What is the first thing you notice about others when you look at them, except for their face, of course? Their upper body, right? It’s the beautifully sculpted arms, broad chest, and round shoulders that grabs your attention. Having a strong upper body is not just something that everyone notices, but it gives you the confidence to walk around since such a physique has always been associated with being strong and powerful. There are some key exercises that build biceps and triceps effectively so you can get real results in attaining the arm look you want.
Upper body strength is needed to meet everyday demands, and having strong upper arms means things will get done much more easily.
So, how can you achieve strong upper arms?
Building strong upper arms means you have to work up your biceps and triceps. These muscles need to be worked upon consistently, so you can build a robust upper body.
Read the article below, so you can learn how to build strong biceps and triceps easily.
Bicep Curl Overview
In our review of exercises that build biceps and triceps, we will start with the muscle everyone thinks of first when they talk about arm strength. The bicep, also known as bicep brachii, is a two-headed muscle found in your front arm, running in between your shoulder and elbow. Its key function is to rotate the arm and flex the elbow.
According to a study conducted in 2014, bicep curls, also known as arm curls or dumbbell curls, are one the most common and effective workouts done to build up upper arm muscles.
So here is how you can do the perfect bicep curl:
- Select weights you want to lift, and stand up straight, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent
- Hold your dumbbells with palms facing forward
- Keeping elbows close to the body and your core intact, start flexing your elbows upwards
- Hold the dumbbells on top for a few seconds and slowly return to the original position
- Repeat the exercise for 12-15 reps
Benefits of Bicep Curls
Bicep curls are one of the simplest exercises anyone can perform, whether you’re a beginner or a professional. It is a single joint exercise that isolates your biceps and helps increase the muscle’s size while engaging your core.
Moreover, this exercise strengthens your upper arms, sculpting the muscles beautifully, making them aesthetically pleasing. It boosts your athletic performances and facilitates everyday activities, where you need to lift or move around heavy objects, using your arm muscles correctly.
Furthermore, the bicep curls engage your core and allow great joint safety and stabilization as the muscles and joints move naturally in their range of motion.
Bicep Curl Variations
This simple exercise has a lot of variations to it, preventing mental and physical burnouts.
This exercise is one of the best variations of bicep curls, as it achieves the greatest muscle activation and isolates the biceps more than any other exercise.
- Sit at the end of a bench, opening your legs in a V
- Lean forward, and hold the dumbbell in one hand and rest your elbow on the inside of your thigh
- Putting your other elbow on the other thigh for stability, start curling your hands towards the shoulder
- When you reach the top, hold the dumbbell for a few seconds, feeling the biceps working, and then return to your original position, completing one rep
- Do not rest the hand on the floor until you finish all 12-15 reps.
Barbell curls are another variation of the bicep curl, where you have to keep your back fixed and straight at all times so that when you move your arms, your biceps can feel the tension.
- Stand straight with feet open shoulder-width apart
- Hold the barbell with palms facing forward
- Keeping your core tight and stabilizing your back, curl up your arms towards your shoulder
- Hold the position for a few seconds so your biceps can feel the tension created
- Slowly lower the hands back into their original position,
- Repeat 12-15 reps
Hammer curls is yet another variation of a bicep curl where just the turning of arms in a different direction challenges your strength and works up the forearms and your biceps.
- Holding the dumbbells in your arms, keep them in front of your thighs and open the feet hip-width apart
- Palms facing each other, engage your core, stabilize your back, squeeze the weights upwards towards your shoulders
- Keep your elbows fixed by your sides, raise the weights as high as you can
- Slowly lower the weights back down, and repeat 12-15 reps
Check out FitSW’s exercise database and filter on Bicep for even more exercises.
Common Bicep Curl Mistakes
Even though bicep curls are a fairly simple exercise, individuals still make mistakes, hindering their workout results.
- Make sure you don’t go too fast when lifting weights. Slowly curl the arms upwards in a smooth motion, and take your time to lower your hands down, focusing on your hand movements instead of rushing through the reps because correct posture is what makes all the difference.
- The second most common mistake that is made when performing bicep curls is moving the elbows. For a perfect bicep curl, your elbows should stay fixed by the sides of your torso, and your forearms should be the only thing moving upwards. If your elbows are moving, this means you’re trying to lift heavier weights than you should be lifting.
- When doing a bicep curl, the third thing you have to keep an eye out for is that your shoulders and torso should not be moving. You should be standing tall with your back upright and your core engaged. If you’re swinging and twisting to lift the weights, shift to fewer heavyweights and reduce the reps.
Triceps Extensions Overview
Even though bicep curls often get the glory, a key component of exercises that build biceps and triceps are tricep extensions. The triceps or the triceps brachii are a group of three muscles located at the back of your upper arm. They are located between your shoulder socket and the elbow, and they help strengthen the arms and stabilize the shoulders.
Just like biceps, your triceps also take their time to grow. If you’re consistent, you will start to show growth in your triceps within one to three months, but it can vary depending upon the person and habits.
Here is how you do triceps extension:
- Start by standing straight, feet opened hip-width apart, engage your core and slightly bend your knees
- Take the dumbbell in one hand first, taking it back to your head
- Hold the dumbbell from the top, keeping the hand at a 45-degree angle, and your palm facing the ceiling
- Slowly, exhale and lower down your arm, going farther behind your back, feeling the stretch in the triceps, ensuring straight neck and back
- Once you reach a 90-degree angle with your elbow, bring your hand back up from where you started, completing one rep
Benefits of Triceps Extensions
Triceps extensions, just like the bicep curls, are a single joint workout that helps grow your triceps while isolating the muscles.
Moving around objects and lifting heavy weights requires you to have strong triceps. This strong triceps help stabilize the shoulder and elbow joints, which helps perform athletic activities better, such as swimming, playing tennis, and throwing. Having strong triceps is also essential for stabilizing the arm to perform fine motor skills better, such as writing.
Apart from this, having strong triceps adds to the arm’s beauty. As we grow older, the upper arm area can seem loose and flabby. Exercising and strengthening the triceps can help you get better definition in your arms so that you can walk around with beautifully sculpted muscles.
Triceps Extension Variations
Skull crushers are one of the most stimulating exercises for the triceps to work out your upper arm.
- For this exercise, lie down on the bench, keeping your feet firmly on the ground, and hold dumbbells in each hand
- Keeping your hands open shoulder-width apart, lift them straight up, with palms facing inside
- Keep your elbows steady and lower down your arms until they are at a 90-degree angle
- Straighten out your arms, back to their position, completing one rep
- Continue on the exercise for 12-15 reps
Standing Bent-Over Dumbbell Triceps Extension
The Standing Bent-Over Dumbbell Triceps Extension helps you strengthen your upper body and range of motion while improving your shoulder flexibility and stability.
- Start with dumbbells in each hand and keeping the knees slightly bent
- Engage your core and hinge forward onto your waist while keeping the back straight
- Keeping the arms close by your sides, bend your elbows, bringing the dumbbells by your chest
- Next, start the exercise by straightening your forearms behind your back, keeping your upper arm steady
- Once you start to feel the burn, bring back the arms into their original position, by your chest
- Repeat this exercise for 12-15 reps
Triceps Bench Dips
Triceps box dips improve your stability, boost metabolism, and reduce your risk of injury during sports.
- Start by sitting on the floor, keeping your feet together and with a box behind your back
- Place your palms on the box, with fingers facing forward
- Straighten your arms, lifting your hips in the air
- Bend your arms back, and lower yourself down, without letting your hips touch the floor, completing one rep
- Continue for 10-12 reps
Common Mistakes with Triceps Extensions
The following are the most common mistakes when it comes to working your triceps.
1. The most common error made when working out the triceps is head movement. When you’re lifting the dumbbells over your head, and you don’t have any back or shoulder flexibility, most often than not, you will end up bending your head forward.
For triceps extensions specifically, it is important to keep your entire body aligned and only move your forearms. If you’re still unable to keep your head steady, try doing the exercise with lighter dumbbells and progress towards heavier weights slowly.
2. The second most common error is not reaching a complete 90-degree angle. This mistake is made because you want to power through your reps quickly and don’t have enough tricep strength to go all the way to 90 degrees.
If you want to achieve good results and don’t want to strain your muscles, you have to make sure that you make it to a 90-degree angle in one controlled motion. Your lowering and lifting should take an equal amount of time so that your triceps are getting the proper workout. Have a friend or trainer monitor your moves, use less weight, or start with fewer reps to avoid this error.
3. The third most common slip-up while exercising your triceps is not keeping your elbows steady. When doing elbow extension and flexion exercises, you tend to let your elbows move forward, shifting the pressure away from the triceps.
Bending the elbows forward and away from your ears can cause you to shift the weight and hinder the isolated triceps workout. To avoid these errors, use lighter weights and gradually work up to heavier weights.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Bicep and Tricep Workouts
Okay, so now that we know the key exercises that build biceps and triceps effectively and how to do them. We also covered how to avoid any blunders that can hinder your upper arm growth. Here is how you can get the most out of your workouts.
An arm blaster is an incredible tool to enhance your workout results and avoid cheating on your exercises. An arm blaster helps you isolate your muscles properly and focus on lifting weights your arms can. It ensures that you exercise your upper arms in a smooth range of motion to avoid strain on your muscles. When you focus on your workout, creating a mind and muscle connection, the muscles get worked up better and enhance your results.
Apart from this, adding an arm blaster to your upper arm workout ensures that you are not just exercising your arms but engaging your core and maintaining the right posture as well.
Safety and Precautions for Biceps and Triceps Workout
Even though the exercises that build biceps and triceps are very basic and can be done by anyone, there are some precautions and safety tips to keep in your mind so you don’t end up getting hurt.
When you start to exercise the upper arms, you will feel some burning sensation in your muscles, be it triceps or biceps, but this should not hinder your movement. If you feel that you cannot continue the exercise in the right form, stop at once because you don’t want to get hurt.
If you have an arm injury, don’t try to work around it without consulting a doctor. Trying to workout with an injury could hinder your exercising posture and cause your injury to worsen. Listen to your body when exercising and do not overdo it. Anything more than your body can handle can cause you serious injuries and force you to stop working out altogether.
Lastly, when exercising your triceps specifically, do not try lifting excessive weight without any one around. Rely on a trainer or workout partner. You need to have someone to make sure you don’t get stuck in a position that you could hurt yourself in.
A Word On Nutrition
You could do all of the exercises that build biceps and triceps, but without fueling your body to repair and build those muscles, you won’t have much success in building the arms you want. When exercising to achieve the healthiest body form, we most often forget to take in the proper nutrients. This is the one thing that can cause serious hurdles to achieve the perfect body.
If you’re not giving your body the fuel it needs, your muscle growth journey will come to a halt eventually.
Look into the following pointers to ensure you are giving your body everything it needs to build a strong beautiful body.
According to the research, an average person must take 1.4gm to 1.8gm of protein per pound of bodyweight to build muscles. In addition, research show that this protein intake augmented with creatine powder promotes muscle growth.
Such supplements are made to help you reach your everyday nutrient goal. These supplements can enhance muscle mass and strength, increase energy and speed. They can also support quick muscle recovery, improve your ability to perform HIIT, increase lean muscles, and much more.
The ideal creatine powder supplement will contain 5g creatine monohydrate per serving, so your muscle needs the fuel they need to grow.
Adding complex carbohydrates
Just like other nutrients, eating carbs is also essential for your body. These carbs provide you with energy and nourishment so that you can power through your training.
Complex carbs include grain bread, oats, brown rice, potatoes, corn, green peas, etc.
Avoid simple carbs
Avoid taking any simple carbs and sugar as they only add calories to your diet and bring you no energy level. These simple ’empty’ carbs are sugary drinks, cookies, candies, etc.
Eat Healthy Fats
Do not remove any food group! Read the last line again. Yes, when you’re clean eating, it is extremely important to ensure that you don’t remove any food group. They all have some or the other purpose in your health. If you skip fats from your diet, the body will burn the protein we don’t want. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, peanut butter, olive oil, etc.
Don’t skip calories
Dieting does not mean you have to eat less than the required calories; it simply means to eat mindfully and enough calories to survive through your training. Check your BMR and eat accordingly. If you’re consuming too low calories, you will ruin your strength training and won’t see any results.
To build a strong upper body, you must do exercises that build biceps and triceps one to three times per week. Start with fewer weights and try to do 12 – 15 reps, maintaining correct posture. Once your body is able to perform these exercises easily, that is your cue to move to heavier weights.
Adding an arm blaster can be the best thing you do for yourself because it will help you isolate and target your biceps and triceps in the best way to reach your goals quickly.
While exercise is important, fueling your body with sufficient calories and required nutrients is also very important. Using supplements like protein or creatine powder can help you take a step forward in your fitness regime, so you can start seeing your results rapidly.