Am I Overtraining My Biceps and Triceps When I Workout?

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question-icon-newMy current workout routine has me training arms 2-3 times a week. The usual duration of my workout is around an hour and a half. My triceps are showing good development but my arm size is only 13.5 inches. I want to add some size and get them to around 14.5 inches. Can you check out my arm workout routine and let me know if it looks good? Should I focus on any particular exercise or more on the repetitions and weight being used? If you recommend modifying my workout, it would be nice if you could tell me which particular exercises I should focus on doing. My typical workout is as follows:

BICEPS:

TRICEPS: 

answer-icon-newYour goal of adding a solid inch of muscle mass to the size to your arms is a very attainable goal and with the right training and nutrition, I’m sure you will be able to reach it. You want to start by decreasing your overall training time from over an hour down to about 45-60 minutes maximum for the best results. You should be able to easily fit in your entire arm workout within this amount of time since the muscles of the arm (biceps and triceps) are rather small muscle groups compared to other larger body parts like the back and legs which carry a lot of muscle mass. This means that your overall number of sets for your arms will be in the range of 6-8 sets per workout versus a much higher load of 10-12 sets for your back and legs. The larger the muscle group, the more overall sets you need to do in order to stimulate growth. So keep your workouts short and super high intensity in order to break down the muscle fibers and make your arms grow.

ripped-arms-biceps-tricepsAnother important item to point out is the influence of the arms in training many of your other body parts. For example when you train your back, your biceps are the secondary muscle group being worked and the overall load on the muscle will be significant. When you train your chest and shoulders, your triceps come into play and they receive resistance training and stimulation as “helper” muscles while you workout. What this does is create an overall load on your arm muscles and you could end up running into overtraining issues if you train your biceps and triceps too soon without letting them rest up and fully recover. To combat this potential issue, try to focus your arm training on days that you do not train your back, chest or shoulders. Allow an entire day for your biceps and triceps to recover in order to let them get a few days extra of rest and then dedicate a full workout to annihilate them.

In terms of the exercises in your arm workout, I think your current plan looks really solid and you are using some very good mass building exercises. I recommend switching up your overall reps every week so you can shock your muscles with different workout schemes to keep them guessing and growing. For one week, shoot for lower repetitions of around 6-8 reps per set to really overload the muscle for growth. Then, the next week you should focus on higher repetitions of around 15-20 reps per set for endurance training and a different type of stimulation to confuse the muscle and keep it guessing.

I would also add preacher curls or seated incline dumbbell curls to your routine and focus on getting a great stretch at the bottom of the movement to help elongate the muscle and really target the lower part of the biceps muscle. For your triceps, I would replace the kickbacks with straight bar pushdowns for the best setup for your workout routine. Kickbacks are probably not the best choice of exercise to use when your goal is to pack on overall size and muscle mass to your arms due to the limitation of weight you can use with the dumbbells on this exercise. If you try to use a heavier weight, the stress placed on your shoulders and rotator cuff with the position you’re in while doing kickbacks could cause possible injury to those areas, so it’s best just to skip this movement completely and stick with pushdowns for your finishing exercise.

Adding a solid inch of muscle to your arms not only takes a lot of hard work in the gym but it also takes a lot of nutrient dense calories to saturate the muscles and stimulate growth. Read our Nutrition 101 article to find a sample meal plan along with a huge list of lean proteins, clean carbs and healthy fats to include in your nutrition plan to help you prime your body for muscle growth!

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