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    Anchorman was a fun film, in the original the lead characters’ obsession with ‘big guns,’ is something I’ve encountered a great deal as a personal trainer. The fabulous thing is, getting big arms is simple if you go about it the right way. What does big actually mean. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps measured an astonishing 55 centimetres (22 inches) at the peak of both his career and bicep muscle.


    Building your biceps

    When thinking about massive arms the average Joe will be talking about the biceps. This muscle is a two headed muscle and is at the top of the upper arm. Biceps take up only a third of the upper arm, so getting big arms is more than just having bulging biceps. Writing an article about upper arm exercises is one of the easier tasks as most people that have set foot in a gym will know the most basic exercises.

    Bicep curls

    The bicep curl being the most basic but effective routine. When using a bar advanced trainers go for the EZ version. This bar places the wrists at a better angle, preventing increased risk of injury.  Dumbbells tend to be more effective at symmetrical growth as if you’re right handed and using a bar, the right bicep can slightly take over the workload. Dumbbells ensure the effort is equal in each arm.

    Placing the bicep under stress and challenging the muscle can be achieved by sitting on an incline bench and performing alternating dumbbell curls. For growth the repetitions should not exceed eight.  Three sets of this would get the bicep pumped and if you are advanced then getting maybe 3 reps at 90% of one rep max would be a great target. Hammer curls change the angle of attack on the bicep and these three extremely basic movements will see the bicep respond. To further hit the bicep, the curls could eventually be performed on the preacher bench. This stops the body throwing the weight forward and keeps the intensity localised on the bicep.

    Tempo makes a difference

    Using your body’s momentum to throw the weights up is an acceptable cheat when you are working in that fashion but at the early stages of bicep growth it is preferable to use a slow and controlled tempo. Tempo can be 4,0,4,0 or something close to this. Tempo is often overlooked and I would guess readers on this website are well versed in how changes in tempo completely change the outcome of the session. The bicep brachialis lies beneath the main bicep and is vastly under discussed in most forums. The wonderful peak that developed biceps can exhibit is largely down to correct attention to working the brachialis. The three exercises above, with correct tempo and no cheated reps will bring about the peaks.

    As a guest writing I’m tied to a word limit. Hopefully my next contribution will allow me to move onto working the triceps and then lastly the forearms. Arms need constant work to keep them looking full and peaked. It takes half as long to gain muscle as it does to lose it. So make sure when you get to the gym you maximise your time there and get those big guns blasted.


    Stephen is a level 3 qualified personal trainer and a registered massage therapist. For more details please check out the PTM Fitness website.