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Unless you can complete a set of 5 chin-ups and 8 dips, you should limit exercises that isolate your arms, such as biceps curls and triceps extensions. “Your arms will grow best when you focus on the basics,” says Kelly Baggett, a certified personal trainer with the International Sports Sciences Association in the US. The basics, he explains, are compound exercises – such as the chin-up and dip – that force you to move at more than one joint. These movements allow you to use heavier weights than you would with single-joint isolation exercises, while also training either your chest or back. So, don’t worry. By using these moves, you’ll fully engage the muscles of your arms with each repetition, and you’ll also shore up any weakness in the larger muscles of your upper body.
If you can’t perform 5 chin-ups and 8 dips yet, do Workout A twice a week. When you’re able to complete a full complement of both exercises, progress to Workout B, performing the routine once every 3 to 5 days for bigger arms – and a better total body.
How Big Are Your Arms?
Since it requires only a tape measure, finding the circumference of your arms is an excellent way to gauge the effectiveness of your arm workout.
Your arms may look slightly larger after a workout or meal, when blood and water rush to your muscles. So, for the most accurate results, take all your measurements at the same time of day, such as before breakfast. Extend your arm in front of you (un-flexed) and wrap a measuring tape around the largest portion of your upper arm. Record the circumference, then measure your other arm.
Track Your Progress
Record the total circumference of both your arms in the chart below. Then follow this
workout and re-measure every 2 weeks.
Workout ADo this workout if you can’t complete 5 chin-ups and 8 dips.
1a Negative Chin-Up
Set a bench under a chin-up bar, then stand on the bench and grasp the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you) and your hands about shoulder-width apart. Give yourself a boost from the bench so you don’t have to use much effort to pull your chest up next to your hands. Slowly lower yourself for a count of 6 seconds. Then hop back up to the bar and repeat. The plan: Perform 5 or 6 repetitions. Rest for 90 seconds, then move to the next exercise.
1b Negative Dip
Grab parallel dip bars and use your legs to boost yourself up so that your arms are straight and all your weight is resting on your hands. Keeping your elbows tucked close to your body, slowly lower yourself by bending your elbows for a count of 6 seconds. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor at the end of the move. Place your feet on the floor to boost yourself back up and repeat. The plan: Do 5 or 6 repetitions. Rest for 90 seconds, then perform a second set of negative chin-ups (1a). Continue alternating between exercises for a total of 4 or 5 sets of each movement, resting for 90 seconds between sets.