The Exercises & Tools Needed To Build Anaconda Arms

Big arms. Ladies love them, and guys wish they had them, or at least wish theirs were bigger.

Big and strong, with as big of a circumference as possible, oh and veiny too, must be veiny.

We could go on and on about the similarities between arms and penises, but what it all comes down to here is the simple fact that you can effectively grow one but not the other.

Arms impress in the same way big dicks too. Big bulging arms can simultaneously intimidate other men with smaller, weaker arms while making women flush in the face.

Seriously, when was the last time you ever read a piece of hot steamy romance without the book mentioning big strong arms at least once in addition to a horse, a sunset, and silk?

So, arms are like penises in many ways, but unlike them in that there are very reliable, repeatable ways to grow them, at least in width. Length is something we all just have to live with 🙁

Why You Should Focus on Growing Your Arms

First, we have to acknowledge that genetics is a big part of bodybuilding. Minus heaps of gear and surgery, you’re looking at the best possible way to maximize your genetic potential, not recreate it.

Yeah, “It’s all about genetics, bro” is a bit depressing. Those tiny calves will never be as thick as Uncle Rick’s. Rick just lucked out on the calf card.

The Exercises & Tools Needed To Build Anaconda Arms

We all know it’s not just that simple, though…

The thing is, where genetics can completely suck, they can completely rock too. Rarely is someone dealt with 100% poor genetics.

For every calf deficiency, there are bicep insert advantages. For every small deltoid insecurity, there are perfectly symmetrical abdominals.

The fact is we all have our strong points and our weak points. If you are a rather skinny guy and taller, then arms can definitely be turned into one of your strong points.

This is because, unlike more rigid predispositions, like tiny calves or narrow clavicles (and thus narrow shoulders), we all have pretty similar diameter arm bones. This means with enough time and effort, most men have the ability to grow impressive arms.

We should know. We went from an ectomorphic AF scrawny high schooler with two broken arms (like bone hanging by skin broken) to having two anacondas of arms, bulging forearms, and all.

The road to “big-armdom” or “arm-Valhalla” is a long one, and it is a difficult one, but it is also a fun one since we ARE talking about training ARMs here…this isn’t a leg workout guide or guide to cardio. As you may know, those roads are long and not fun at all.

Why Your Arms Aren’t Growing

Arms can be stubborn. Not quite calf-level stubborn, but still more stubborn than pectorals, traps, and quads.

Like our calves, many people attribute this to the fact that we use are arms every day, so they build up high levels of slow twitch muscle fibers.

Arms contain a mix of fast and slow twitch fiber types. The forearm and portions of the bicep contain more slow twitch fibers, while the triceps have more fast twitch fibers.

This is evidenced in the function. The forearms and biceps have to engage for long periods of time under tension for all rowing/pulling motions, which, given how big the back is and how often weight is loaded on the arms for both leg and back days (think rows, pull-ups/pulldowns, deadlifts, shrugs, etc.).

gaining girth

Conversely, the triceps are involved in more pushing motions, which are often more explosive in nature and generally don’t require high TUT to stimulate growth.

Think dumbbell press, bench press, overhead press, etc. All explosive movements.

Thus, a well-rounded training program for growing one’s arms will contain a mix of both high TUT exercises as well as explosive work.

Much of the explosive work will come out of regular compound lifts performed on a regular schedule, while the TUT work will be completed with more isolation-type exercises like hammer grip curling, tricep extensions, etc.

The Benefits of Focusing On Growing Your Arms

The benefits of big arms are almost endless. Outside of the vanity of intimidation and wooing of the opposite sex, there are many more practical benefits of having big powerful arms.

Just a few advantages include:

  • Increased deadlift capacity
  • Increased back workout volume
  • Strong, secure grip for more secure lifts
  • Practical self-defense
  • Barroom arm wrestling domination
  • Ability to open any canned, processed, tightly sealed food
  • Impress at work with the firmest handshake of them all
  • Making shirts make you look buffer with tight arms

All jokes aside, grip strength is often a limiting factor in other lifts like deadlifts, shrugs, and rowing exercises. On any given back day, you may be combining 4-6 different rowing/pulling movements with the intention of destroying your back muscles.

However, after exercise 3 or 4, you may have to decrease the weight of volume, not because your huge traps or rhomboids are destroyed but because your arms simply can’t continue holding your working weight.

Will Using Straps Weaken My Grip Strength?

Sure, many lifters turn to straps, and for occasional PRs, this is fine. The ability to add a little extra grip strength to do one repetition of a very heavy amount of weight with the purpose of putting down a 1RM to measure your progress over time is a useful thing.

However, we caution against regularly training with straps. The straps can easily become a crutch and, over a long enough time, take over work that would normally be stimulating arm growth.

Guys who use straps throughout the years either end up having very limited forearm strength without them (causing them to have to use straps for life) or require them to add in a TON of supplemental isolation work outside of their main lift days to help their arms grow where the straps have been overcompensating.

Straps can even be dangerous if you are relying on them to help you complete the exercise. Victor Costa from Vics Natural explains the concept well below:

To achieve maximum pump, you really have to push yourself past “the burn”. Unlike squats, where you can move heavy weights but not feel like your legs are about to explode yet still stimulate growth and be sore AF the next day, arms you really need to kill at the gym to ensure growth out of the gym.

Pushing out those extra reps and past the normal quitting point is best done with a partner. Doing endless drop sets or reverse pyramids is a fun way to run through a brutal bicep workout.

If you don’t have a partner, that’s fine; headphones blasting loud and angry music should suffice.

Best Arm Exercises for Maximizing Growth Fast

In addition to heavy compound lifts, we recommend mixing in a wide variety of isolation work to maximize hypertrophy and growth.

Some of our favorite arm-focused exercises include:

Most Effective Bicep Exercises:

Biceps are fun to mix in regular heavy work at a set pace with a good rhythm as well as slow extension work with high time under tension.

On a dedicated arm day, our bicep-oriented work will include a combination of combined movement and isolated single-arm movements. Mix the classics with newer isolation work. Classics work—isolation polishes.

A typical split might look like this:

Straight Bar Curls

30lb x 20, 35lb x 18, 40lb x 16, 45 x 14, 50 x 12, 55 x 10

Spider Curls

14lb x 20, 14lb x 20, 14lb x 20, 14lb x 20

Cable machine (short) Straight Bar Curl (elbows flared out as opposed to pinned to sides like first (long) straight bar exercise)

50lb x 20, 40lb x 20, 30lb x 20, 20lb until failure

Most Effective Tricep Exercises:

Triceps need to balance biceps, if not eclipse them in training, as they are a much larger and more dominant muscle group.

Some great tricep work might include some of the following routines:

Flat Bench Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

8lb x 20, 10lb x 16, 12lb x 12, 14lb x 10

Cable Tricep Pushdown with (short) Straight Bar

30lb x 16, 40lb x 14, 50lb x 12, 60lb to failure

Most Effective Forearms Exercises:

Forearms don’t need to be trained as much as biceps and triceps because they are so slow-twitch dominant that they get worked best when being forced to grip heavy loads, like when doing deadlifts and shrugs.

Still, there are movements that can be done once a week or so to augment heavy lifting to stimulate more forearm growth.

All the work below is in the very high rep range, as this is required to squeeze any burn out of this stubborn muscle group.

Dumbbell Top Wrist Contractions

8lb x 25, 8lb x 25, 8lb x 25, 8lb x 25

*superset the above with:

Dumbbell Bottom Wrist Curls

8lb x 25, 8lb x 25, 8lb x 25, 8lb x 25

Rope Curl Finisher

3 sets of rolling rope up and downs in a controlled fashion

Top Tools & Gym Equipment Sustained Growth

The gym is nothing but a bunch of gravity-dependent tools. Use these tools the correct way (dialed form, reps, sets) and feed your body the food it needs, and YOU WILL GROW. That is biology. We respond to stress by beating it.

So what tools are best for maximizing arm growth? Well, the conventional arm tools found in most gyms include the following:

  • EZ Curl Bar
  • Straight Curl Bars
  • Dumbells
  • Cable Machines
  • High-volume pulling exercises like deadlifts, barbell rows, and even weighted pull-ups.

These various pieces of equipment are all used in the exercises described above, as well as most conventional arm work that can be done in traditional gyms. For some, like pull-ups, you can buy your own bar to install at home to increase your access and thus the volume of back training, which indirectly maintains strong forearm growth as well.

There are other tools, though, that you can purchase to either bring to the gym to augment your in-gym work or that you can use at home to train your arms when you don’t have access to the gym.

We break these tools into the “physical,” which includes items that mechanically tax your muscles, and “chemical,” which includes supplements that biologically help grow your arm muscles.

Arm Blaster Workouts & Benefits

One of the biggest reasons guys aren’t getting the growth out of their arms is that they let their egos get in the way.

Ego lifting results in the lifting of so much weight, more than the lifter can actually handle, to the point where form “cheating ” is necessary.

When training arms, cheating is most often seen in the swaying of the body to use momentum to swing the weight up. We also see elbows swing back and forth to gain mechanical advantage.

No products found.

Bodybuilding is never about cheating; it is about making this as hard as possible because it is only through this direct stimulation that our muscles will tear and rebuild stronger.

When you cheat on form, you cheat on growth.

The Arm Blaster is a relatively new tool, at least available to the public, that is a godsend for form-cheaters as it forces the wearer to keep their elbows at a fixed point when doing curls

Sure, the wearer can still swing their torso to gain momentum, but at least we are keeping our elbows fixed, which keeps tension focused on the bicep where it should be!

Top Reviewed Arm Blasters on Amazon

1. Body Solid BB23 Bicep Bomber

We like the BB23 Bomber because it has a little more curve at the ends, which helps prevent your elbows from flaring out.

Other arm blaster bars are a little flatter, which works better for broader chests, but when wet and sweaty, can leave your elbows slipping off the ends.

Body Solid (BB23) Arm Blaster for Biceps & Triceps - Heavy Duty Workout Bicep Bomber Curl Support Isolator - Exercise Equipment
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The BB23 gets our vote of approval for the extra curvature at the tips for a more secure fit. This is the perfect blaster for guys with normal-sized arms and who have a tendency for their elbows to flair out.

2. Core Prodigy Cannon Curl

The Core Prodigy is a solid, well-built arm blaster that utilizes a heavy gauge aluminum and double thick elbow pads set on a wider, less curved bar.

The relative flatness of this bar compared to others means it’s better for men with broader chests or just huge mofos in general who have way more “width” than the average Skinny Yoked reader.

This blaster is perfect for lifters with broad chests or generally broad rib cages.

3. Legendary Workout Arm Blaster

While the first product is unique in its curvature, and the second is unique in its width and flatness, the Arm Blaster from Legendary Workout is unique in its rounded edges.

If you look closely at many other arm blaster products, you’ll notice the edges are often more or less square. The edges of the Legendary Workout product, on the other hand, are much more rounded.

If you are a hobbyist or amateur lifting, this won’t matter much; however, if you already have THICK arms, particularly wide triceps, then something with a rounded corner will be more practical as it won’t dig into the overflow of muscle that may be hanging over the edges.

Oh, and unfortunately, this product comes with gloves. Go ahead and give those to your girlfriend; you won’t be needing those.

This blaster is best for guys with massive arms/tons of existing tricep mass.

4. Bradley Martyn Official Arm Blaster

There aren’t many unique design aspects to this blaster, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less effective than the above products.

The Bradley Martyn Arm Blaster does everything well and is tested up to 300 lbs. Oh, and it comes in gold. Yes, GOLD!

No products found.

The Bradley Martyn Arm Blaster is perfect for the average lifter who likes a little bit of bling-bling.

Additional Forearm & Grip Building Equipment

While the above focuses on building your biceps, there are already a ton of tools at your disposal at your local gym for building your biceps and triceps.

The forearms, however, are a slightly different monster as many gyms don’t have anything outside of dumbbells to use to help build forearms, which are essential for building strong grip strength.

Plus, having huge biceps/triceps but tiny forearms makes you look like you got chicken arms (read this leg-building guide if you also have chicken legs), similar to having big quads/hams but no calves.

There are various tools you can use to build both forearm grip strength as well as overall forearm diameter. With the following, you’ll be looking like Popeye in no time!

Best Grip-Enhancing Products on Amazon

1. Fat Gripz by Fat Gripz

These guys are the original, and Skinny Yoked is all about supporting creators and innovators, so we have to recommend the original Fat Gripz as the go-to forearm augmentation tool.

Simply pop them in your gym bag and bust them out when you’re doing arm-specific work with regular barbells. This includes both narrow grip bench pressing (great tricep-building exercise!) or curls for your biceps.

Fat Gripz Pro (2.25”) - The Simple Proven Way to Get Big Biceps & Forearms Fast
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Fat Gripz Pro (2.25”) - The Simple Proven Way to Get Big Biceps & Forearms Fast
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Gripz last forever and are regularly promoted by guys like Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, so you know you are in safe hands  with these grips

2. Iron Bull Strength Alpha Grips 3.0

We are recommending these because while they are not “the original” grip builders, they have evolved the design slightly to make it more comfortable for some lifters.

Just like Apple never invents anything, they simply refine the existing successful tech, the Alpha Grips 3.0 have taken regular fat grips to a new level.

They come in a wide variety of colors and have a unique, slightly rounded curved shape that provides a more ergonomic feel in the hand.

Iron Bull Strength Alpha Grips 3.0 - Extreme Arm Blaster - Best Dumbbell and Barbell Thick Bar Adapter (Black)
  • BUILD BIGGER, STRONGER ARMS: The Alpha Grips will instantly recruit more muscle fibers in your arms and forearms by increasing the diameter of any barbells, dumbbells, cable attachments and exercise machine handles. Using fat grips is the equivalent of...

The debate between flat grips and ergonomic grips has raged for years. You see, dumbbell manufacturers produce straight grips and ergonomics, the same with cable machine grip attachments. Well, the debate now extends to grip builders.

Highly Reviewed Grip Trainers on Amazon

In addition to tools that augment existing equipment like the above fat grips, there is a whole world of grip-specific isolation tools that focus on grip and forearm strength.

Building grip strength takes time. Sure, you build when you lift heavy, but you may not always have the energy to lift super heavy, nor do you always have access to a ton of weight and a squat rack.

This is where grip isolation work comes into play, as with all of the below tools, you can work your grip strength out almost anywhere, from the car to the office to the couch.

If you’re going to be watching Netflix, why not build your forearms at the same time?

1. Classic Spring Grip Strengtheners

Many would say professional bodybuilders achieved perfection in the ’70s and ’80s. Part of this obviously is the balance of gear used, but part of it was also a dedication to old-school lifting techniques.

In the world of bodybuilding, the saying “don’t mess with a good thing” applies more than many other aspects of life.

From heavy barbell work to sweating out cardio on resistance bikes, the “old school” tools got the job done and still do.

Spring-loaded grip trainers like the above set from Heavy Sports are great because they are:

  1. Progressive: Building in Resistance
  2. Simple: They won’t break; there are no moving parts here
  3. Strong: They’re pure metal. They last forever.

You can’t go wrong with a set of spring-loaded grip builders with iron grips, as they not only build your hands but keep your callouses in tip-top strength too! No Nancy hands here!

2. Gripmaster Hand Exerciser by Gripmaster

Gripmaster, they are the masters of grip, get it?

While spring-loaded trainers are great because of their simplicity, they are also thus slightly limited in that they train all the fingers simultaneously.

This is nice as it places all more emphasis on the forearm itself, but not so great if you want to add a bit of diversity to your arm training.

The Gripmaster and Gripmaster Pro have been around forever and have won a loyal fan base because of their unique ability to allow the user to train each digit independently.

Having individual finger buttons means you can roll your squeeze on and off or squeeze all at once, mixing up how you stimulate your forearms.

The flexibility of independent finger movement is fantastic. However, the resistance itself is not adjustable, so, like the spring-operated units, you will need to buy new ones as you progress and build your strength.

This isn’t all that bad, though, as they’re quite cheap.

3. Hand Resistance Bands by Airisland

While all of the above grip trainers focus on the squeezing and contraction of the inner forearm, these resistance bands by Airisland focus on the opening of the digits, which places a whole new strain on the top part of your forearm.

Just like the contraction and the stretch are equally important while lifting weight, the contraction and opening of the hand are equally important for building balanced forearm strength.

Airisland Finger Stretcher Hand Resistance Bands Hand Extensor Exerciser Finger Grip Strengthener Strength Trainer Gripper Set for Arthritis Carpal Tunnel Exercise Guitar and Rock Climbing 3pcs
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Airisland Finger Stretcher Hand Resistance Bands Hand Extensor Exerciser Finger Grip Strengthener Strength Trainer Gripper Set for Arthritis Carpal Tunnel Exercise Guitar and Rock Climbing 3pcs
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Who doesn’t love resistance bands? We use the to warm up, we use them to mix up our squat and bench routines, and now we can use them in conjunction with other traditional arm training tools to build our grip strength as well.

Wrist Rollers: Unsung Heros of Forearm Building Equipment

Wrist rollers are some of the most old-school forearm grip-building tools around. Most old-school gyms will have a couple of well-used wooden dowels with ropes lying around to which you can tie some smaller plate weights.

These types of forearm trainers are great because they put enormous time under tension loads on your slow-twitch forearms, which makes for one helluva crazy burn and leaves you with a throbbing full-arm pump.

Forearm-specific tools are rare and are nice because they complement upper arm work perfectly, not only destroying your forearms but engaging your front deltoids as well as you hold your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor when using these tools.

The Wrist Ripper is one of the more popular models available for purchase.

Wrist Ripper - The Ultimate Wrist Roller/Wrist and Forearm Exerciser
  • The Wrist Ripper is a wrist roller exercise product that puts a new twist on one of the oldest and most effective ways to strengthen the hands, wrists and forearms. The WristRipper has many added improvements over homemade and other wrist roller products...

The bar has round ends to stop your hands from sliding off, and it comes with a seatbelt-strong strap and carabiner for quick and easy loading and unloading of weight plates.

Another nice aspect about the Wrist Ripper is that the seatbelt is a ribbon. This means it lays flat as it spools up and doesn’t bunch up like round rope/cable has a tendency to do.

Someone was really using their noggin when they designed this thing.

Sure, it may not be the cheapest thing in the book, and you COULD always build your own wrist roller with a quick trip to your local hardware store; however, in terms of a ready-to-use solution that will last years, “tha ripper” is a solid choice.

>Check out our guide to wrist straps if your forearms are giving out early in your pull days

Chemical Enhancement Options

While the above items were all physical in nature and are designed to mechanically aid in building your arms, the below products are chemical in nature and designed to enhance your pump from the inside out.

In combination with a regular workout, healthy diet, sufficient protein, and the above tools, the following supplements make great additions to maximize your arm workouts.

1. Pump-Inducing Pre-workouts

Pre-workouts. We’re all addicted, and if you’re not, you are lying. There are pre-workouts for all occasions; some focus more on a “smack-the-snot-out-of-you” upfront jolt of caffeine.

Others are designed to make you go HULK mode once actually in the gym, like GAT’s Nitraflex, which we recently reviewed as one of the most “go apeshit” pre-workouts on the market.

For arm training in particular, though, it’s more about chasing that glorious pump than it is going berzerk. Nitraflex or even something like B-Nox Androrush by Betancourt, which we’re also fans of, by the way, are great for prepping for a big back or leg day.

For pure nitric oxide production and vein-popping pumps, though, our favorite supplement by far is the caffeine-free High Volume by PE Science.

PE Science is known for making quality products. Their protein, for example, has a perfect ratio of slow-digesting casein and faster-digesting isolate and tastes ridiculously good.

High Volume is PE Sciences pump product. It is caffeine free, so you can stack it with another pre-workout which we like.

PEScience High Volume Nitric Oxide Booster Pre Workout Powder with L Arginine Nitrate, Cotton Candy, 36 Scoops, Caffeine Free
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PEScience High Volume Nitric Oxide Booster Pre Workout Powder with L Arginine Nitrate, Cotton Candy, 36 Scoops, Caffeine Free
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For example, we often train arms at the end of a back day. So we end up taking a pre-workout with caffeine before training back for 40-50 minutes.

At this point, we start arms but don’t want to ingest even more caffeine.

High Volume can be downed towards the end of our back workout to provide an excellent pump for our arm finisher movements.

What Not to Do/Common Mistakes to Avoid

We want to focus on actionable exercises, tools, and regimens that will help you build your arms.

We don’t like being negative, but we feel we should cover a few of the most common pitfalls that bodybuilders stumble into during their pursuit of the “swolly grail” of arm gains.

Mistake #1: Going Too Heavy Too Soon

We’re all about going heavy. You NEED to go heavy once and a while to maintain your growth over time.

Heavy lifts, though, are most beneficial when applied to compound movements where large muscle groups with the support of complimentary muscle groups can safely move big weights. Think bench, squat, deadlift.

Curls, on the other hand, are isolation exercises. They put all (well, 95%) of the focus on one muscle: the biceps, and the biceps aren’t a huge muscle group by any means.

biceps tear
via Calum Von Moger Instagram

This means proper form and a long time-under-tension should be your goals. In loading up way too much weight, you not only won’t impress anyone, but you will also most likely swing your body and cheat on your form, thus sabotaging your gains train.

Additionally, going too heavy and too fast with things like curls is seriously dangerous as they frequently result in bicep tendon tears.

These injuries not only look nasty but require surgery to repair and take months to heal from. Just ask Calum Von Moger, as he tore his bicep, which set him back huge, simply by showing off with Chris Bumstead.

*Thanks though, guys, we love the channel, and that was some impressive “group curling” while it lasted!

Mistake #2: Developing Imbalances

Just like guys who focus too much on their chest and forget their back inevitably have bad posture long run, as their chests curve inwards, it is important to keep arm balance as well.

For every chest day, you need an opposing back day to keep your muscles in balance so neither group can take over and “become dominant,” which long run, messes up posture and even, ultimately, lifting ability.

come at me bro

Don’t only focus on your biceps, as tempting as it may be. Train your triceps the same amount, if not more than your biceps, as they are actually a much larger muscle group and super important in lifts involving pressing motions.

Plus, huge biceps with tiny triceps looks funny, the same as over-developed triceps but under-developed biceps. Always strive for symmetry!

Mistake #3: Neglecting Other Muscle Groups

Yes, by this point, it is abundantly clear that having big arms is not only great at improving your overall lifting abilities and impressing both men and women alike but also makes for a more impressive, complete physique.

Still, arms never “made the man.” Big arms are great COMPLIMENTS to an overall yoked physique. Do not get fixated on your arms at the expense of trap, deltoid, or chest development.

We’ve written before about how important focusing on building deltoids can be to creating a more impressive, more aesthetic physique.

Likewise, building up your traps should also be a focus as they not only help blend the neck into the shoulders and create a Bane-like back, but they will also require arm work to build!

skinny guy supplements

That’s right, arm training doesn’t always have to be isolation-oriented. By focusing on building your traps with rack pulls, shrugs, and static holds, you will simultaneously be training your arms.

In the end, big ass arms, when married to big rounded shoulders and thick popping traps, all tie together to create levels of ‘mirrin not seen since the Zyzz graced this earth.

Last update on 2024-06-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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