Building Bigger Arms

How to get those Popeye arms?

Genetics play a huge part in how your arms progress: muscle to tendon ratio, strength, lever lengths and body proportions and tendon insertions…to name just a few.

 In saying that, hard work, determination and smart training techniques go a long way!

 A great way to increase the size of your arms is targeting the brachialis. The brachialis is the muscle under the biceps that contribute to elbow flexor.

Simple test: If your pronated curling strength is not around 82% of your supinated grip strength, your brachialis is weak and most likely under-developed.

 Moral of the story…Train your brachialis!

Problem solved!


The top 3 exercises for the brachialis are:

Scott reverse curls with a thick bar

The use of fat grips are brilliant for this, as it brings in more activation because you have to squeeze that grip even more, which I personally think brings that brachialis into play.


Zottmann curls

This exercise will only work if you fully pronate in the eccentric portion. Don’t be a wise ass and try and use alternative options like a kettlebell for more activation.  


Standing – half reverse curls with bands

Set the bands so you reach full range between 45 to 90 degrees of range of motion. At the end of the range of motion, contract against the bands at maximal effort so that the brachialis fires up for six seconds. Great brachio-radialis builder too.


Now once you have established this essential key to strengthening your arms, there are four other factors that are vital in getting those 20 inch arms.

  1. Increase your weekly volume of training

Research shows that muscle protein synthesis is rebooted every 48 to 72 hours, which means you will need to work a muscle two to three times a week to achieve optimal growth…once every seven days just doesn’t cut it.


  1. Use tempo training

Weight training isn’t as simple as lifting an object from A to B. The tempo with which you lift is integral to building bigger arms. Ensure you stick to a four-digit tempo code eg:  In seconds, the first digit refers to how long you take to lower the weight, the second digit how long to pause at the bottom of the lift, the third how long taken to lift the weight, and finally the fourth digit refers to how long you pause at the top of the movement.


  1. Consume plenty of protein

In order to increase the size of any muscle, you should be getting sufficient protein in your diet. The American College of Sports Medicine advises anywhere between 1.4 to 2 grams of protein, per kilo of bodyweight, per day. The amino acids that make up the building blocks of protein contribute to repairing muscle tissue after training, which then corresponds to increased growth.

See my ebook for further information regarding this point.


  1. Stretch to grow

Stretching and flexing your biceps and triceps is key to signalling growth. Increased biceps training, coupled with a desk-heavy job, needs to be combined with sufficient stretching, otherwise the bicep’s tendon may become too tight and shortened, which can rotate your shoulders internally and create the illusion your arms aren’t as big as they really are. Alleviate the issue by standing side-on to a solid wall, about an arm’s width away. With the nearest arm, place your palm flat on the wall while keeping the arm outstretched – you’ll feel the pinch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.