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What is the Best Arms Day Workout Routine?

Posted Dec 29 2009 12:00am
December 29th, 2009 Posted in , ,
Your Questions
Your Questions

I get plenty of questions in various comments throughout the website, but I also get comments and questions via the Project Swole Contact Form.

Generally I address those questions through e-mail, but often I do not have the time to reply to each and every question personally.

The category, Your Health Questions is a more proactive approach to answering your questions so that everyone can benefit from the Q & A.

“First off, I would like to say your site is great. I’ve learned a lot reading your articles.

I just had one question: when you say not to have an ‘arms day’, should I just include a few biceps and triceps exercises everyday? And how many different exercises of each should I do?”


First off, thank you for the kind words. I’m glad some of my ramblings help others get swole.

Furthermore, there has always been conflict in the debate about the need for an ‘arms day’. This is usually the favorite workout of the week for teenagers and newbies.

Fortunately, the biceps need very little work to grow properly if you are using the best compound exercises to train the rest of your body. The triceps are a little different in that they comprise twice as much muscle mass as biceps, and can require additional work depending on your goals.

Arnold Biceps
Arnold’s Arms

Compound exercises that also work the triceps:

  • Bench press – flat, decline, close grip, incline
  • Board press – more boards = more triceps isolation
  • Floor press
  • Military press (to a lesser extent)

Compound exercises that also work the biceps:

  • Barbell rows
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Machine and cable rows
  • Pull ups
  • Chin ups

Fact: your triceps make up 2/3 of your arm muscle and the biceps fill in the gaps, which inherently means the bis need even less work than the tris. I find that half of the time I end up skipping biceps in order to do something that I don’t normally do, like shrugs or pullovers or glute ham raises.

If you are using full body training, lifting 3 times a week, you should probably train triceps 3 times and biceps 1-2 times. As long as you are training your back properly, you won’t need to train your biceps 3 times a week, or have a dedicated arms day.

If you are prioritizing your triceps training, either to increase your bench or to increase the size of your arms, you could substitute close grip bench or board press for your chest exercise on one of the three days, and include direct triceps work later in that workout.

If you are using a full body split, training a different muscle group each day for 4-5 workouts a week, you should train triceps on chest day and biceps on back day if you are not prioritizing triceps training.

If you are prioritizing triceps training you could probably train triceps on back day and on chest day in order to hit them twice in one week. You could also replace one chest exercise with a big triceps exercise, on chest day.

The only way I could really see integrating an arms day, is if you plan to use compound exercises to train the arms.

One possible ‘arms day’ routine:

I might be grasping for straws here, but this is basically the only kind of ‘arms day’ workout that makes sense to me, but it is also a back and chest workout at the same time. Making an ‘arms day’ workout full of curls and triceps extensions is futile in my opinion.

Best of luck!

Written by Steve
Steve is a formerly ISSA certified personal trainer and sport nutritionist, who has been studying, practicing, and experimenting since 1994. Please use the content at Project Swole to supplement the advice of your doctor or physician. All medical questions should be directed towards a qualified medical professional, and the advice provided at Project Swole should be used at your own discretion.

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