Arm day is constantly dubbed every guy’s favorite day in the gym, perhaps second only to training chest. As a longtime pro bodybuilder, though, I think most guys are guilty of overtraining their arms—giving them far more volume than they need to grow—and just as many women undertrain theirs.
This is unfortunate! To many women are fixated on how to lose arm fat, rather than building the arms they want with strategic, well-designed workouts. Instagram might convince you to emphasize training only your lower body and abs, but overall muscle development is essential! And if you’ve been struggling for years to get that first pull-up, training your arms can definitely play a part in getting there.
Got your attention? Then let’s get serious about biceps and triceps workouts for women!
Arm Yourself with Education
Biceps: The biceps brachii and the brachialis are the two big muscles on the front part of the upper arm. The name comes from the Latin ”biceps” meaning ”two heads” and “brachii” meaning “of the arm.” The two heads are generally known as the long head and short head of the biceps.
The biceps brachii has two functions. The first is to bend or ”flex” the elbow, like when you pop that biceps pose. The second is rotation of the forearm, which is why coaches often cue to rotate a weight as you curl it.
The brachialis sits deep between the triceps and the biceps and is targeted by classic arm exercises like hammer curls and reverse curls. When developed, the brachialis can push the triceps and biceps apart, making the arm look bigger. As it pushes the biceps higher, it can add to the peak of the muscle.
Training at home? Arm your gym with a complete set of dumbbells and reap the benefits daily.
Triceps: The three heads of the triceps are the long head, the lateral head, and the medial (deep) head. As women age, we tend to hold more body fat in this area, making triceps development more of a priority as the years pass.
The long head of the triceps sits right in that troublesome posterior part of the upper arm. So, while the guys might focus on the horseshoe shape and thickness that develops the lateral head, women may want to prioritize long head exercises.
In doing this, it’s important to remember that shoulder extension is ideal for long head activation. This means any exercise where the arm goes behind the body, such as in a triceps kick-back or a single-arm cable push-down. It also means keeping your form as perfect as possible on any overhead extension or dip.
Do I Need an Arm Day?
As a rule, for the first year of serious lifting, it’s great to partner arm exercises with a larger muscle group. This could mean full upper-body workouts, or classic pairings like back-and-biceps and chest-and-triceps or shoulders-and-triceps. These approaches are popular because they work! They give you enough stimulus to grow without overdoing it and risking a tendon injury—which takes a long time to heal and is a common curse of the newbie lifter.
Show off the guns you’re building with a new tank!
A high-volume pump-fest arm workout isn’t complete without a pre-workout!