Arms are by far the most popular muscle group to train. Everyone wants those biceps and triceps to pop when they flex onstage—or bring that scroll to a sudden halt on social media.
Just because you want massive arms doesn’t mean you need to devote hours a day to improve them. Nor do you need any fancy machines. All you need to build sleeve-splitting arms is 20 minutes, free weights, and dedication.
This workout only requires equipment you can easily keep at home or find in the gym. If you don’t have a bench, you can easily lie on the floor instead.
You’ll attack each muscle group with a technique called giants set. With giant sets, you don’t do all the sets for Exercise 1 (for biceps in this case), then all the sets for Exercise 2, etc., like you normally would. Instead, do one set of Exercise 1, then, without resting, one set of Exercise 2, etc. Continue in this fashion until you’ve done one set of each listed exercise in succession. Only then, after completing one giant set, can you rest 45 seconds before starting the next giant set (for triceps in this case).
The exercises are paired so that they can be done with the same equipment. The technique tips below include two exercises in each entry, since they’re such close cousins.
Close-Grip Barbell Curl and Wide-Grip Barbell Curl
The barbell curl is about as simple as it gets. Keep your elbows at your sides, curl the bar up to a 45-degree angle, and do not use momentum. If you prefer the EZ-bar, use that instead.
In this circuit, you’ll perform barbell curls in two different ways. First, you’ll use a closer-than-shoulder-width grip to get the outer biceps. Then follow with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip to blast the inner head. You shouldn’t need much weight since you’ll be performing 16 reps total between the two versions.
Dumbbell Curl and Hammer Curl
As soon as you’re done with the barbell, trade it in for dumbbells. A barbell is great for lifting heavy weight using both arms, while using dumbbells forces each arm to work on its own. Your arms will be tired from the barbell curls, so push yourself without ditching good form.
Perform your traditional dumbbell curls with your palms facing up for all 8 reps, taking care not to swing your body or your elbows to lift the weight. Once you finish, twist the dumbbells to a hammer curl position to blast your brachialis and forearms. If you need to use a different pair of dumbbells for each curl variation, go for it.
Skullcrusher and Close-Grip Bench Press
Unless you’re a rookie, you’ve probably done this superset—or at least seen it done. You don’t need a bench to perform these exercises, but using a bench press setup does make it easier to transition from one exercise to the next.
As with the biceps, these first two exercises are barbell exercises, and you can use an EZ-bar instead if you prefer. Perform the skullcrushers using a narrow grip for the required number of reps. Keep your upper arms stationary as you hinge at the elbow to drop the weight back.
Without changing your grip, transition to the presses. Keep your elbows close to your body and make those triceps burn. You don’t need to go to failure here, but you should focus on squeezing the triceps at the top and controlling the weight on the way down.
Tate Press and Kick-back
Tate presses will torch all three heads of the triceps with one simple move. Lying on the bench or floor, hold the dumbbells vertically on your chest with your elbows flared out, your palms facing your feet, and your knuckles together. In one fluid motion, press the dumbbells up, turning them to a horizontal position as you squeeze your elbows and press with the triceps.
Focus on your triceps working and not simply pushing the dumbbells up. This exercise can take a toll on the elbows, so use proper form and squeeze at the top of the movement.
Once you’re done, stand up and finish with double-arm triceps kick-backs. You’ll need to be in a bent-over position to properly load the triceps, so hinge from the hips and keep your spine straight. As you press the weight, keep your upper arms parallel to the floor at your sides. Only the lower portion of your arms should move as you hinge from the elbow to kick the weight back.