When first starting training one of the key motivators for a lot of people is to get bigger arms, there are literally thousands of specialized programs out there, many of which claim to add inches to your arms in a short time frame.
Can you train arms everyday? When looking for a new approach to training arms and building more muscle a specialized high frequency program can be used to stimulate new growth. With this you can train arms everyday however you need to keep the training volume of each session low at around 2 – 6 sets.
The reality of arm training for most however is that a specialized program will only tend to work once you approach the advanced stages of training and have spent a good length of time getting strong in the basics.
I’ve read that in order to gain 1 inch to your arm you would need to gain roughly 10lbs of lean muscle mass over your entire body. This does make sense from an evolutionary standpoint however one advantage that beginners have is the beginner gains phase.
The shock to the body of weight training for the first year means that you are in a primed position to start building muscle and it’s not unheard of for peoples arms (or any specific body part) to grow at a quicker rate depending on genetics and how a muscle group responds to training.
People do get carried away in the early stages of training however and tend to focus on the wrong aspects when it comes to building a physique. Endless sets of curls will genuinely do less for bicep development then getting stronger in the deadlift, pull up and heavy rows.
The reason for this is that you are limited by the weight you can use in an isolation exercise like the bicep curl however for a multi joint compound exercise you can lift much heavier.
Even though the bicep is a secondary muscle on the pull up for example, you could still be lifting up to 225lbs in terms of body weight and 225lbs will arguably do more for bicep growth then a 25lb bicep curl.
Can You Train Arms Everyday
Whilst focusing on getting stronger in the basic lifts should be a priority for most there are still those that will want to train arms as often as possible which raises the question of can you train arms everyday.
Whilst this is a difficult approach to go for if you are looking for optimal growth, there are certainly methods that you can follow to train arms everyday and see results.
Just to be clear however, when I say everyday what I actually mean is every training day. Everyone regardless of training experience will need to factor in rest days on a weekly basis, even if you’re not fully taxing your muscles through training your central nervous system will still need rest.
When training arms everyday there are a few things to consider. Training arms at the start of a workout will give them priority as a fresh muscle group, I would advise against this for upper body day though as your subsequent lifts will suffer as a result.
Training arms at the end of your workout will be a low intensity set and will mean that the rest of your workout is not impacted.
You will also need to consider what your focus will be when training arms, in terms of the upper arms the biceps make up ⅓ of overall mass whereas the triceps make up ⅔. Therefore if your ultimate goal is arm size as a whole then it’s worth putting additional focus on the triceps as this is where the most room for growth will be!
The following sections are going to be dedicated to the process you should follow in order to successfully train arms everyday.
Keep Volume Low and Frequency High
The key to training arms everyday is not going to be annihilating them day after day and then hindering your ability to recover, instead the focus is going to be purely on stimulation.
You only need to train a muscle group hard enough that you stimulate protein synthesis. This is the anabolic chemical process for muscle growth, the two stages are protein synthesis or protein degradation.
It’s important to be in protein synthesis for muscle growth and weight training is the process that kick starts this chemical reaction. It also doesn’t take training to failure every set to activate this however on the other extreme lifting 10lbs for 100 reps will unlikely be enough to produce protein synthesis.
Once you flip this switch on, protein synthesis will last up to 48 hours in trained individuals (it can be as long as 72 hours in untrained individuals) which means your muscle is in a muscle building state for the next 48 hours.
This means that increasing training frequency is more commonly becoming a valid training approach, it’s highly recommended by world renowned hypertrophy coach Christian Thibaudeau and is one of the reasons why training arms everyday has some merit.
The difficult part is this with increased frequency comes a need for reduced volume, you can’t train high frequency and high volume for a significant period of time, that is too much for an average gym goer to benefit from.
The difficult part is that you will need to show some restraint and keep your training to 1 bicep exercise and 1 tricep exercise per session. This will seem like you aren’t training the muscle enough but remember you only need to activate protein synthesis, this isn’t about marathon training.
1 exercise per muscle group should leave you training between 2 – 6 sets for arms per workout and that is it. You should approach these sets with a high intensity approach and make sure you get the most out of every set at an 8 – 15 rep range and this will be enough.
Alternate Between Biceps and Triceps
Reading the previous paragraph might have been a training recommendation that you didn’t want to hear, especially if arm training is your favorite aspect of hitting the gym. Adherence and sticking to a routine is essential for results, therefore the low volume, high frequency approach is only if you want absolutely maximum results.
If you are not a fan of that approach then there is another approach that you can take that will be better for recovery between sessions whilst still making the most of a high frequency approach focusing on staying in protein synthesis.
This approach is alternating between bicep training and tricep training on different days. With this approach you can increase the volume of a muscle group on certain training days whilst keeping overall volume for the week the same.
Your training split could help facilitate this approach, if you are running a push/pull split then it’s easier to add your bicep day in with your pulling day and triceps in with the push day.
As they already act as a secondary muscle group by scheduling them like this it means you will have no negative crossover from session to session. By this I mean training triceps one day and then suffering on your pushing exercises the following day because your triceps are too taxed.
This is a great approach to really target the muscle group for that specific session however it will be pointless if you target all heads of the muscle group with your exercise selection.
Exercise selection is crucial when you want maximum growth for your arms because both the biceps and triceps are made up of different heads with different muscle functions. A barbell curl and dumbbell curl will target the same head despite being two different exercises as an example.
Bicep Anatomy and Exercise Selection
As you can see the bicep, despite being a small muscle, actually has two heads (brachialis runs underneath the bicep) that need to be targeted in different ways in order to fully stimulate them and recruit the necessary muscle fibres.
The following are exercises that you should use to target each specific head of the bicep:
- Bicep Long Head – This is best worked with the arms behind your body to fully stretch the long head, the best exercises for this are incline dumbbell curls and hammer curls
- Bicep Short Head – This is best training with your elbows in front of your body, the best exercises for this are preacher curls, spider curls and high cable curls
- Brachialis – This is best worked with the hands in a neutral grip, the best exercises for this are dumbbell hammer curls and neutral grip pull ups
Triceps Anatomy and Exercise Selection
The triceps are made up of the lateral head (outside section of upper arm), long head (top portion of upper arm) and the medial head (inner portion of upper arm).
Much like the bicep the tricep is made up multiple heads and each has a different function so needs to be targeted in different ways.
The following are exercises that you should use to target each specific head of the triceps:
- Lateral Head – This is best worked with the arms by your side and with an overhand grip, the best exercises for this are cable pushdowns and dips
- Long Head – This is best worked with arms overhead, the best exercises for this are overhead extensions, French press and skull crushers
- Medial Head – This is best worked with arms by your side and with an underhand grip, the best exercises for this are reverse cable pushdowns and reverse close grip bench press.
Now that you know you can train arms everyday if you want then check out my article on arm training for ectomorphs which gives a full program for targeting all the muscle group heads of the arms.
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