Everyone has one side of the body more developed than the other, and this means having more strength in one arm than the other. In this article we will talk about how to train weaker arm.
Big arm is undoubtedly one symbol of bodybuilding, even more so for the average user, in fact the improvements in this context are measured by the biggest arm and not by the most voluminous legs.
The esoteric symbolism of bodybuilding has launched a race to the big arms, who unfortunately finds himself with an unfavourable genetics in that district is seen as a half Bodybuilder.
Can people who have such bad luck solve definitively or at least try to bridge the gap with other muscles?
To have an answer to this question, it is important to analyse, first, the major causes that can lead to muscle deficiencies:
- Postural problems
- Errors in execution technique
- Wrong choice of exercises
- Incorrect volume and frequency modulation
- Unfavourable genetics
How To Train Weaker Arm
Where To Start From
For arm training, usually the problem lies in the last 2 points. This is because the training of biceps and triceps does not have such a marked technical rate, despite this in the weight rooms exercises such as curl dumbbell and push down are perpetually performed poorly.
As far as the technical part is concerned, I suggest you to have a look by a prepared trainer who will correct all ballistic imperfections.
Performing an exercise badly leads to work at 50%, this is because you can not “transform” the external load into internal load and to better activate the target muscle.
If our muscle is weak, only 20-30% of the work will be successful.
(Take these percentages for what they are, there is no scientific study behind).
Here are some technical tips for biceps training:
- Prefer dumbbells with barbells (especially EZ) or bars.
- Tilt your trunk forward during standing curls;
- Perform extra supination when closing the movement;
- Move your hand on the handlebars until your thumb touches the disc;
- If using modular handlebars, put 1-2kg more on the side of the handlebar where the little finger is;
- Try to use the supine grip more in back work so you can also use the indirect work;
- Limit to the maximum, the cheating typical of standing curl, does nothing but “deliver” work to other muscles stealing it from the biceps.
The triceps are instead a muscle that works in thrust and the synergy with several other districts will be a double-edged sword, in fact their characteristic allows both to help during the thrust raises but also that it is “stolen” of the work by synergistic muscles such as chest and deltoids.
Common consideration provides that “big arms” immediately refers to the biceps, wrong view. In fact, it is not the biceps to give a voluminous arm, but the triceps.
For this reason, if you want to fill the sleeves of t-shirts, always give it a special attention.
Once we have found out that the technique is optimal there is only one thing to do with your arms: train them!
Arm Training Options
The shrewdness to take, after fixing the technique, are primarily three:
- Muscle priority
- Training Variations
- Suitable arm training frequency and volume
What does it mean to give priority to a muscle? It means that, in this case, we should train the arms at the beginning of the week and especially as the first muscle of the workout.
All this so you can train them from rest with the maximum physical and mental energy to devote to them.
In this way we will avoid the psycho-physical fatigue of a week of work or the scarce energy because of other exercises, in fact by doing so we will compromise the hypertrophic development, the security of execution and the physical energy to devote to specific training.
In the training of weak triceps, the muscle priority is fundamental. In fact, a pre-fatigue before training chest and / or shoulders is a must or will run into the problems described above.
Until a few years ago, but still many coaches are convinced like that. It was believed that the optimal range of repetitions to create hypertrophy was the intermediate one of 6-12 repetitions.
From the latest scientific evidence, however, all repetitions cause hypertrophy, both low (1-5), high (12-15) and very high (from 15 on).
In short, Hatfield over 30 years ago had seen us well…
Based on this, it will be necessary to target the muscle that is considered deficient with as many stimuli as possible. I suggest starting from two “macro-stimuli”:
- a mechanical one with medium-low repetitions
- a metabolic one with high repetitions.
- All this within the weekly micro cycle.
The arms have an optimal range ranging from 6/8 to 20 repetitions.
Another factor that I always take into account is that of working them with exercises of both maximum contraction and maximum elongation, possibly in the same session, respecting part of the principles of the P.O.F. method. (Position Of Flexion).
- Spider curl with handlebars (maximum contraction exercise)
- Curl on 45° bench with handlebars (maximum elongation exercise)
- Push down to cables (maximum shrinkage operation)
- French press with EZ rocker arm on declined bench (maximum elongation exercise)
Small tips. To be sure to stretch one of your muscles to the maximum, you must contract the antagonist.
For example, if you are performing a curl with dumbbells and, at the eccentric end, you want to stretch your biceps you will have to contract the triceps.
Ensuring as many repetitions and training stimulation as possible will only benefit the hypertrophy of your arms.
Suitable Arm Training Frequency And Volume
I tell you in advance that training your deficient arms once a week will not make them grow. Training them several times a week is undoubtedly the right way to go.
Frequency, in deficient muscles, is a vitally important parameter; the more you train, the more you increase your chances of recovering volume.
We come to what I think is the second most important variable in this context: volume.
My advice is to start from the volume you are using and increase it by a serial number that can go from 1 to 6 every 2-6 weeks until you reach a total number of sets that will give you results.
Normally, during specialisations, I would recommend keeping the other muscles in maintenance or a little more.
The arms, however, having two small districts require neither too much energy or too much time for their training, so they could run in parallel with another muscle group, even better if it is small too.
The upper limbs also lend themselves effortlessly to various training intensification techniques
The ones I use most are the Jump Sets and Super Sets, both antagonists and non-antagonists, these tools allow you to increase work density, intensifying metabolic stress and thus shortening the timing of the single session when maintaining high volumes.
Let’s see one of the many practical examples referring to all the notions explained above. Let’s suppose a training set on 4 days a week, a classic push-traction or upper-lower.
Arm Training Program
Curl with barbell 4×8
in Jump Set with
French Press with rocker arm EZ 4×8
Rest of the programme
Curl with handlebars on bench 90° 4×10
In Jump Set with
Dip between benches 4×10
Rest of the programme…
Curl with handlebars on bench 45° 3×12
In Super Set with
Spider curl with handlebars on bench 30° 3×12
PJR 3×12 pullover
In Super Set with
Push down to 3×12 cables
Rest of the programme…
Curl with handlebars on bench 60° 3×15
In super set with
Bayesian Curl 3×15
Extensions behind the back of the neck to the low 3×15 cable
In Super set with
Kick back with 3×15 handlebars