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Not everyone wants jacked arms. And that's cool. But if you do want those Popeye-style pythons, you should know how to do it effectively. BuzzFeed Life talked to some experts to give you real helpful advice for getting the jacked arms of your dreams — minus the bro science. Remember, this isn't medical advice; be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of new diet or training program.
The first thing to know is that getting jacked arms simply means making the muscles of the upper arm bigger.
Specifically we're talking about the biceps brachii (on the front of the upper arm between the elbow and shoulder), the brachialis (the small muscle on the lower part of the upper arm that connects the bottom of the bicep to the forearm, also part of the biceps), and the triceps brachii (the back portion of the upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder), explains Tony Gentilcore, Boston-based strength coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist.
But you can’t just do a billion bicep curls.
Or even a million! The most efficient way to actually get jacked arms is to get stronger all over. “Most people don't have big arms not because they don't do enough bicep curls, but because they're really weak,” says Gentilcore, who doesn't even prescribe isolated arm work for clients until they can do five chin-ups. You don't have to follow that rule exactly, but keep the spirit of it mind: Focus on getting stronger all over, which will allow you to move more weight in all exercises, including those that involve your arms. And then when it comes time to do arm-only lifts (more on that in a sec), those will be heavier, too, giving you more bang for your buck.
Start doing squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and chin-ups.
As we've previously reported, compound, multi-joint movements (like deadlifting, squatting, and pressing) involve the largest muscle groups in your body, which allow you to move a lot of weight and work lots of muscle groups at once. And all that can boost your strength and size. These moves should make up the bulk of your weight training.
But also make time for exercises that strengthen your whole upper body — like rows and chin-ups. “Rows and chin-up variations are, for my money, the best bicep exercises,” says Gentilcore.
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