Well-defined arms with lovely shape are the perfect accessory to your dream body. Plus, they make any sleeveless dress or tank top look even better.
Don’t shy away from curling hard and heavy. Trust me: Your arms are not going to rip out of your sleeves. Women don’t produce nearly enough testosterone to make huge gains quickly. Even the biggest guys know that building a lot of muscle takes time.
Shapely biceps and triceps are an important part of a symmetrical physique. They’re also an important part of being a strong lifter!
Here’s a quick guide to training your arms. I’ve even included a workout. Let’s get those guns pumping girls!
Girls Just Wanna Have Guns
A great thing about training your biceps and triceps is that you don’t have to spend a million hours working them. Whenever you do any pushing movements like push-ups or presses to work your chest, you also work your triceps. Whenever you do pulls like lat pull-downs or rows to train your back, you indirectly work your biceps.
If you lift hard on your chest and back days, then you don’t need to spend too much time doing arm workouts. Moreover, the biceps and triceps are smaller muscles, so you don’t get many metabolic benefits from training them.
A great thing about training your biceps and triceps is that you don’t have to spend a million hours working them.
I prefer to work my arms directly one day per week for 30-45 minutes. That workout, coupled with the indirect work my biceps and triceps get during my other workouts, is more than enough to keep my arms strong and looking great.
The Basics: Curls and Extensions
Most biceps and triceps workout routines are based on two exercises: the curl and the extension. These exercises work by taking the muscles through their natural function with resistance.
Your biceps contract to flex your elbow (bring your hand toward your face), and the triceps contract to extend the elbow (bring your hand back down from your face and straighten your arm).
There are many variations of these movements, but the principle is always the same: curls flex the elbow, and extensions extend the elbow.
When you flex and extend your elbow with resistance, you recruit muscle fibers. The heavier you go, the more muscle fibers you need to move the weight. If you challenge your muscles consistently, they respond by growing.
I see many women doing a lot of curls with those little, five-pound dumbbells. Remember, your muscles should strain to do the work or they won’t change.
Whoever said that women should do a lot of reps with zero weight needs to be set straight. If your workout isn’t hard, you’re not going to see results!
Example Arms Exercises
- Hammer curl
- Barbell curl
- Incline curl
- Cable curl
- Overhead dumbbell extension
- Cable pull-down
Lady Guns Workout
This workout is perfect for women who are either new at arm training or need a more effective plan. Remember, you’re already working your biceps and triceps on your chest and back days, so this workout is just for refinement.
I like doing this workout because it includes some of my favorite methods: 21-guns and burnouts! This workout is also great because we use the perfect rep range for hypertrophy (lean muscle-building). Be sure to use weight that’s heavy enough so the last few reps are pretty difficult.
Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.
The 21 method is a fun way to work your biceps. To do it, complete 7 reps at the lower half of a biceps curl, 7 reps at the upper half of the biceps curl, and then finish with 7 complete reps. Take some extra rest after a set if you need to!
Partial reps can help strengthen your muscles at their weakest points. For biceps curls, usually the beginning and the ending stages of the curl are the most difficult. If you can handle a lot of weight at your weakest areas, you’ll apply a huge amount of stimulus to your muscles.
Burn-out sets are difficult, but also really fun. I promise you’ll feel a massive pump in your biceps and triceps after you finish. Try to get 100 reps in as few sets as you can.
You don’t need to do a lot of weight, but make sure it’s enough resistance that you can feel it. If the weight starts to get too heavy, don’t be afraid to drop the weight and keep going. Try not to rest for long.
Burn-out sets are usually used to completely fatigue your muscles when they’re already tired. Although some people don’t like them, I think they’re a fun way to completely exhaust the last little bit of energy from my muscles. Go ahead and try them, if you don’t like them or don’t find them effective, there’s no need to continue doing them.
Aside from the sets of 21-method curls, make sure you do every exercise with a full range of motion. If you’re unsure about how to do any of the above movements, please visit the Exercise Database. There, you’ll get step-by-step instructions so you can feel confident doing every exercise.