Your arms play a huge role in just about every upper body exercise you perform. When doing Pull-Ups, your biceps do a lot of the pulling work. When doing Bench Presses, your triceps bear a lot of the heavy load. Boosting arm strength is the key to performing ALL upper body exercises more effectively.
To boost arm strength, many people spend time doing bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and other isolation exercises. Sadly, these isolation exercises are not the most effective method of increasing arm strength. Why is that? Isolation exercises work your muscles in a very specific way, but not in the way that they are worked for exercises like pull-ups or bench presses. You’ll develop some strength and great definition, but not as MUCH strength as you could have if you work the muscles right.
The key to boosting arm strength: focus on compound movements. Compounds movements involve multiple muscles, meaning they develop overall strength rather than just targeting a single muscle. The best exercises for boosting your arm strength are:
Bench Presses —Great for building chest muscles, developing those shoulders, and pushing your triceps hard.
Push-Ups — Another good one for your tricep, chest, and shoulders, with even a bit of core work thrown into the mix.
Pull-Ups —This one focuses on your pulling muscles–your lats, biceps, and shoulders. One of the best upper back exercises around!
Rows — Yet another great upper back exercise that will develop strong biceps and shoulder muscles.
These four exercises will help you to strengthen your arms along with the larger muscle groups of your upper body. Within a few months, you’ll see some pretty impressive results when you make these the focus of your workouts.
Another great way to boost your arm strength: hang from a pull-up bar. How is this going to make you stronger?
First off, it helps to decompress your spine. If you’ve been sitting or standing all day, the pressure on your spine has likely affected your posture and stiffened the muscles in your back. By decompressing your spine, you’ll reduce your risk of back injury and help to keep your posture erect.
Second, hanging like this will help to loosen up your lats. These upper back muscles tend to tighten up when you are sitting or standing uncomfortably, which in turn reduces the mobility of your shoulders and arms. This reduced mobility can lead to serious discomfort and even injury when doing overhead exercises like pull-ups or overhead presses.
Third, doing pull-up bar hangs will help to improve your grip strength. This is a much more effective method of strengthening your forearms than forearm curls or extensions, as the muscle tension is consistent.
Fourth, you can improve the stability of your core. This will help you perform upper body movements with greater ease and a lower risk of injury, as your core will keep everything in its place.
Finally, doing hangs with your elbows locked at a 90-degree angle will give your biceps some serious work. You’ll find that doing this will help you to get past that “sticking point” that makes pull-ups such a challenge, helping you to complete more reps. You’ll find yourself with much greater arm strength overall, making it easier to do those pull-ups, chin-ups, and rows.
Spend as much time hanging as your routine allows and your arms can handle. Work on increasing your forearm and upper arm strength, loosening up the lats and spine, and increasing the mobility in your shoulders.