If you want to build stronger arms (and what athlete doesn’t?), you’ve got to work from the inside out. That means your focus should start with your core and work through your shoulders and arms. Keep in mind that to build strength and power – for most exercises – you will want to work with a weight that challenges you for 4-6 repetitions per set (and may require a spotter). Maintain good form and technique, perform the exercises with a full range-of motion, and allow adequate rest between sets.
Here are 6 ways to build stronger arms:
- It all starts with your legs. Yes, I know this article is supposed to be about arm strength, but don’t neglect your core and lower body (more on this in an upcoming article). Whether you want to improve your jump shot, throwing velocity, or bat speed, strong arms can’t compensate for a weak core and legs. Exercises like squats and deadlifts will help you build the leg drive necessary to hit those three-point shots, throw fastballs past the opposing hitter, or drive the ball over the outfielders’ heads.
- Hit the bench. The bench press exercise is a gold-standard upper-body exercise for a reason. At Athletic Performance Training Center (APTC), we like the barbell flat bench press as our preferred bilateral, upper-body exercise.
- Work both sides. Unilateral exercises help to ensure that your “weak” side is working as hard as your strong side. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and perform the dumbbell flat bench press exercise. For variety, you can do this exercise simultaneously, alternating, or iso-laterally (one arm at a time). Alternate with the barbell bench press so that one week you perform the exercise with a barbell, and the next with dumbbells.
- Row your boat. Agonist-antagonist paired sets – pairing exercises that work opposing muscle groups – are a great way to build strength and reduce the incidence of injury by strengthening the muscles around a joint. Exercises like the bent-over barbell row, dumbbell row, and seated cable row should be included with the bench press exercises. Dumbbell and cable rows can also be performed unilaterally.
- Push it up. Shoulder presses, with a barbell or dumbbells, work the muscles of the upper-body and arms differently (in a different plane) than the bench press – vertically instead of horizontally. Perform this exercise standing, and not sitting, to get more of your core involved.
- Pull it down. Like bench presses and rows, shoulder presses can be paired with lat pull-downs (bilateral or unilateral), chin-ups, or pull-ups. Chin-ups and pull-ups are challenging, but you can start by doing them with a band or spotter.
Here’s a bonus. Don’t overlook good old-fashioned pushups. You can do them anywhere, and there are about a million variations. We still incorporate them into our training regimen at APTC.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!