The 5 Biggest Myths About Building Big Arms

Published on October 7th, 2020

High reps with low weight? Low reps with high weight? Circuit training or reps to failure? You’ve got questions. Chicagoland Men’s Health has answers. Read full article below:


This is not only an outright lie but quite on the contrary, utilizing a high-rep scheme is an excellent way to build big arms. When we say high reps we think about doing 15-20 reps per set. When you do isolation movements like biceps curls or triceps pushdowns, it is best if you don’t go below 12 reps per set. But that’s just a suggestion. You can train in every rep range you choose. Anything between 6-20 reps works.



This is completely false and needs to be debunked. If you walked into any gym in the country and looked around you would see a lot of guys doing tons of curls and pushdowns and yet they still have tiny arms. As with the big muscle groups, it’s recommended that you train your arms with heavy, compound movements as well. That’s the fastest way to pack on muscle mass. You build big arms with pull-ups/chin-ups, dips, and push-ups.



This may sound a bit contradictory to the previous myth on our list, but just because isolation exercises shouldn’t be the focus of your training program, doesn’t mean they are entirely useless. If building big arms is what you’re after, then you can dedicate 10% of your workout on isolation movements. For example, for every nine sets of chin-ups, you can do a single set of barbell curls. That’s a 90/10 ratio. And there’s something important to point out here. The more muscle mass you have, the more isolation training you’re allowed to do. That’s because there’s a genetic limit to how big you can get.

If you’re skinny and you still have a long way to go when it comes to building muscle, then your primary focus should be compound movements to build muscle mass as fast as possible.

If you’ve been training seriously for less than 2 years, you can do the 90/10 split. If you’ve been lifting for 3-5 years, then you can go for an 80/20 split. If you are a hulk and have been lifting for more than 6 years, you can change this ratio to 60/40, meaning for every 6 sets of chin-ups you can do 4 sets of barbell curls. The conclusion is that the more experienced you are, the more benefit you can get from isolation work.


Even though training with a high volume can help you build big arms, it’s not necessary. Why is that? Because the muscles comprising the arm, the biceps and triceps are small muscles and do not need a big amount of stimulation in order to grow. If you train with too much volume, you could prevent them from recovering properly.



Full-body training has become very popular in recent years and it’s a great way to build muscle all over your body. But it’s not a great way to build huge arms. You need a specialized training program that would specifically target your arms. The most important thing you need to remember when it comes to building big arms is that training frequency is key.

Your primary focus should be on stimulating the muscles as often as possible within a time frame in which you allow your muscle to properly recover. That’s why if you want to build big arms you need to target them intensely and frequently. Here’s a sample workout you could try that employs both full-body training principles with an emphasis on arms:



Pull-ups 3 sets to failure

Dips  3 sets to failure

Barbell Squats  3 sets x 15-20 reps


Tuesday – Off



Cable Rows  3 sets x 8-12 reps

Push Ups  3 sets to failure

Hack Squats  3 sets x 15-20 reps


Thursday – Off



Pull-ups  3 sets to failure

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Barbell Curls  3 sets x 12-15 reps

Triceps Pressdowns  3 sets x 12-15 reps

Goblet Squats  1 sets x 20 reps
Saturday – Off

Sunday – Off

As you can see, with this program you’re targeting your arms three times a week, with both pushing and pulling movements. You can also see there isn’t too much volume in a single workout, but it’s a lot of volume which is evenly spread out over the entire week into less intense workouts.

Source: Fitness & Power

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