ANSWERED: Can You Build Big Arms Without Touching Weights?
Which muscles make your arms look impressive? How do you do the perfect bicep curl? What is the best way to supersize your triceps? These commonly asked questions all answered by our expert coaches.
Q/ How can I increase the visibility of veins on my arms? How visible your veins are – a.k.a. your vascularity – is not related to how many pull–ups and bicep curls you’re doing. If you want your veins to be visible, you need to focus on lowering your body fat percentage. If you can get it below 15%, you should see major changes to your vein visibility. Bear in mind that the actual size of your veins is due to your genetics, and you may even have different sized veins on your right and left arms.
Q/ Can you build big arms without weights? The question isn’t if, but how. If you travel a lot or don’t have the cash to throw at a gym or invest in your own equipment, don’t stress – all you need is your own bodyweight. There are pull-up bars at outdoor gyms that you can use for free, or you could use an empty bottle. They’re easy to find and durable – just fill them up with water, or, even better, sand. A 1.5 litre bottle can easily become a 2kg dumbbell, and if you want to get it up to 3kg, use wet beach sand.
Q/ Can you train each muscle group in your arm separately? Yes. Your tricep makes up more than half of the upper arm – which means that it should be trained just as much as your biceps (if not more). If you want to increase the circumference of your arms, this is where you should start. Next up, your bicep. It’s dominated by fast-twitch muscle fibres, which fatigue quickly but contract much faster. Ideally, you should use heavy weights. And lastly: your forearms. These are the most underrated muscle group in your arm, but if you train them properly, they’ll make you stronger on all your lifts and increase your grip strength drastically. That’ll also help to keep your wrist in a strong position while you’re lifting heavy weights.
Q/ Is it possible to tear your biceps while training? You mean just like any other muscle in your body? Well, yes. A tear can happen suddenly, even while you’re doing normal day-to-day activities. The symptoms would include a bump on the lower part of your upper arm (a sign your muscle has shifted), and in most cases you’ll see a dark bruise, which should disappear after two or three weeks. The main cause of a partly torn bicep is muscle fatigue from overuse – which can happen slowly over time without you noticing. If it has torn, then you need to discuss your options with a doctor.
Q/ Does training with mates really result in better gains? Yup. If you do it right, training in a group will make you stronger. Arrange to train with your friend and support each other through the last, hardest reps. You can also help correct each other’s technique, and provide some feedback on their form. Lastly, and most importantly, they can spot you – so you can go heavier and get more out of each rep. The only rule? You need to find a partner who has similar goals and strength levels, as you’ll be able to get more from the partnership. In fact, it’s even better if your gym partner is stronger than you, as their results will push you to lift more.