The best exercises for arms

There is infinity of exercises for the arms, either for triceps or for biceps or forearm, but not all of them are equally effective when it comes to getting what we want: strong and large arms. A combination of multi-joint exercises with isolation exercises is the ideal mix to achieve our goals.
It is vital to know how these muscles respond to the training stimulus since that is where the greatest gains are hidden. It is a simple article but at the same time very important when it comes to understanding arm training.
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In what ways can I train my arms?

There are two ways, which each depends on the other: directly and indirectly. The direct work is that work done of isolation for the arms, monoarticular exercises that look for a direct stimulus of the muscle to work. The indirect labor occurs in those multi-joint exercises that during implementation need arm strength.

As a rule, those exercises that work the chest indirectly work the triceps and, those who work the back indirectly work the biceps.

Advantages and disadvantages of indirect training


  • The multi-joint exercises can be worked in ranges of strength (5 or fewer repetitions), which allows having dense and hard arms thanks to the sarcomeric hypertrophy.
  • They produce high hormonal segregation that will maximize the gains obtained in training.
  • It allows for increasing the volume of work in arms training because it is complemented with direct work. For example, if you directly trained your biceps on Monday it is very possible that on Wednesday you will not be able to do it again, and yet, if you can perform a back workout that works indirectly on the biceps.


  • They do not allow maximum hypertrophy.
  • They must be done before direct work. This is because if we have discomfort in the arms of previous training, the performance in multiarticular exercises will decrease considerably.

Advantages and disadvantages of direct training


  • The isolation allows a very powerful stimulus in the target muscle if performed correctly.
  • It allows maximum sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
  • The fatigue with these exercises is greater.
  • Greater muscle congestion


  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy produces a muscle with a soft, “swollen” appearance, where most of the gains are accumulations of water.
  • They cannot train in strength ranges (5 or fewer repetitions) under serious risk of injury.
  • Hormonal segregation is very small or nonexistent.

The information presented here is based on the studies of Bret Contreras. They used specific measuring devices that allow measuring the EMG, the electrical activity that a muscle receives when performing a certain exercise. That is, the greater the EMG, the greater the stimulus received by the muscle.

Best exercises for biceps

  • Dominated with a neutral grip, hands separated and with ballast. Indirect work
  • Supine dominated with ballast. Indirect work
  • Bicep curl with bar. Direct work
  • Bicep curl with Z bar. Direct work.

Best exercises for triceps

  • Funds in parallel with ballast. Indirect work
  • Pulley extensions with rope. Direct work
  • Pulley extensions. Direct work
  • Press bench with a narrow grip. Indirect work

Best forearm exercises

The impact they had on the forearm was not measured in those studies, however, there are many exercises that efficiently work these muscles.

  • Dominated pronated with ballast. Indirect work
  • Dead weight. Indirect work
  • The hammer-type bicep curl. Direct work
  • Forearm Curl Direct work

Superseries in the work of arms

Supersets consist of performing several exercises followed without rest in between. The main objective of this technique is to densify the training producing a greater stimulus and greater fatigue.

It is important to know that biceps-triceps are opposite muscle groups, just like back-chest. While performing a biceps exercise, the triceps is resting without doing work so it is very common to include supersets of opposing muscles to get more stimulation in the target muscles.

It is not advisable to abuse the supersets either, since in such a case, in the long run, it can entail notable disadvantages. Well done, the biceps-triceps and chest-back superseries will get you maximizing your arm gains by including direct work and indirect work.

In your routine

Always incorporate both exercises that work directly and that multi-joint that indirectly work your arms, since it is the best way to get strong arms, big and hard. Effort, diet, work, dedication and knowledge, you do not need more to achieve your goals.

Written by Razia Begum

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