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3 Best Compound Exercises For Massive Biceps and Triceps

Barbell curls. Preachers. Extensions. Pressdowns. On arms day, these are a few of our favorite things. But these moves are single-joint moves that isolate your biceps and triceps. Larger muscle groups, such as the chest, back, and quads, are usually bombarded with an array of multi-joint moves that allow for more weight before isolation exercises come into play. Is it possible to use that same strategy on your arms? Justin Grinnell, C.S.C.S., owner of State of Fitness, believes it is.

“When athletes think about developing ripped arms, they immediately think of isolation exercises, such as biceps curls and triceps pressdowns,” he says.

“While isolation movements are great when trying to add some detail to a muscle group, for overall mass and strength gains, compound movements will always trump isolation movements.”

Grinnell says that multi-joint moves and heavier weight loads will lead to a greater release of your body’s natural growth hormone: testosterone and IGF-1. Collectively, these hormones work to help you add size…everywhere. That includes your pipes. Just train, feed, and repeat. Here are Grinnell’s three moves to get you going.


Close Grip Bench Press – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Majority of the people have weaker triceps as compared to their biceps. This is why we like starting our workouts with triceps. Close grip bench press is one of the best exercises to build size and strength in your triceps.

Make sure you maintain a full range of motion while performing this exercise. Your triceps consist of three heads; lateral, media and long. You need to train them equally to ensure an overall growth. The close grip bench press works the medial and lateral tricep heads.

Barbell Skullcrushers – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Overhead movements like the barbell skull crushers work the long head of your triceps. The long head is the hardest to develop as only a few exercises target it. If you haven’t done this exercise in the past, ask for a spot from someone at your gym.

Lie on a flat bench with your arms stretched outwards while holding a barbell. Keep your elbows fixed at a position as your lower the barbell so it is a couple of inches away from your forehead. Return to the starting position and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.


Dips – 3 Sets 20 Reps

You don’t always need to use additional weights to build muscle. Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to add mass to your triceps. If the bodyweight variation feels too easy, feel free to add resistance by using weights.

You don’t need to lift heavy weight to build muscle mass in your arms. Pumping blood into the muscle by performing higher reps and following a full range of motion will do the trick. Your chest should be parallel to your hands at the bottom of the movement and your elbows should be locked out at the top of the movement.

Barbell Curls – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Bicep curls are one of the most effective bicep building exercises. Take a five-minute rest after you finish your triceps workout so the blood leaves your triceps. Muscle pumps occur when blood enters your target muscle group.

Use an Olympic barbell for the barbell curls. Maintain a strict form as you curl the barbell. Don’t swing your back or use momentum to lift the weights. Using improper form can lead to an injury.

Alternate Dumbbell Curls – 3 Sets 15 Reps

Alternate dumbbell curls are a textbook bicep exercise. This exercise helps you in establishing a mind-muscle connection with your biceps as you’re targeting one bicep at a time. Maintain a full range of motion and avoid using momentum.

Pause and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. Stand with the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing each other. Your palms should be supinated at the top of the movement.

Underhand Pull-Ups – 3 Sets 20 Reps

Underhand pull-ups are the ultimate bicep finisher. This exercise is incredibly effective as you lift your entire bodyweight using your biceps. If you can’t perform bodyweight pull-ups, use an assisted pull-up machine or a spotter.

By the end of this exercise, your pythons will be filled with lactic acid. Holding the pull-up bar with a wide grip will focus on your inner biceps and a narrow grip will work your outer biceps.