Looking to build stronger, thicker arms? Bodybuilder and YouTube fitness personality Zac Perna has just the ticket. In a recent YouTube video, the Gymshark athlete shared a quintet of tips that are designed to build bigger biceps and triceps, all in the format of a “huge arm workout”.
“I’m going to show you a typical arm workout by itself, says Perna, a fitness model and trainer. “If your arms are a weak point, maybe it’s a good idea to hit them more frequently…everyone wants bigger arms, so everyone’s going to benefit from the tips.”
Before sharing his tips, Perna walks you through a few lifting non-negotiables. These include making time to warm-up before each set, taking each working set to failure, controlling weekly volume and making sure you’re lifting with proper form. Got those mastered? Good. Let’s get to the fun stuff:
Pick an exercise to overload on
“The whole point of doing any exercise is to slowly get stronger and better over time,” says Perna. “I usually start with a dumbbell preacher curl or the cable [curl]. Lately, I’m loving the cable curls for the sake of warming up as you can slowly add weight, it feels better on the joints, it’s easy to warm-up and I get a better pump doing it this way.”
Focus on squeezing the muscle
“Focus on squeezing the muscle. Don’t just move it from A to B,” advises Perna, using a tricep rope pushdown as an example, making sure to emphasise the squeeze through his triceps. “That applies to every move we’re doing. I’m not actively trying to separate the ropes. I’m just trying to squeeze my triceps.”
Make sure to reset
“Reset at the bottom and don’t use momentum to get it back up again,” says Perna of his third tip for bigger arms, using a preacher curl as an example. At the bottom of the rep, Perna makes sure to pause before reversing the movement and squeezing upwards. “You can apply this to any exercise,” he says, explaining how novice lifters often rely on momentum for “half” the rep.
Train the forearms
Having a strong set of biceps and triceps next door to a set of weaker forearms is a lifting faux-pas. Using hammer curls as an example, Perna reminds the viewer to keep shoulders back and down while squeezing the dumbbell in order to activate more muscle fibres. Then, Perna hits a tri-set — hammer curls, wrist curls and cable pushdowns — for two sets.
Don’t skip pump work
“Towards the end of the workout, you’ve already done your main exercise and you’ve tried to progressively overload,” says Perna. “Now, it’s just about getting the biggest pump possible. What I like to do is some sort of intensity technique, whether that’s a drop-set we can do with incline curls or a rest-pause set, which we’ll do with a tricep overhead extension. Or, any other intensity-focused technique that forces you to push a little bit harder.” This, Perna explains, helps emphasise metabolic stress. He reps out a set of incline curls using 12kg dumbbells and, when he hits failure, drops to 7kg and keeps going before hitting partial (half-way) reps.
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