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At-Home Arm Workout

Build bigger biceps and triceps without a single dumbbell or barbell with this do-anywhere workout.

At Home Arm Workout

Do you miss the arm pump you get at the gym? That feeling when the biceps and triceps are so full of blood you almost can’t bend your elbows, veins popping all down your forearms?

Well, get ready for that same exact gym pump in your house or apartment. All you need is a mad scientist – me – twisting the workout knobs to deliver you a home-based plan that will put the pump, and the muscle mass, back in your arms!

Workout Overview

In the below routine, I pull out all my intensity tricks to give you a massive pump and a hell of a workout. We’ll stagger between triceps work and biceps work, but truth be told, on the manual resistance sets both biceps and triceps are working. And many exercises (like push-ups, dips, and body-weight table curls) involve other body parts.

Warm-Up: Arm Circles + Arm Swings

Remember to do a general warm-up first, consisting of 10-15 minutes of jogging, jumping rope, or other cardio activity. Since there will be a lot of movements that focus around the shoulder joint, your specific dynamic warm-up will consist of the same arm circles and arm swings done in the chest and shoulder workouts.

For arms, there won’t be an essential need to do a power move. The triceps assist on the upper body pushing power moves in the chest and shoulder workouts, while the biceps assist on the upper body pulling power moves in the back workout. That said, you’ll do the dynamic warm-up and then go straight for the throat with exhaustion techniques like extended sets.

Triceps Ladder: Close-Grip Push-Up

The arm workout starts with multiple variations of a bodyweight triceps exercise – the close-grip push-up – performed as an extended set (which I call a “ladder”), where you start with the most difficult version of the move and progress to the next easier version every time you reach failure.

In the case of close-grip push-ups, start with your hands on the floor, which is the standard version of the exercise. If this is too difficult, you can do it with your knees on the floor; if even that’s too hard, perform 3-5 negative reps instead of regular reps. If standard close-grip push-ups are too easy (meaning, you can rep out on the exercise seemingly forever), feel free to wear a backpack loaded with books to add resistance.  

Once you reach failure, elevate your hands on different surfaces to reduce your body weight and make the exercise easier. Shoot for 3-5 progressions between the floor and just above hip height (kitchen or bathroom counter is ideal). Midpoints between can be (in order of shortest to tallest) a stool, coffee table, couch seat, chair, couch or chair arm, and dining room table.

Here’s a full rundown of how to do close-grip push-ups, and then how to extend the set as a ladder:

  1. Start by lying face down on the floor, and place your palms flat on the floor as close to your sides as possible. Keep your elbows tucked in tight at your sides above your palms.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades back and stick your chest out as you press your body up off the floor until your arms are fully extended (with your shoulder blades still pulled back) and only for toes touch the floor, along with your hands.
  3. Focus on contracting the triceps as hard as you can in the top position before slowly lowering back to start. Feel the triceps resist your weight on the way back down; don’t just fall to the floor.
  4. Once you hit failure with your hands on the floor, place your hands on a stable surface about 1-2 feet off the floor (stairs, stool, coffee table, milk crate, chair, couch, etc), and immediately resume reps until reaching failure again.
  5. Find another stable surface 1-2 feet higher than the last (couch or chair arm, couch back, handrail, steps, etc.) and go to failure again. Continue in this manner until you’re doing the final set of the ladder with your hands just above hip height (on a kitchen or bathroom counter). After reaching failure here, the triceps ladder is complete.

4-Week Progression*: For progressive overload, either stick with your bodyweight all four weeks; with the goal of completing more reps per set each week; or, wear a loaded backpack in Weeks 2-4, increasing the resistance each week.

*Refer to my 4-Week At-Home Workout article for the full-body training split and all four weeks of workouts for all muscle groups.

Biceps Manual Resistance: Biceps Curl + Cross-Body Curl + Preacher Curl

After focusing on the triceps, not to mention the core and a great calorie burn, it’s time to exhaust the biceps with a manual resistance exercise. The triceps will also get some work here; refer to the chest article for an explanation of manual resistance training and how it trains both opposing muscle groups on every rep.

Because most of us have strong biceps and it’s difficult to train the pulling muscles at home, we need to exhaust the...

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