Let's face it, a lot of guys want to build up their arms because they want to look good. Unfortunately, many of them think that simply having "big arms" is enough to reach this goal. Well, the truth is having big arms is not enough to look great in a t-shirt – and in the course of building my 20-inch GUNS I've formulated a definition of what it means to have truly Awesome Arms. This definition has 3 components: extraordinary muscular development, symmetry and exceptional physical power.
Extraordinary Muscular Development
Bodybuilding legend Leroy Colbert – the first bodybuilder to build 21-inch arms with "peaked" biceps – has said that having big arms does not mean that you have well developed arms. I agree. And in your quest for "big arms" you must strive to pack your GUNS with extraordinary muscular development.
Extraordinary muscular development means that the muscles in your upper and lower arm will have a thick, full appearance, and that the larger muscles within these groups will be visibly distinguishable from each other. For example, the lateral, medial and long heads of the triceps should show separation from one another. In a front or rear double-biceps pose, there should be clear separation between your biceps and triceps.
As you can see, extraordinary muscular development does not depend on the absolute size of your arms. Instead, this attribute sets a standard for muscular detail and visual impact irrespective of your arm measurements. If you do not believe me, just check out the arms on some of the lighter weight wrestlers, boxers or gymnasts that compete in the Olympics or similar competitions. While their arms are not huge, most guys would gladly trade their spaghetti arms for GUNS like these small but powerfully built athletes.
I'm not saying that arm size is totally irrelevant to owning impressive looking arms. Clearly, the larger the arm showing extraordinary muscular development, the greater will be its visual impact. But big arms without targeted development of the biceps, triceps and forearms are not particularly impressive. For example, heavyweight powerlifters and similar strength athletes often have "huge" arms. These guys are tremendously strong, but they probably do not get many requests for arm training tips. Post why? Because most powerlifters do not do any targeted bodybuilding movements and, consequently, have large but shapeless arms.
The point here is that certain types of training will give you undefined muscle quantity while targeted workout methods build both mass and well-defined muscle quality. You can see the difference between undefined quantity and well-defined quality in comparing a telephone pole and an oak tree. If you visualize a telephone pole standing next to an oak tree, which of them looks more impressive? The telephone pole has girth but no shape and runs in a straight line from top to bottom. But the oak tree has a rippling and powerful trunk with well-defined branches showing growth, strength and durability.
If given the choice, which would you prefer – arms like shapeless telephone poles or thick, powerful oak trees?
The next essential element of Awesome Arms is symmetrical or balanced development. Leroy Colbert, Sergio Oliva, Larry Scott and Robby Robinson are a few of the all-time great bodybuilders known for their tremendous arms. While the particular details of their arms varied, all of these bodybuilding greats shared one common feature – symmetry! Not only did these bodybuilders have comparative balance between their biceps, triceps and forearms, but they also exhibited symmetrical development within these muscle areas.
Unfortunately, too many bodybuilding wannabes think that bulging biceps alone are the secret to Awesome Arms. This belief usually results in an enthusiastic but misguided training program limited exclusively to biceps curls. Barbell curls, dumbbell curls – curls, curls and more curls!
The problem with this one-dimensional training is that it produces unbalanced arm development – namely, all biceps and no triceps. Experienced and competitive bodybuilders know too well the drawbacks of an unbalanced physique. When a bodybuilder steps on stage, he or she knows that a lagging body part can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Even if you're not a competitive bodybuilder, unbalanced muscular development will detract from your appearance and overall strength.
To avoid these problems, and build truly Awesome Arms, you must train your biceps, triceps and forearms with equal energy and consistency. Only balanced workouts can produce the proportionate muscular development that will maximize your arms' symmetry and power.
Exceptional Physical Power
The third and final element of Awesome Arms is exceptional physical power. Your arms are at least a secondary source of strength in all of your upper body exercises. You probably know that bench and military presses primarily work your chest and shoulders. But these exercises require substantial assistance from your triceps. Back-building movements like t-bar rows, barbell rows and pull-ups demand help from your biceps and forearms. Even heavy deadlifts require superior gripping strength in your hands which in turn must come from powerful forearms. Indeed the most practical benefit of building powerful arms is increased strength in all pushing and pulling movements.
You've probably heard the saying "you get what you pay for." Well, if you do not progressively overload your arms during your workouts you will not stimulate the growth necessary to make them stronger. This muscular growth and the resulting increase in physical power occur through a biological process called hypertrophy.
Put simply, hypertrophy is the enlargement of muscle fibers that results from increased work. As applied to your arm training, this increased work consists of various biceps, triceps and forearm exercises using proper technique and progressively heavier weight. As you gradually lift more weight, you force your arms to develop and exert more physical power.
This overloading causes the breakdown and re-manufacture of proteins and other substances essential to muscle growth. For example, if you're doing strict sets of heavy preacher curls for your biceps, your body will break down certain enzymatic proteins and other energy sources in order to complete this exercise. When you complete your workout, your body will attempt to replenish these energy sources. It is during this recovery period that muscle growth actually occurs.
As you can see, the pursuit and development of exceptional physical power is essential to building truly Awesome Arms. And if you're wondering how much power is enough, the answer is as much as you can naturally develop. As with love or money, you can never have too much physical power. And as your overall arm strength increases, so too will your muscular development and symmetry provided that you're always careful to use proper training technique. With workouts targeted to build muscular definition, symmetry and exceptional physical power you'll be well on your way to owning a pair of truly Awesome Arms!