Strong arms are a critical point of your athletic performance, and I’m sure you are already painfully aware of that.
So if you want to increase the efficiency of your arms workout, you’ll need to take a closer look at the anatomy of the arm muscles to fully understand the biomechanical mystery that takes place when you perform all those bicep curls and triceps extensions.
Understanding the basic science of your muscles can differentiate you from the average lifter and take your training to the next level.
Although there are many other muscles to be found in your arms, the ones mentioned below are most crucial when it comes to weight training. That being said, the angles and hand grips used during the lift will greatly influence which muscles get the biggest part of the load.
The three major muscles located on the front of your upper arm are the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis.
The biceps brachii consists of short and long head, which are two smaller muscles, both running down the upper arm from the top of the shoulder blade and attaching to the radius bone.
The brachialis starts from the mid point of the upper arm and ends at the other forearm bone (ulna). And the brachioradialis is postitioned on the lower arm, starting at the humerus and attaching to the radius.
The biceps and brachialis are responsible for giving the elbow its flexing movement, the biceps alone assist the supination of the wrist, while the short head plays a role in the shoulder flexion. And since the radioulnar joint is responsible for rotating the forearm and creating pronation/supination, its position will determine which head of your biceps you’re going to target.
Let’s move to the next major group of muscles located on the back side of the arm – the triceps, which cover almost two-thirds of the upper arm and have a key part in elbow extension.
The triceps consists of three smaller muscles or heads. The lateral and medial head start under the shoulder and end at the elbow, while the long head runs from the shoulder blade and attaches to the elbow.
The lateral head is best targeted with a supinated (palms up) or neutral (hands facing each other) grip and the medial head with a pronated (palms down) grip – the long head, which assists in shoulder extension, gets maximum activation when the arm is raised during extension exercises.
This calls for an arms training which will most effectively use the full potential of your major muscle groups for maximum growth and strength gains. And now that we’ve covered the absolute basics, let’s see how the ultimate upper arm training routine should look like:
“Arms Done Right” Program
1. Preacher Biceps Curl
Targets the short head of the biceps. Do 3-4 sets with 8-15 reps each.
2. Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Targets the long head of the triceps. Do 3-4 sets with 8-15 reps each.
3. Incline Bench Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Targets the long head of the biceps. Do 3 sets with 10-15 reps each.
4. Rope Triceps Extension
Targets the lateral head of the triceps. Do 3 sets with 10-15 reps each.
5. Overhand Cambered Bar Biceps Curl
Targets the brachialis. Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps each.
6. Cable Triceps Pressdown
Targets the medial head of the triceps. Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps each.