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How to build arm muscle: fitness trainers answer the most Googled questions

Is there a more satisfying feeling than single-handedly carrying all of your shopping home? If there is, we haven’t found it, and it’s all thanks to having a strong upper body.

Those strong arms are also responsible for being able to carry your parcels upstairs and juggle your gym kit, handbag and lunchbox on the tube. So how do you get those biceps and triceps even stronger? You might be pleased to know that there’s more to it than doing countless curls (although they do come into it).

Every week we ask the trainers from Stylist Strong some of the most-asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. This week, we asked how to build impressively strong arms.

HOW CAN YOU BUILD ARM MUSCLE?
ALICE MILLER, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Your arms are mainly made up of your biceps in the front and your triceps in the back. We work our biceps when we do pulling movements, like a pull-up or any version of a row, including upright or bent over. Once you’ve nailed them, you can add in more isolated movements like bicep curls.

“Our triceps work when we do pushing movements, like an overhead pressing or push-ups. Again, you can target them more specifically by doing tricep extensions, or narrow push ups. I really love doing body weight dips, either on a bar or on a bench, to hit the back of the arms, too.”

TESS GLYNNE-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Compound lifts and big moves are the best for building upper body muscle. That means things like bench press, press-ups, overhead press, bent-over rows, upright rows, lat pulldowns and pull-ups.

“If you’re looking to get more defined biceps and triceps, which are the main muscles in our arms, you can do isolating movements like bicep curls, tricep dips and tricep extensions.”

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN ARMS?
ALICE MILLER, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“We need to make sure we kind of hit those muscles multiple times a week. If you could get in two push and pull sessions a week, plus a couple of lower body sessions, you’d really be working on that strength.”

TESS GLYNNE-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“I think three times a week is a good place to start with your overall sessions. With those, include the upper body and lower body compound moves firstly, and if you have time then you can go onto your isolation exercises.

“When you’re building muscle, you want to be working in the hypertrophy range, which is between eight to 12 reps. I would do anything from three to five sets but the more sets you do, the more volume you’re getting in, so you’re probably going to build muscle faster.”