“Excuses don’t build muscle! Increasing your training, getting enough sleep, and eating more protein does”. Anonymous
You want to build arm muscle at home but you don’t have the right equipment. What do you do?
Do you know what calisthenics is?
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that consists of a variety of movements that exercise large muscle groups. To put it differently, calisthenics involves simple exercises such as standing on your hands, grasping, pushing and running. That is to say, you don’t need equipment to perform calisthenics.
Coupled with light and heavy lifting, calisthenics is without a doubt one of the easiest ways to build muscle. In fact, you can build muscle with calisthenics alone.
Then again, the question you have today is. How long does it take to build noticeable arm muscle?
How Long Does It Take to Build Arm Muscle?
To answer that question, we must first answer another very important question. “What causes muscle growth?”
Above all, what you need to remember is strength training according to research causes muscle growth in three main stages.
- Stage 1: stimulus: muscle growth is stimulated by three primary mechanisms, that is, mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage.
- Stage 2: molecular signaling: your body has a complex line up of signaling pathways that are activated in response to strength training.
- Stage 3: Muscle protein synthesis: it was recently uncovered that elevations in muscle/myofibrillar protein synthesis is related to long term muscle gain.
This Takes us Back to the Question; How Long Will it Take to Build Bigger and Stronger Arm Muscles at Home?
According to 8-time Mr. Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman, there are two types of weight to gain, there is good weight, and there is bad weight. To gain healthy weight or muscle faster, what you must do is:
- Eat lots of protein: Ronnie says, for every pound of bodyweight, he consumes two grams of protein.
- Gradually Increase carb intake: start with 250 grams and work your way up to 1000, he recommends healthy options such as rice, baked potato, oats, pumpkin, beets, etc. (avoid bad carbs such as bread).
- Eat 3-4 hours: get six healthy meals a day
- Do cardio 2-3 times a week.
No BS, how long will it take?
Your body size, composition and hormones determine muscle response. Moreover, muscle growth begins as soon as you start challenging your muscles by doing something unfamiliar.
Regardless of what you do, be lifting a bucket of water, a pushup or something else that is out of the ordinary for you. You will build muscle.
What happens is, such actions stress your muscles and create microscopic damage within your muscle fibers. Muscle growth happens when your body repairs these damaged cells.
Because of that, experts recommend you do strength training at least two days a week. The problem with overtraining is it can slow down progress and you may injure yourself.
Given these points. The right way to build strength is. 8-10 strength training exercises done in groups of 8-12 reps using the 2-3 sets principle. You can also try pyramid training, whereby, you start with the light weights and increasing weight use in succeeding sets.
All things considered, how long it will take depends on how hard you strain or challenge your muscles.
Generally, building arm muscle boils down to three things
- Consistent and intense training
- Good nutrition
Ridiculously Simple Ways to Build Arm Muscles at Home
Zbashore from bodybuilding.com, says, the best decision he ever made as a bodybuilder, was not having to pay a gym membership. I find myself agreeing with him, why?
Think about it, you can get very cheap used gym equipment at garage sales, flea markets, and on the internet. The point being, building muscle does not have to be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.
The question is, how do you do it?
How to Build Arm Muscle At Home with or Without Equipment
Activities such as running or walking can help build core, legs, and arm muscle but only up to a certain extent. To build noticeable arm muscle, you must introduce resistance/strength training to your home exercises for arms routine.
Assuming that you can’t afford dumbbells or weights, you should instead lift milk jugs, paint cans, rocks, books and anything else you can think of.
there are three very important things to remember when building arm muscle, no matter what you choose to lift.
- Exhale when you exert.
- Avoid jerky movements or building momentum (lift slow).
- Bending forward cuts your range of motion.
Build and shape your biceps: seated dumbbell curls
- Sit on the edge of a bench with a dumbbell/weight in each hand.
- Extend your arms downwards at your sides and keep your palms facing forward.
- Exhale as you bend your elbows and raise your weights towards your shoulders.
- Repeat. Don’t forget to breathe!
Improve strength: preacher curls
If you don’t have a preacher bench and E-Z curl, improvise or go to the gym for this option.
- Position your arms against the preacher bench.
- Hold the E-Z curl bar at shoulder length
- Breathe in as you lower the bar and exhale when lifting
Target biceps: Alternating dumbbells curls
You can perform this exercise seated or standing. Just make sure that your torso is upright. ‘
- Begin with weights at your side.
- Bend your elbow and lift upward.
Other Ways to Build Arm Muscle
There are plenty of ways to build arm muscles at home. Some of the simplest and most effective include:
- Triceps extensions/skull crusher/French extensions: lie flat on a bench with weights or dumbbells in each hand. Extend your arms carefully so that the weight is above your head and slowly lower it towards your shoulders. Pause for a few seconds then repeat.
- Bench dip/bodyweight dip: your own body is the weight here. Simply, place a bench behind your back and slowly lower your body as you inhale.
What we recommend if you have no weights or equipment
- Pushups/elevated pike pushups
- Crab walks
Recommended Calisthenic exercises
- Chin-ups and pull-ups
What the Army Recommends (4 weeks)
|Exercise||Recommended||Time, reps and sets|
|Chest triset 1||Incline dumbbell bench Flat dumbbell bench Decline dumbbell bench||8-12 reps 3sets|
|Back triset 2||Lat pulldown Upright row Straight arm Lat pull down||8-12 reps 3sets|
|Shoulder triset 3||Dumbbell shoulder press Cleans Seated bent-over row||8-12 reps 3sets|
|Arm/biceps triset||Standing bicep curl Hammer grip bicep curl||8-12 reps 3sets|
|Abdominal exercises||20-25 reps|
|Oblique crunches||30 – 40 each side|
To maximize benefits, the army recommends you perform equal volumes of work for all your upper body parts. You also need cardio.
Easy Ways to Strengthen your Arms at Home
Generally speaking, there are four main categories of exercise. ‘strength, endurance, balance and flexibility training’. To strengthen your arms or any other part of you, it is very important to build endurance first, why?
Endurance activities increase your breathing and heart rate. Also. Endurance activities improve the health of your lungs, heart and prevent circulatory diseases.
Another key point to remember is; it is impossible to strengthen your muscles if you lack endurance.
There is only one way to build endurance, that is, you must work your muscles for extended periods of time.
According to the National Academy for Sports Medicine, depending on how physically capable you are, you should start with 5 to 10 minutes of endurance exercises before you proceed to 20+.
This is important because, if you start lifting or strength training before you build up your endurance, you will get tired faster and it may kill your motivation to continue.
Option 1: Take up Swimming to Firm your Muscles
What are the characteristics of a swimmer’s body?
Obviously, broad shoulders, sculpted backs, strong arms, and wide chests.
In short, the great thing about swimming is every stroke, be it crawl, butterfly or backstroke requires you to use your major and minor pectoralis and other major muscles in your upper body. That tells you that swimming is a full-body movement that not only burns calories but also builds and strengthens muscles.
Option 2: Military Pushups
This type of pushup emphasizes the triceps by keeping the elbows tucked to the side. You will use your glutes, abdomen, and erector spinae group to stabilize your lumbar spine. You will also use your Serratus anterior group to support the rotation of your shoulder girdle.
In simple terms, this exercise strengthens your whole body including your arms.
rep count: 12+
Option 3: Bench dips/bodyweight dips
IMPORTANT: If not done right, bench dips will shred up your shoulders.
While doing bench dips, the position of your shoulders in relation to your trunk should be right. By that I mean, your shoulders should be properly aligned with your trunk. If you don’t practice proper posture, you will push up against your joints.
- Don’t allow your shoulders to collapse (proper form)
- Your thumbs should not face your body
The idea is to lift without injury.
Rep count 12+
Option 4: Arm Train Like the Military
According to the U.S ARMY handbook, here is how to get stronger in just four weeks.
|Exercise||Sets/reps||Time (4 weeks)|
|Rope climb||Set 1 30 ft, set 2 20 ft|
|Curl and press||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 reps|
|Lateral raise||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 res|
|90-degree lateral raise||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 reps|
|Dumbbell shoulder press||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 reps|
|Lateral raise||Set 1 15 reps set 2 10 reps|
|Dumbbell row||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 reps|
|Triceps kickback||Set 1 15 reps, set 2 10 reps|
To rapidly improve strength, the army recommends you perform low repetition sets with heavier weights than you’ve been using. You should also do longer cardiovascular intervals.
Can I Build Muscle with Just Dumbbells?
What’s more important, doing clean reps or hitting numbers?
From experience, I can tell you that doing clean reps is more beneficial than bouncing weights to improve your numbers.
It is possible to build arm muscle with dumbbells alone, but there is a catch, your body adapts to change and imbalance with the aim of maintaining homeostasis.
The point is. if the only equipment in your arsenal is dumbbells, you must mix things up to prevent stagnation.
Mix lifting with calisthenics.
- Military pushups
- Lying torso raises
Top dumbbells exercise to build arm muscle
- Bench press
- Crossbody hammer curls
- Bent over row
- Farmers’ walk
- Chest press
- Military press
- Concentration curls
Most people won’t tell you this. “You don’t necessarily need dumbbells to build muscle at home”. In any event, the easiest way to build muscle is to stick to these two principles:
- Progressive overload: stress out your muscles to prevent plateauing.
- Burn off more calories than you consume (be active)
For this to work, you need good protein such as chicken, lean beef, turkey, fish, etc.
To explain, progressive overload refers to the gradual increase in stress placed upon your body during exercise. Find out more here.
Create a bench press pyramid chart, and to keep things interesting, turn on the radio. Trust me, it helps.
In addition to that, if you are a man, lightweight dumbbells like let’s say 5 kgs won’t work in the long run. The trick is to start with low weights say 8- 10 pounds and work your way up. Starting with the heaviest weights you can find will make you give up faster.
The Ultimate Arms Workout Routine
If you got this far, you are now ready to take steps to prepare a solid home exercises for arms program. The first thing to do is set aside physical space in your home and get the right equipment if you have the resources.
You also need motivation. Motivation could be anything including:
- Finding pleasure in exercise
- The health benefits
- Improve your appearance
- To open up new opportunities or jobs
Remember, this is a personal journey and only you hold the keys to success.
From experience, I can tell you that in your journey, you will go through five stages. The first step is to make a decision, the second will be doubting yourself, if you push through that, you will start believing in yourself and you will be drawn to fit and healthy people. And the last step is you will conquer a goal and start making gains.
What to Do
|Pull-ups and dips||Max reps until failure|
|Bench press||50% reps and 2 negatives|
|Pushups and sit-ups||Maximum number you can do in 1 minute or two|
|Military press||Maximum reps 10+ lbs. dumbbells|
|Bicep curls||Maximum reps 10+ lbs.|
|Cardio||20 to 30 minutes|
This works best if you create your own routine, so use the information provided to make one. It goes without saying that you should not lift to failure all the time.
- Inhale and exhale on each repetition
- Work with a partner when lifting heavy
- Practice proper form 100% of the time
- Stop when you feel you could do just one more (don’t over train)
- If you are using stack weights, hold the bar with your thumbs facing inward
Example Arm Workout Routine
|Exercise: 2 sets of 10 repetitions||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Bent over row||/||/||/|
Tracking progress makes it easier to reach your goals, it lends accountability, it motivates you and it gives you something to work towards. if you hate the manual option, there are lots of apps that you can use to track progress.
I have No Weights, what do I do?
Training your upper body requires, as you can see from the workouts above, dumbbells and barbells. But that’s not to say that you can’t build arm muscles without equipment.
If you are in that position, we recommend:
- Handstands and headstands
- Downward dog
- Inverted row
- Triceps dip
- Arm circles
How Much Weight Should I Lift?
This question does not have a simple answer, I say that because there are a number of variables that are in play here.
Let’s assume that you pick a 90-pound barbell and you lift it 6 or 8 times, and someone else picks up a 20-pound bar and lifts it 80 times. Who worked harder?
The answer is both.
The point I’m trying to put across is the amount of weight you should lift depends on the goals you have. Your aim might be to improve flexibility, endurance, or strength. Work towards that. And stick to the principles below.
Stick to the Principles of Training
- Principle of individuality: we respond to the same training stimulus in different ways because of our age, gender, body type and size, biological age and past injuries. Find a routine that works for you.
- Principle of specificity: you will only see results in the muscle groups you train, so target your muscles and use proper body mechanics to perfect your technique.
- Principle of overload: for your body to react to training, you must stress it by working against a stimulus or load that is greater than that to which it is accustomed to.
- Principle of progression: for progression you must gradually and constantly increase stimulus.
- Diminishing returns principle: your performance is directly related to the level of training. If you have been lifting for a while you may have noticed nowadays you see smaller gains. For success, you should identify your weaknesses and work on them. Also, be patient!
- Principle of reversibility: if you stop training for an extended period of time, you will no longer be able to maintain your current level of performance.
How Much Weight Can you Lift?
If you are in the habit of waiting for everyone to clear the gym or locking the door to avoid embarrassment while you lift at home. Listen up.
People who lift 200Lbs. easily, did not achieve that overnight.
What I’m saying is how much you can bench is not the true marker of strength. This may sound preachy, but strength comes from inside. By that I mean, if you lack confidence, bodybuilding is not the sport for you.
There is no shame in starting with small weights and working your way up, but there is shame in getting trapped under something you can’t lift.
How do I Know if I’m Lifting too Heavy?
Lifting too heavy or overtraining will result in problems such as decreased coordination, power, endurance, and strength. You are also more likely to experience trouble sleeping, you may become irritable, suffer muscle and joint soreness, and you will take longer to recover.
In simple terms, if you over train, you kill your drive and motivation.
How do I Know When to Increase Weight?
Have you stopped seeing results? Have your weights started feeling like toys? or are you just not ‘feeling it’?
If the answer is yes, you need to add more weights.
The Right Way to Add Weights
- Increase resistance by no more than 10%.
- Aim for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions with your adjusted weight.
- When you get used to it, increase resistance by another 10%.
How Often Should I Train my Arms?
We all know that repeating the same workout mode day after day doesn’t work.
The question comes, how often should I train my arms?
Now, I’m not saying that working on your arms or working out in general every day is a bad thing. What I’m saying is you should develop an arm workout schedule that involves different activities, different session lengths, and varying intensity.
Provided that, you are strength training or trying to build muscle, you should aim for 2 to 3 days. You can dedicate the remaining days to compound exercises or calisthenics. Doing that will prevent plateauing and you will see gains faster.
Four-time Mr. Olympia winner Jay Cutler has 22-inch arms, how did he do it?
According to him, what works best is training biceps and triceps together. One important thing to remember is, train your triceps first before you do biceps, why?
Most people find it easier to train triceps than biceps because it requires less energy. That said, I highly recommend you rotate your routine. therefore, sometimes start with biceps and other times triceps.
- Focus on repetitions not weight (12-15+).
- Keep track of progress with a smartphone.
- Warm-up your elbows with rope press downs (prevents elbow pain), 3 sets 12 reps.
- Press downs to work your triceps and increase strength and size.
- Bench press 3 sets 12 reps.
- Bodyweight dips 3sets 12 reps.
- Hammer triceps extension 3 sets 12 reps.
- Barbell curls 12 reps.
- Seated dumbbell curls 8 repetitions 3 sets.
- Spider crawl on incline bench.
- Behind back curls to build forearm 12 reps 3 sets.
- Lightweight Reverse curls 12 reps 3 sets.
So, how often Should I Train my Arms
We react to stimuli or exercise in different ways, for that reason. there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. What you need to remember is how often you train is dependent on how available you are. That is to say, the answer to the question of how often should I train is. “it depends on you and how much work you are willing to put in”.
Is my Workout Routine Working?
It is not out of the ordinary to hear people complaining about spending days, weeks or even months on a workout routine that doesn’t work. How sure are you that the routine you are currently on is working?
Let’s find out.
Signs Your Fitness Routine is not Working
- You don’t enjoy your workouts, instead, you slog through
- Sleeping problems and unexplained pain for days
- You feel dizzy and weak all the time
- Decreased appetite
How long Will it Take for my Arms to get Bigger
Do you have a plan?
I ask that because building muscle can take days, weeks or even years depending on the amount of work you are willing to put in and your current physical and mental condition.
The first thing you must get rid of is stress.
The problem with stress is it affects your recovery time and increases your risk of injury, also according to the co-founder of Truth Gym London, stress can inhibit protein synthesis making it harder for you to build muscle.
In his book ‘strength training anatomy, powerlifting champion Fredric Delavier points out five factors that stimulate muscle growth:
- Stretching tension
- Contraction tension
- Time under tension
- Muscle burn
- Muscle pump
Putting focus on these factors will accelerate muscle growth, it also helps to know what mistakes to avoid. Some of the common mistakes bodybuilders make when trying to build muscle are:
- You don’t stick to your routine i.e. you try to do everything at once.
- You avoid lifting heavyweights. Lifting heavy weights with low reps is the right way to go.
- Some bodybuilders do the same workout over and over.
- You may be abusing supplements
- You eat ‘dirty’ calories
- You listen to too many people
- You have poor form and you do too much cardio
How to Build Muscle Faster
- Increase protein, glutamine, and leucine intake.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Increase training volume
- Supplementing with creatine
“being negative and lazy is a disease that leads to pain, hardships, depression, poor health, and failure. Be proactive and give a damn to achieve success!” Phil Heath.
As jay cutler put it, “it’s about getting up and going to the gym every day”. If you don’t enjoy it, simply don’t do it. find something else.
The important thing to remember is to train at your own leisure. sometimes train hard and sometimes take it easy. Just make sure that you get something done. You don’t need to pick pre-workouts before you start training, you don’t need a gym membership, and you don’t need anyone else other than you.
On training day, ask yourself this: “what do I feel like doing?”. Whatever answer excites your mind, do that! Also, challenge yourself, don’t try to be someone else or try to impress someone.
That’s Jay’s take on all this.
Building your arms is not something that can be done overnight, it takes a lot of time and you need to patient.
To wrap things up, building muscle at home comes with inherent challenges that you must carefully consider, however, the benefits without a doubt far outweigh the cons. You don’t need gym equipment; all you need is the right frame of mind and you will find success.
What are you waiting for? The time to act is now, your arms won’t build themselves. So, subscribe to get the free program to build muscle at home and if you have any questions, use the comment section.