If you’ve got a set of dumbbells and a resistance band lying about, then you can build big arms just like @nathanielmassiah. This guy’s sharing his six secret moves to arms that will make you the envy of all your gym buddies.
We’ve asked personal trainer, Joe Nixon, to break down each exercise so that you can avoid injury and get the most out of each move. So, grab your dumbbells and resistance band and get building those bi’s and tri’s.
Seated bicep curl
4 sets of 10–12 reps
No matter what type of curls you do, you’ll be targeting the biceps and brachialis to varying degrees. A supinated grip places most of the load on the long head of the bicep, which, when well-developed, gives the bicep a ‘tall’ look. This is the case with the seated bicep curl, which makes this exercise a favorite ‘peak-builder’ amongst athletes.
1. Sit on a bench with your arms hanging to the ground, dumbbells in hand.
2. Keeping your elbows in place and palms supinated. Contract your biceps and bring the weight up to your chest, squeezing hard at the top.
3. Relax the biceps to slowly bring the weight back to the starting position, maintaining full control throughout.
Banded triceps overhead extensions
4 sets of 12–15 reps
Using a band is an effective way to perform resistance training when you have no access to a gym. The constant tension throughout the movement keeps the load directly on the triceps. You can make it harder by adjusting your grip or using heavier resistance bands, but by focusing on time-under-tension you’ll surely hit the level of difficulty you need. The key to performing this exercise correctly is a well-developed sense of proprioception — learn to feel the movement and adjust accordingly.
1. Attach one end of a resistance band to a low implement and face away from it. Hold the other end in your hands behind your head, with your elbows flared
2. Contract your triceps and extend your arms overhead, pushing the sides of your palms up and outwards against the tension. Contract hard at full lockout.
3. Slowly bend your elbows and return your hands to the starting position, maintaining tension throughout.
3 sets of 10-12 reps
Hammer curls are one of the few bicep movements that you can go relatively heavy on. The hammer curl, with its neutral grip, distributes the strain across the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis. Simply put, the sides of your arms and upper forearms kick in to help. This develops an overall ‘thickness’ to the arm that few curling movements can match. Use heavier weight than normal to maximize the effectiveness.
1. Hold the dumbbells in each arm, with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards towards each other).
2. Contract to bring the weight slowly up, maintaining tension on the upper arms. Squeeze hard at the top.
3. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position at the sides of the body.
Dumbbell skull crushers
3 sets of 10–12 reps
Aside from sounding extremely badass, the skull crusher is a highly effective triceps exercise because it allows for the natural rotation of the wrists. This facilitates a natural movement and overloads the triceps in varying degrees at different points across the range of motion.
1. Lay flat on a bench with dumbbells in a neutral grip and arms outstretched.
2. Keeping the elbows pointing vertically, lower the weight to the sides of your head, allowing your grip to go from neutral to supinated. *Note – to what degree you supinate your grip is highly individual, do what feels right for you.
3. Contract and slowly bring the weight back to the starting neutral grip position.
3 sets of 12–15 reps
Zottman curls are a way of ‘hacking’ the strength that comes with the hammer curl, alongside the isolation of a standard curl. The upwards motion uses a concentric contraction to target the biceps, while the negative portion uses an eccentric contraction to overload the brachialis and brachioradialis to hit all areas of the bicep.
1. Perform a standard bicep curl with a supinated grip (palms upwards).
2. At the top, rotate your wrists so that your grip is now pronated (palms down).
3. Very slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Take at least 4 – 6 seconds on the negative rep.
Banded triceps pushdowns
3sets of 12–15 reps
The banded triceps pushdown is an inexpensive alternative to the popular cable pulley exercise and compliments the overhead triceps extension. With a focus on time under tension and feel for the movement, the banded triceps pushdown can complete the job just as well. Contraction at the top of the movement is doubly important with bands, and tension should be so constant that it almost feels like one large rep rather than many.
1. Attach a band at one end to a raised implement, such as a pull up bar.
2. Holding the band in two hands, contract your triceps and pull the band down and outwards, keeping tension against the band throughout. Contract hard at the bottom.
3. Slowly bend your elbows and let the bandrevert back to the starting position, maintaining tension throughout.
Take home message
Incorporate this quick workout from @nathanielmassiah to build bigger arms with limited equipment. Make sure you squeeze everything out of each rep to see even better results. Who needs the gym to build muscle anyway?!