weight training and working out. Most beginners (including me when I was a beginner) don’t want to approach the big guys and ask them questions about bicep workouts and what they’re doing.

  3. Totally agree about not overtraining—one of the most important things you can watch out for while training.

  4. Weighted close-grip pull-ups are the king of all bicep exercises in my opinion. As for triceps, like you mentioned, close-grip bench presses cannot be beat.

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