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The Complete Guide to Growing your Arms

Links mentioned in the video: 
The Path to your Goal Physique
The Greek God Program

Arm training is probably the most misunderstood part of working out. Actually no, ab training is the most misunderstood part of working out but arms are definitely close in second place.

In every gym you find the same thing: All guys religiously train biceps and triceps and yet only a handful of them have impressive arms. I always found that puzzling.

Nobody skips arm day so why doesn’t everyone have big guns?

The answer is very simple: Arm development very rarely goes ahead of chest and back development. For your arms to get bigger, your whole upper body needs to get bigger, especially your chest and back.

The Role of Compound Movements for Arm Size

The guys with great arms almost always have great back and chest development as well. You never see skinny guys with huge arms:

big arms on skinny guy

I photoshoped a big arm on this skinny model and it clearly looks unnatural. 

This means that before you worry about arm size, you need to make sure your back and chest and growing.

If you add 60 lbs to your incline bench press, your triceps will be bigger. If you build up to 80lbs weighted chin-ups for reps your biceps can’t be small. But if your big lifts stay the same, curls and triceps extensions will only increase arm size a little bit.

Some people may not even need direct arm training to stimulate their growth. Getting very strong on weighted chin-ups, deadlift, bench press and shoulder press inevitably develops your arms as well.

An example that comes to mind is Martin Berkhan of Leangains. He hasn’t curled since 2001 and yet his biceps grew very well from weighted chins, heavy rows, and deadlifts:

Martin Berkhan arms

Now, while progressing on your compound lifts is the most important factor, most guys definitely need direct arm work to maximize their development.

I actually tried not training arms at all in the past, following Martin’s example. I made some arm gains because of weighted chin-ups and presses but as soon as I added direct training in my routine, I noticed an immediate improvement. My biceps and triceps filled out in just a few weeks.

How to Train your Arms for Growth

Biceps and triceps are like any other muscle group. The hierarchy of importance for their development is this:

Most guys focus on exercise selection, rest periods and tempo – the things that are actually least important for progress.

In order for arms to grow, they need to get stronger – progressive overload is by far the biggest cause of muscle growth. Adding 5lbs to the bar will increase muscle size much more than feeling the burn or getting a pump.

The way you drive progressive overload is by intelligently setting your volume, intensity and frequency of training.

A Simple Formula for Muscle Growth

A muscle group needs around 40-100 heavy reps per week in order to grow and get stronger. But your biceps and triceps are heavily involved in any type of pressing or pushing movement. This means they get more than half of the required volume from your compound lifts.

Therefore, the right volume and intensity for arms would be this:

Volume: 30-60 reps per week
Intensity: 6-12 reps per set 

When volume and intensity are set correctly, strength progression happens almost automatically. And those strength gains will translate into muscle growth.

When applying this formula remember that the heavier your train, the lower the volume you can handle each week. If you train with weights you can do 6-10 reps per set do 30-40 reps per week. If you train in the 8-12 rep range, do 50-60 reps per week.

It’s really that simple.

Success is the natural consequence of applying basic fundamentals. Don’t fall in the super-drop-giant-set mentality when training arms. Don’t fall for the idea that slow negatives will drastically improve results. Don’t follow the guys that make all sorts of weird noises when doing biceps curls…

When in doubt about training, consult the pyramid graph above. The right Volume, Intensity and Frequency is what will enable Progression and you will be on your way to a jacked physique.

Routine Examples

A Novice Routine might look like this:

Workout A

  • Incline Bench Press – 5 x 5
  • Barbell Row/Lat Pulldowns – 5 x 5 (You do these until you can do bodyweight chin-ups)
  • Dips – 3 x 8
  • Biceps Curls – 3 x 10-12

Workout B

  • Squat / Sumo Deadlift – 5 x 5
  • Reverse Dumbbell Lunges: 3 x 6-8 reps per leg
  • Standing One Leg DB Calf Raises: 3 x 10-15 reps
  • Abs Wheel Roll Outs: 3 sets x 10 reps

An Intermediate Routine might look like this:

Workout A

  • Incline Bench Press – 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 Reverse Pyramid Training
  • Seated DB Shoulder Press – 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
  • Cable Pushdown – 3 x 10 Straight Sets
  • Lateral Raises – 3 x 12 Straight Sets

Workout B

  • Weighted Pull-ups – 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
  • Sumo Deadlift – 4-6, 6-8 (RPT)
  • Reverse Dumbbell Lunges: 3 x 6-8 reps per leg
  • Barbell Curls: 3 x 10 Straight Sets
  • Bent Over Flyes: 3  x 12 Straight Sets

Notes on the Workout:

With an A/B split you do each workout every other day, like this:
Week 1: Monday – Workout A, Wednesday – Workout B, Friday – Workout A
Week 2: Monday – Workout B, Wednesday – Workout A, Friday – Workout B

With reverse pyramid training you’re going to perform your heaviest set first when you’re completely fresh and then pyramid down to a lighter weight usually with more reps, for the latter sets. Click here to learn how to implement it.

For Straight Sets when you hit the required reps for all sets, increase the weight on all sets the following workout. This will probably cause you to lose 1 or 2 reps in the last 2 sets. That’s normal and the goal for the following workout is to add back the reps in those last sets so you can increase the weight again.

Rest a full three minutes in between sets for the compound movements. Rest 60-90 seconds for the assistance exercises.

Stop one rep before failure. Failure in this context is when you cannot lift the weight for one more rep without help and without severely compromising form.

The Best Exercises for Arms

As long as you do the right amount of heavy reps per week, you’ll see progress doing almost any exercises. But the most effective would be these:

Biceps Exercises

  • Primary : Barbell Curls, Dumbbell Curls, E-Z Bar Curls, Hammer Curls 

Usually, the exercises that allow you to lift the most amount of weight are the most effective for growth. For this reason, barbell and dumbbell curls are probably the best all around biceps builders you can do.

  • For Higher Rep work : Incline Dumbbell Curls, Machine Curls, Preacher Curls, Cable Curls & Others

For higher rep training do exercises that isolate the biceps and allow a long range of motion. Incline dumbbell curls are very effective because your arms are locked to the sides and your back is flat against the bench. It is in this position that you are unable to use any back swing, the biceps are forced to work in isolation.

Triceps Exercises

  • Primary : Lying Triceps Extensions, Skull Crushers, Dips*, Close Grip Bench Press*

Again, the more weight you can lift through a range of motion, the more effective the exercise probably is.

Skull crushers hit the triceps very hard and allow for regular loading in weight. For this reason skull crushers are the main triceps movement in the Greek God Program. As with barbell curls, you can build up to 135+ lbs for reps. This is a killer exercise and will translate to better pushing strength, most specifically in the lock out.

*Dips and Close Grip Bench Press are great exercises for building your triceps but they also hit the chest and shoulders very hard. For this reason you must intelligently fit them in your program. For example if you already do a lot of work for chest it’s probably better to do Skull Crushers for triceps instead of Dips or Close Grip Bench.

  • For Higher Rep work : Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Press, Rope Pushdowns & Other Extensions 

When doing higher rep work it’s best to use less technical exercises so you can train your muscle to exhaustion safely. Also, you need exercises that are easy to overload.

Remember, it’s not just doing the exercises, it’s progressing on them. Strength is what leads to size.

A Full Podcast on Arm Training

If you want more information, check out this interview I did with Greg on the topic of arm training:

Kinobody Greek God ProgramThe Program that built my physique

The training program I used for the last two years, and still use right now, is the Greek God Program. The routines you saw in this article come from this program.

At first glance you would think it includes far to little volume to trigger muscle growth but that’s not true. Greg designed this program to develop your upper body proportionately.

The main focus is gaining strength on a few key exercises. Because when you reach certain standards of strength, your muscle mass will be developed as well.

I highly recommend you check out this program. You can also see my one year transformation with it here.


  1. Adrian Androne on March 29, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Buna Radu. Urmaresc cu atentie tot ceea ce postezi dar sunt vorbitor de romana si franceza ?. M as bucura sa inteleg mai mult

  2. criss on March 29, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Dah!! e in engleza, ca daca scrii in româneste nu-ti mai creste bratul sau cealalta varianta defapt iei articole din strainatate si le postezi si le zici la toti cit esti de tare dar nu te preocupa plagiatul e la nivel inalt in România. Continua tot asa ,bravo!!!

    • Radu Antoniu on March 29, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Scriu in engleza pentru ca asa contentul poate fi urmarit in toata lumea.

  3. Christian on March 29, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    How many of these exercises do you pick? Just one to supplement your normal training right?

    So I can pick Barbell curls and skullcrushers only?

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Depends on your routine. But yes, one arm exercise is usually enough if you do a 2 day split.

  4. Dan on March 31, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Daca ceea ce o sa scrii in continuare, nu va fi in romana, cel putin din partea mea o sa primesti “eject”. Lasa-i pe cei de afara, ca ii au si ei pe ai lor! (daca ii intereseaza asa mult, sa-si traduca; adica ne ignori pe noi cei multi si te gandesti la ei!)
    Cu stima!

  5. Louis on March 31, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Radu,
    First thanks for your blog and youtube channel it’s really good. I had 2 questions for you: Is it ok if i do Intermittent fasting only on the rest days ? because sometimes my perfs at the gym are not as good as possible if i don’t eat in the morning. And second I was thinking how a romanian guy becomes partner of a guy from Toronto ? I mean what’s your story with Greg ? Your partnership is great and very helpful but i’m curious to know how this happened
    Oh and by the way I’m French so you’re followed in France, isn’t it amazing ? ahah

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hey Louis!
      Thanks man!
      1. Yes, you can do IF only on rest days
      2. I tell the story in this video.

      France is an awesome country. I loved Strasbourg !!

  6. Amit on April 2, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Forgive me for posting like this, but only way I could get your attention and get some help from someone who knows what they’re doing!

    I’ve been following a program called The Hollywood Physique (now discontinued).
    For 3 months – it was essentially INSANELY intense pump training and incline cardio (in the gym 10-12 times a week) and I could only eat chicken thighs, eggs and mega-load on green veggies, and add in some optional veggies. (I can share the EXACT program if you want to see)

    Anyway, fast forward 3 months of this insanity and sulfur farts – , I lost loads of fat, small waist (I’ve got 30.5 waist at 68 inch height), but I can (kinda) see my abs in very good lighting, and I had (some) muscle growth, but nothing brilliant (perhaps I had to go MORE intense?) I’ve estimated my bodyfat is maybe around 14-15%.

    Sorry for ranting, the main issues I have are:

    (1)Since I still cannot see my abs, but am basically, lacking muscle, should I do Warrior Shredding, or Greek God? Do I eat in calorie deficit, maintenance or surplus?

    (2) I am way under the weight that Greg advocates for a 5’8 male (160lbs) I only weight around 130 lbs ( I know pretty damn low)

    (3) I loved your The-Path-to-your-Goal-Physique PDF. However, I’m unsure if I’m more skinny than fat, or equally skinny and fat. Kinda depends on lighting and angles. Its also skewed as I had gynacomastia surgery a few years ago, so i have ZERO fat on my chest, and could probably never gain fat there.

    ARGGGHHH Rant over, look forward to getting a reply.

    If you need any pics just ask, I can show you how I started and where I finished.

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      Hey Amit!

      1. I recommend Greek God. You are lean you just probably need more muscle mass.
      2. Yes, you should do a lean bulk now.
      3. I’d say you are more skinny than fat. You should follow a mass gaining program.

  7. Dutt Patel on April 4, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Radu Keep up the good work. I need your help. I am 17 years old and i weight at 144.2 pounds. I want to get shredded. My maintanance is 1800 calories and to lose one pound i need to consume 1300 calories. Please help this will starve me. I also use intermittent fasting. But still have seen minimal results. Please help me on my cut some advice will do it such as caloric intake and cardio.
    Thank you

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Hey Dutt!

      You can do 3 hours of cardio per week in order to get your calorie expenditure up. This will allow you to eat more food.

  8. Armanda Peet on April 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Un loser care da copy/paste la programe de bodybuilding si el arata ca aschia. Nu mai plagia copile materiale si apuca-te de sala si dupa 5 ani deschide inapoi canalul de youtube. Esti patetic..

    • Alex on June 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Nicăieri nu am văzut mai pregnantă argumentația ad-hominem ca în acest sport (ridicatul de greutăți, bodybuilding, culturism, sau cum vrei să-i numești). Presupunând că Radu ar arăta ca un schelet, asta nu ar avea nici o legătură cu valabilitatea sau adevărul a ceea ce afirmă.

      Cât despre plagiat, din ce am citit în articole, dă întotdeauna link-uri și specifică sursele. Chiar dacă se inspiră din alte lucrări, ceea ce e normal, că doar nu trebuie să reinventeze roata, o face într-o manieră și interpretare personală, nu însușindu-și munca altora.

  9. Nicholas Paul on May 24, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Quick question, why do I get stretch marks on my arm and how do I avoid them? Thanks!

  10. Saurav on May 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Hey Radu,
    Loving the videos man, keep it up.
    Im 16, 183 cm and about 153 pounds. I was really overweight when i was a kid. Right now I’ve managed to lean down from about 20 pounds in over a year without serious dieting but just simple maintainence.
    I realized that im starting to be a little too skinny at the moment but i still am a pund or two of fat away till i see my abs.
    Would it be better to start weight training right now or wait until i can get to a low body fat percentage and only then start lifting?
    I’ve also done a lot of body wight exercises but i havent notice any gains in muscle size.
    What are your views on body weight exercises aka. pilates etc.

  11. jason on June 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Hi i am trying to loose my belly fat and i am doing fastin at the moment and have a calorie deficite but i am 15 years old and i cant lift weghts on gym what else should i do to replace weight lifts and what elses should i do to burn my belly fat?

  12. jason on June 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Hi radu

    I just wanted to ask you
    i am 15 years old and i only do dumbells for straingth so if i do more dumbell exercises my muscle will absorb fat or general calories whie the exercise?

    i hope you recover soon from the surgery and make videos

  13. Shivam on June 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Seriously your efforts , hard work and dedication levels are highly appericiable and i am glad to find your vlogs, they are very good and provide more than sufficient info(specially the technical information). about fitness. I too joined your Greek god program and i found it very good . I am just a beginner in fitness things.
    I would like to have your advice on the following-
    I am 5ft 10 inches almost.My body weight is about 73kg.I dont have very much fat in my body but i have some extra fat laye in my chest . Its not man boobs . Actually the size i snot very big nor too small. It feels like extra fat in my chest . And also a bit in my belly( bot very much).I am doing the workouts as shown in the video of greek god program (Workout A and Workout B as mentioned in the program.).What should i do to get my chest fixed .I am pretty sure its not gyno.

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