The Best Arm Exercises with weights.
As I’ve already told, arm muscles are the most significant bodybuilder image.
That’s why all people – from beginners to pros – workout hard to develop their
biceps and triceps muscles.
So, let’s discuss the best and most effective arm exercises that the most famous athletes of the world use most often during their arm workout. There are a lot of variants of arm exercises for men and for women: Alternate Dumbbell Curls, Barbell Curls, Seated Barbell Curls, Scott Bench Curls and many others. If you add to this group numerous extensions using all sorts of machines you’ll understand how many there are such arm exercises. Still, in spite of this plenty, athletes never stop looking for even more efficient ways of performance of these exercises and invent numerous new ones. It’s quite possible to get lost in all these arm exercises; that’s why, as usually, I will discuss only the best of the best. But before we have to understand the arm exercises anatomy.
Arm exercises: bicep + tricep = 2+3
Why exactly 3+2? Everything is simple: anatomically our bicep consists of two muscular heads while triceps – of three ones. One needs to understand it to gain buffed arms. Let’s take a closer look.
As I’ve already said, biceps muscle (lat. musculus biceps brachii) has
the short oneand
the long one.
Both these heads are attached to the shoulder blade (but in different
places). The two heads form a common belly that pass into a strong tendon
attached to the radius. It needs saying that both biceps heads, in spite of their
names, are of the same length. Simply, the long head is attached to the bone by
means of a longer tendon.
When we perform arm exercises, our bicep flexes a forearm and turns it
outwards (supination). By means of the long head biceps takes part in our arm
abduction; by means of the short one – in its adduction.
Apart from two biceps heads, muscle group includes also the brachialis
muscle (lat. musculus brachialis) that’s situated right ‘under’ biceps and as if
pushes it outwards. The main function of the brachial muscle is to flex our
Triceps, as it can be understood due to its name, consists of three
Lateral head (the outer one),
Long head (the long one) and
the Medial one.
They are attached to different points of the shoulder blade and the
humerus and then ‘blend’ into the single triceps tendon attached to the ulnar
The outer head begins in the upper part of the humerus near the
shoulder joint and represent the outer side of the shoulder area of our arm. The
medial head is situated on the humerus and is partly covered by two other heads.
The long triceps head begins on the shoulder blade and is situated on the inner
side of the shoulder area of our arm. Before choosing arm exercises you have to
understand that triceps do two main functions: extension the elbow joint and
adduction of our arms to the torso.
Ok. What about top arm exercises then?
The best arm exercises toplist
This arm exercise is a classic compound one and is included into biceps
workout programs of all bodybuilders, both professional and amateur ones. Barbell
Curls greatly load the whole biceps and provide complete movement diapason.
Grip a barbell with a reverse grip (palms are facing you); your hands are at your shoulder width. In the starting exercise position the bar is touching your thighs. Take a deep breath and, when holding your breath, start bending your arms in elbow joints towards your shoulders. Make a pause in the upper point and strain your biceps muscles even more; then slowly and smoothly lower the barbell to the starting position. Since this arm exercise is a compound one, try to use heavier weights but not at the expense of sacrificing performance technique. Don’t ever ‘throw’ the barbell downward but lower it slowly. Pay especial attention to the last amplitude segment. Small cheating is allowed when performing the last reps of a set.
Alternate Dumbbell Curls With Supination
Why supination is so important in bicep exercises? It’s because it
activates the whole biceps at the same time. In bodybuilding this arm exercise is
considered one of the most efficient means of development of biceps and other
elbow joint flexors. This exercise can be performed both in the standing and seated positions. I personally believe that the best variant, however, is to perform it on an inclined bench (incline angle is 45-60°) because in this state biceps gets better possibility to extend in the lowest movement point and its long head is loaded much better. In case the bench back is positioned at the right angle the
exercise practically doesn’t differ from Barbell Curls.
I’d recommend completing this arm exercise in both alternate and synchronous variants. Still, the alternate variant allows you to concentrate better on biceps workout.
Don’t try to turn Barbell Curls into a power exercise. Your main task is not only to raise a dumbbell a certain quantity of times but to complete each repetition correctly and with irreproachable supination! You need to keep your elbows strictly by your body sides. When elbows move forward it becomes much easier to complete movements but they lose their efficiency in this case.
It’s a fantastic arm exercise for your biceps muscles! But I’d recommend completing it only with an EZ-barbell. Straight bar turning your wrists unnaturally and causes pain very soon; it also leads to quick fatigue of forearms and your hands can unclench on their own. This arm exercise is aimed at the lower biceps part. It’s very important that you lean against the upper third of the bench only with your elbows but not with your chest because only in this case the exercise amplitude is the maximum one. You need to straighten your arms completely in the lowest movement point; then raise the barbell to your chin and strain your biceps to the maximum extent in the upper movement point. Such additional biceps contraction is obligatory for each repetition! Don’t use too heavy weights in this exercise because your arms are in such position that it’s very easy to injure them; that’s why cheating is strictly prohibited.
Alternate Hammer Curls
This arm exercise allows you to deliver a ‘pointed strike’ to your
brachialis muscles. When performing it you don’t need to supinate your wrists
(palms are facing you) from the beginning to the end of the exercise movement.
With this hand position the main load falls on the outer biceps part and the
brachialis muscle. You can perform this arm exercise both in the standing and
In the starting position your arms are holding dumbbells and hanging along your torso; the grip is neutral (palms are facing your thighs); dumbbells are slightly touching them. Raise one of the dumbbells from this position fully controlling the movement to your shoulder level; don’t supinate your wrist. Strain your biceps in the upper movement point and then slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position; watch over that your wrist doesn’t turn when doing it. Try to feel your biceps contracting from the forearm to the shoulder. Then make a repetition with another dumbbell. Cheating is not allowed in this exercise because, in order to influence the target branchial muscles to the fullest extent, it’s very important to perform the exercise correctly. It’s also possible to perform this arm exercise on a low-cable pulley with rope attachment.
Close-Grip Bench Presses
It’s a basic tricep exercise. A close grip distributes a barbell load
between triceps, chest and deltoid muscles approximately into equal parts but it’s
possible to learn to concentrate load exactly on triceps muscles.
Performance technique: you need to take a middle-weight barbell using
a middle grip (not a close one). Position your back on a bench conveniently and
press your legs firmly against the floor in order to maintain balance. Straighten
your arms holding the barbell. The bar should be approximately at your shoulder
line. From this position start bending your arms till the bar touches the upper
chest part. And now the most important thing: remember not to keep your elbows
parallel to each other. They should be moved apart and the angle between them
and your torso should be approximately 45°. If you stick to the right performance
technique, elbow position and a wider grip it will allow you to concentrate the
exercise load exactly on triceps muscles.
Experiment with grip width and elbow angle. Find such position that will
suit you best of all. Possibly, a horizontal bench won’t be the best variant for you;
in this case I advise you to lower the head bench section (decline position): such
position will load triceps even more. Each person has individual body features
that differ from other peoples’ features: that’s why everyone needs to find the best
variant to guarantee the maximally efficient and comfort position for this
This is a basic arm exercise for increase of mass of triceps, chest and front deltoid muscles. The starting position: you hang on straightened arms between parallel dips. The grip is neutral (palms facing each other). Make a deep breath, start bending your elbows and slowly lower your torso till your shoulder joint is moderately extended: the ‘depth’ shouldn’t be maximum when you workout tricep muscles. Then start raising your body from the low position upward straightening your arms. You need to modify your performance technique and move the exercise emphasis either to chest or to triceps muscles from time to time.
Triceps emphasis. Initially, Dips are directed to train exactly triceps muscles. When you straighten your arms in the elbow joint you engage all three triceps heads. In order the main training load falls on triceps muscles you need to keep your arms close to the torso when lowering it; the lean forward should be minimal. The distance between dips should be no wider your shoulder width; otherwise a part of the exercise load will ‘move’ from triceps to chest muscles.
Chest emphasis. Small variations of performance technique can turn Dips into chest exercise. In order to make this exercise train mostly pectorial muscles, you need to move your elbows a bit apart when lowering the torso. You can also bend your knees and lean forward. The third variant to engage chest is to ‘widen’ your grip.
Incline Bench Extension
It’s a unique arm exercise that directs aimed load to the long triceps
fascicle. At the same time, chest and deltoid muscles are engaged to the
Obtain the lying position on a bench for Bench Presses and grip an EZ-Barbell (palms are facing away) that should be lying on the bench. Feel the extension of triceps muscles in the lower movement point when holding the barbell with your arms bent (elbow angle is up to 90°). Slowly straighten your arms and raise the barbell; then slowly return it to the starting position.
If you don’t feel the load on your triceps muscles it means that your elbows are not fixed: elbow movement makes the exercise movement easier but useless. Press your feet firmly against the floor but don’t put them on the bench; because otherwise you’ll lose balance and it will be much more difficult for you to keep the barbell angularly.
Pushdown (Cable Triceps Extensions)
It’s a ‘finishing’ arm exercise that makes your triceps work in two directions: arm extension in the elbow joint and its adduction to the torso. You perform this tricep exercise on a high-cable machine with a shoulder width (or a bit narrower) gip and fixed position of your elbows against the torso. Start
performing the exercise from the upper movement point smoothly straightening your arms and pressing the bar down till it reaches the lowest position. Hold your arms as close to the torso as possible. After a small pause accurately return your elbows to the starting position.
Choose the optimal grip width. It’s quite possible that you’ll need a wider grip than usually. The main rule is not to let your elbows move apart; otherwise the load will be shared with pectoral muscles.
Arm exercises for long biceps head
As you already know, biceps consists of two heads. It’s impossible to isolate them and workout each one separately. Still, there are arm exercises that load one head more than the other. Most often the short head is being trained more and the long one is often forgotten about; it often remains a kind of ‘pariah’ that nobody cares about. But it’s exactly the long head that provides the very ‘steep rise’ of biceps by the elbow joint. Sportsmen who are called genetically gifted regarding their biceps have the long biceps head involved almost in all biceps exercises and in case of grip of almost any width and position of elbows against the torso. But what is good for genetically gifted people suits ordinary ones not that well.
The long head is completely involved in case you fulfil the following two requirements:
Barbell grip (it’s clear that in this case we talk only about Barbell Curls:
seated, standing or preacher) should be quite wide (wider than your shoulder
width). When you perform Barbell Curls you elbows should be moved backward
and be behind the torso line.
A row of exercises require fulfilling these two conditions to engage the
long biceps head to the fullest extent. Try to follow at least one of them when
performing biceps exercises for long head.
Standing Wide-Grip Barbell Curls
This arm exercise doesn’t differ from usual Barbell Curls but in this
exercise your hands are positioned wider your shoulder width; it’s possible to
position them even much wider shoulder width. It’s more difficult to perform this
exercise than usual Barbell Curls; that’s why it’s advisable to reduce your barbell
weight a bit (at least for a start). One more additional secret: if you use straps to
fix your arms on the bar it will make it much easier to hold it in such
When you perform this bicep exercise your hands are positioned on the
bar a bit wider shoulder width. In the beginning of the movement, when bending
your arms, try to move elbows backward at the same time. This will allow you to
have the bar as if sliding along your torso. Try to keep it as close to your torso as
possible; raise the barbell only till the lower chest section. I personally don’t like
this arm exercise because I have to reduce weight in comparison with usual
Seated Wide-Grip Barbell Curls
Seat on the bench and position the bar on your thighs. Bend your arms
in elbow joints and raise the barbell to your chin; make a second pause and
return the barbell to the starting position. Begin the next rep without a pause.
When performing this arm exercise try to keep your elbows pressed against your
torso: in this case the exercise looks like half amplitude Barbell Curls. You can
perform this exercise in the end of your biceps training. In spite of the fact that
the exercise amplitude is reduced you’ll have to decrease the working weight due
to inconvenient (seated) position.
Preacher Wide-Grip Curls
You perform this arm exercise just the same as usual preacher Curls but your grip in this case should be somewhat wider than usually.
The Best Arm Exercise with weights for men and women is Written by: Dennis Borisov
© June 2009 www.gymper.com. All rights reserved. Reprint article with link only.