3 Keys to Jacked Arms: Frequency, Sequencing, and Forearms

“Curls for the girls” may be a cute catch phrase that many dudes use to justify only training chest and biceps. Despite it’s cuteness, “curls for the girls” has been a driving force of motivation for meatheads to get into the gym and throw the semi-rusted iron around.
In that case, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that many of us are driven by the need to build an impressive set of arms to attract females.


Granted, for the most part that line of thinking isn’t what I would call effective or accurate. But, if it gets more guys into the gym who wouldn’t otherwise, I’m all for it. Besides, there’s the whole developing masculinity factor that comes into play.

Thing is, most of these men (and this could well include you) have little to no training experience. Meaning that they default to the easy, simple routines to follow. Namely 405 different bicep curl variations and an equal amount of triceps work. It’s only natural, really.

Much to said bro’s eventual disappointment, the initial spurt of growth and progress will come to an abrupt halt. Moving forward, you’ll be left wondering why you’re still awkwardly curling the same weight as last month and why your arms aren’t even close to stretching your shirt sleeves.

The reason?

Well, simply because there’s a little bit more that goes into building a set of powerful arms than a few (hundred) sets of hammer curls and rope pressdowns.

My friend, it’s time for you to take a calculated, birds-eye-view of your arm training and make some adjustments.

If you aren’t doing any of what follows and you’re unhappy with your arm growth, you may want to should implement a thing or two from this article. Something tells me you won’t regret doing so.

Because gains.

What do you know about training frequency?

Look, I know it might come off as a little ridiculous that you jack up your arm training frequency when it’s quite possible that arm work makes up 4 out of your 5 days in the gym per week, but hear me out.

Training your arms once or twice per week is not enough for most to build a pair of standout arms. Training your arms every fucking day borders on counterproductive, and will leave you with beat up, angry, inflamed joints. None of which are what’s needed to build bigger arms.

This is where taking a bird’s eye view comes in handy, and will help you to effectively train your arms, while not relegating the rest of your body to the back burner (like you’ve insisted on doing for so long).

Let us not forget the line of thinking that training chest & back provides your arms with enough indirect stimulation to generate growth. Let me be clear – if you’re properly training your chest and back, the last thing you should be thinking about is how you’re also indirectly training arms at the same time. If you’re serious about adding some mass to your arms, you need to train them directly.

Here’re your action steps for dialling in your arm training frequency:

  1. If all you’re doing for training is arm work, please read this article, and train the rest of your body as well.
  2. Should you only be training arms 1-2 times per week, try jacking it up to 3-4 sessions per week. This will mean a lower daily training volume, and a higher weekly volume.
  3. You can also experiment with modulating the intensity of your sessions as you move through the week. Start with lower intensity, heavier work. Then graduate into high intensity, pump focused, muscle-damaging work later in the week.
  4. If you’ve been subscribing to thought process of “all this chest and back work will surely lead to arm growth,” check yourself. While there will be some growth, it’s far from optimal. And nobody should feel good about settling for average or mediocre.

What do you know about exercise sequencing?

Any mindless baboon can walk into the gym, throw together a bunch of exercises that are related to one another and call it a “workout.” But, there’s a stark difference between a workout and an effective training session. A true training session is what comes forth when there’s a clear goal in mind. An educated, targeted approach and concentrated effort. Exercise sequencing is a major key in creating a session that graduates from “workout” to “training session.”

When it comes to arms, here’re are the six factors that I make sure to take into account when building a doozy of an arm session.

  • Forearms before triceps, and triceps before biceps.
  • Movements that focus on the peak contraction before stretch focused exercises.
  • Your exercise selections needs to work through different points on the strength curve. Either start weak and go easy, or vice versa. Try not to jump back and forth (it’s not the end of the world if you do, but for a truly awesome arm session I suggest avoiding this).
  • Accept for the strength differences between biceps and triceps. This will affect your rep ranges to some degree.
  • Your individual needs when it comes to your arms. Not everyone needs to bring up their triceps, while others desperately do.
  • Your triceps are inherently bigger, and can handle more volume and heavier loads than your biceps. Program your session accordingly.

Each of the above factors directly plays into how effective and productive your arm session is ultimately going to be.

Exercise sequencing goes beyond slapping some exercises one after the other and going to town. It’s an art form, that with practice, becomes a very valuable tool for you and your training goals.

If you follow the guidelines in this section, I can guarantee that your next arm session will yield a pump that’s off the charts and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

Seriously. Don’t just read this and mumble to yourself “I’ll get around to trying this.” Put your phone in your pocket, and go blast through an arm session that’s built with these guidelines in place (like the one at the bottom of this article).

Flex your forearms

No, your “nightly routine” will not bring any more symmetry or size to your forearms (sad, I know).

If you’re forearms are in need of some loving, I suggest you train these first in your session. There’s that good ‘ol law of specificity cropping up again. And if you’ve got the spare cajones, come back at the end of your session to absolutely obliterate them.

Frankly, the state of many dudes forearms is abysmal and embarrassing. Your forearms are a large contributor to your grip strength, which plays into everything. The strength of your handshake, how effectively you can “squeeze” a muscle while you train. Hell, your grip strength is even a powerful indicator of your longevity and overarching health.

Yet for a muscle that largely contributes to developing an impressive biceps peak, uniform arms from top to bottom, and a massive player in grip strength, not many lifters give them much, if any love.

That being said, they don’t need much stimulus. But, they do need some direct loving to improve.

Here are my favourite exercises and rep ranges for developing size and strength in a lifter’s forearms.

  • Hammer Curls (6-8 reps)
  • Zottman Curls (10-12 reps)
  • Pronated Cable Curls (20+ reps)
  • Barbell Curls (6-10 reps)
  • Forearm Extension on Preacher Bench (15-30 reps)
  • Forearm Flexion on Preacher Bench (15-30 reps)

If you aren’t doing any of the above, seriously consider working 2-3 of those movements into your sessions.

If you’re already doing 1-2 of the above with any degree of regularity, you have two choices.

A) If you’re happy with the size and strength of your forearms, keep doing what you’re doing.

B) If you’re not happy, add in another exercise or two.

That’s it, that’s all, Folks.

An arm jacking done proper

The session below is a shining example of the perfect blend of exercise sequencing and forearm work. All that remains is of you to train your arms with frequency.

A1. Pronated Cable Curls 4×20

A2. Straight Bar Pressdowns w/ forward lean 4×12-15

Cock your wrists backwards on the cable curls, and keep your elbows tight by your side. On the pressdowns, hinge forward at your hips by 15-20 degrees and think of pushing the weight down and away from you.

B1. Pronated Curl/Pullover/French Press 3×8-12, 30-40s rest

B2. Supinated Curl/Pullover/French Press 3×8-12, 30-40s rest

You’re going to be tempted and challenged to rest mid-set. Don’t. Maintain an even tempo and flow from rep to rep.

C1. Standing Barbell Curls, close grip, forward lean 4×8-10, 60s rest

C2. Standing Barbell Curls, wide pronated grip, backward lean 4×8-10, 60s rest

On the close grip curls, aim to curl the bar towards your forehead. On the wide, prone curls, try to curl up high enough that the bar comes into your line of vision.

D1. Decline EZ Bar Pullover/Skullkrusher Hybrid 3×12-15, 60s rest

Perform a traditional skullkrusher motion, but instead of lowering to your forehead, I want you to lower behind you head. Allow your lats to come into play and support your triceps.

E1. Behind the Back X Extensions 4×20+, 45-60s rest

Stand with your back to a dual cable stack. Grab the cables and cross your hands behind your head. As you extend your arms above your head, also try to shove them out to the sides. This will generate a nasty triceps cramp and put the finishing touches on your wicked pump.

Now THAT is a bicep pump. #thepumpisthecure #theroadtonationals #thewanderingmeathead

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The final reps

At this point your arms should be fried, and you should have a clear idea of what you need to do in order to level up your arm size and strength.

Should you want more meatheaded training and nutrition advice, hit up the link in the bio below. Meathead Mullan will take good care of you.

About the Author

Alex is a short shorts enthusiast, espresso fiend, and an unapologetic meathead. When he's not training legs or learning how to better serve his clients, he can be found exploring how to write more better, perfect his risotto recipe, or pull the perfect shot of espresso. Alex has polled 19 of the top muscle building minds for their best training tips, and gathered them into one convenient guide. Click through here to grab your copy of the prestigious Hypertrophy Handbook (it's free).