Want to grow big arms at home? This is the perfect workout to grow Superman-like arms and increase the circumference of your upper arm. The below biceps and triceps exercises are all well-suited for home gyms, and use only the best home gym equipment: if you have a cable machine at home, well, lucky you; the rest of us will have to settle for using the best dumbbells and best kettlebells instead.
Resistance training – paired with a good diet and ample rest – is an excellent way to build muscle and boost metabolism effectively at home. Resistance training at home has the added convenience of not being around other people. You can also significantly reduce commuting times to and from the gym.
The best biceps and triceps workout for home gyms
Be extra careful when you work with heavy weights; it's easier than you think to injure yourself if you don't pay enough attention to your surroundings. Working out at home also means there are fewer (or no) people around you to spot/help you if needed, so taking some extra care is a good idea.
Warm up before your workout and do some stretches (more info here: working from home – 5 BEST stretching exercises to get rid of neck and back pain) to get the muscles ready for the workout. Improving joint mobility can help you more than just lifting easier, so ensure you twist and bend all your body parts adequately.
IMPORTANT: if you are new to exercising or haven't done much resistance training in recent years, it's always best to get at least one person to help you with your workouts to be on the safe side. Also, should you have any concerns about your well-being or health, please consult a medical professional before you start working out.
1. Standing dumbbell curl
Equipment needed: dumbbells or kettlebells
Best for: bicep gains
Hold the dumbbells in your hands, arm extended and resting on the side of your thighs. Then, bend one arm from the elbow, lifting the dumbbell up to your shoulder. Following the same path, return to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm. One rep is when you finished the movement with both arms.
We applied a little change to transform this otherwise isolation exercise into a sort-of compound one: when you perform standing dumbbell curls, you need to engage your core to keep your body from swaying back and forth as you curl the dumbbell.
2. Dumbbell triceps extension
Equipment needed: dumbbell or barbell (opens in new tab) (E-Z bar)
Best for: quick tricep gains
Standing overhead extension is the best complimentary semi-isolation exercise to standing dumbbell curl: after working the biceps, it's time to show your triceps some love. In fact, since the tricep is bigger than the bicep, you'll need to show a lot more love to this muscle in order to have big arms.
Hold the dumbbell with both hands behind your head, elbows bent, arms pointing upward. Extend your arm so the dumbbell is over your head (be careful!), then return to the starting position.
Elbows need to point forward and not sideways as you extend your arms. It's only the lower arm that moves, the upper arm is stationary as you perform the exercise. Also, keep your wrist straight and don't let the weights 'drop' in your hands when the arms are extended. That way you would strain your wrist and we don't want that.
Equipment needed: weighted vest or resistance bands
Best for: BIG triceps and pecs gains
In depth: How to do push ups
Starting position is arms extended and shoulder-width apart whilst you are facing the floor. Make sure your palms are directly under your shoulders on the floor. Core and glutes engaged, back straight. It is very important to keep the core engaged all the way through the full motion. Don't let your hip drop and 'sag in the middle' or push your bum out as you bend your elbows.
Another very important aspect of doing push ups is the position of the elbows. Don't let them stick out, keep them tucked in a 45-degree angle. Bringing them closer would work the triceps more, flaring them out is just bad form.
At the lowest position, your nose should almost touch the floor: if someone would place a bowl of water on your back and the liquid in it should be level. That is unless you are aren't doing decline push ups because then you'd get your head wet. Why would anyone want to do that?
Focus on the muscles you want to work all the way through the movement, not just on the way up but also as you lower your body. Keeping the muscles under tension for longer means they are worked harder and harder work, as we all know, will deliver results quicker.
4. Overhead press
Equipment needed: dumbbells, kettlebells or barbell
Best for: shoulder and triceps gains
Sets: 3 Reps: 8
In depth: how to do overhead presses
To perform a standing barbell overhead press, load the appropriate plates onto each end of the barbell (the same on both ends) and secure the weights with the collars. Then, pick up the barbell from the ground using an overhand grip and rest it on the top of your chest. Legs are shoulder width, core engaged.
When you press the bar up, it should move in a straight vertical line. In order for it to do just that, you will need to move your head back and forth a bit as the bar passes in front of it. Keep your core engaged all the way through the motion and don't arch your back, that will lead to lower back pain (and injuries in general).
If you are in the gym, it helps doing some reps with only the barbell and watching your form in the mirror. There is no shame in trying to perfect your form and you definitely won't impress anyone performing exercises with a bad form and injuring yourself.
5. Dumbbell bent over row
Equipment needed: dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell
Best for: biceps and back gains
In depth: How to do bent over rows
To perform a standing bent over row, start off with your legs slightly over shoulder-width apart, dumbbells resting on the floor in front of your legs. Bend down and pick up the weights using an underhand or neutral grip.
The starting position is you being bent over as far over as you can comfortably go without stretching your hamstrings too much. Bend your knees ever so slightly so your legs aren't locked. Your arms are extended and your shoulders are open, back straight and not arched. Core engaged.
When you pull the weights, make sure you pull it towards your belly and not your chest. Keep your core engaged and try not to swing back and forth as perform the exercise. Your shoulders stay open, don't drop them even when the weights are in the lowermost position.
Protein is key to muscle gains
Many of us would not choose a bowl of brown rice with some kale, beans and grilled chicken breast over a double-stack hamburger and a milkshake. However, I can't even start to explain why the latter combination is just the worst in terms of nutrition and, most importantly, gains.
If you want to build muscle mass quickly, you will need to be more mindful of your diet, and it is especially true when working out at home. Considering you move less because you work/live/workout at home, your daily calorie needs to drop, so you will need less food in general. Having a smart scale at hand, like the Tanita BC-401 (opens in new tab) body composition monitor, can help you measure how many calories your body needs to function.
Also, add more protein to your diet and cut back on 'bad' carbs and fats. If you need more protein, you can consider having a protein shake (opens in new tab) or a low-sugar protein bar (opens in new tab) daily to keep the levels topped up.