If your biceps look small compared to your forearms, it’s time to make arm training a priority in the gym. Perform bicep exercises early in your workout to help build this lagging muscle. It’s important to train your triceps as well in order to build more massive arms. Make sure to do arm exercises for 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps to encourage muscle growth. Also, pay close attention to your form so your forearms aren’t compensating for weaker biceps. Forming this mind-muscle connection will help you build bigger, stronger biceps.
Table of Contents
Why are Your Forearms Bigger Than Your Biceps?
If your forearms are larger and more defined than your biceps, it’s typically because you haven’t truly focused on your biceps with weight training. Your forearms may be naturally more developed due to genetics or your sport of choice. For instance, rock climbing builds forearm muscle but typically doesn’t focus on the biceps.
- Large, defined forearms may be due to genetics or the sports you play.
- Your upper arms have the capacity to grow much larger than your forearms.
- The best way to build your biceps and triceps larger than your forearms is through weight training.
The good news is, your upper arms (including both the biceps and triceps muscles) have far more potential for muscle mass than your forearms. There’s simply more muscle there to work with. So, with the right exercises and technique, you build your biceps larger than your forearms.
Do Forearms Grow With Biceps?
Although we’ll cover a training routine designed to focus on building your biceps and triceps, your forearms will get a workout as well. This is because your forearms are the source of your grip strength. Any time you’re gripping a weight, you’re working your forearms in addition to other muscles.
- Your forearms will be worked as a secondary muscle during almost all bicep exercises.
- Any time you are gripping a heavy weight, your forearms will receive a workout.
- Your forearms may get bigger and stronger from working out, but your biceps will grow bigger faster.
Most upper body workouts that target the biceps muscle also work the forearm. Gripping a weight during curls or holding onto the bar during pull-ups works your forearm muscles. This is okay. With the correct form, you’ll get a far better workout for your biceps than your forearms. This will allow you to build your upper arms bigger than your forearms.
7 Tips to Correct Big Forearms and Small Biceps
If you’re looking to build bigger, stronger arms so that your biceps are bigger than your forearms, it’s time to hit the gym. The tips below are essential, but as with any weightlifting program, they should be combined with a healthy, high-protein diet and plenty of rest in order to fuel muscle growth.
Prioritize Your Biceps
When you go to the gym, make bicep isolation exercises the first thing you do on days that include bicep work. By working on a lagging muscle first, you will be at your freshest physically and mentally. This will allow you to put maximum effort into bicep work, which in turn stimulates growth. Bicep exercises should be included as part of a total body workout plan, but it’s okay to shake things up and put biceps first if building bigger biceps is your number one goal.
- On gym days that include bicep exercises, do them first.
- The first muscle you work will receive your best effort, which translates to more strength and size gains.
- Try bicep exercises such as concentration curls, barbell curls, and dumbbell hammer curls.
Some good bicep exercises to include in your routine are the barbell curl, concentration curl, and hammer curl. Keep in mind, your biceps will also be worked by back exercises such as rows and pull-ups, so don’t neglect these movements either.
Don’t Forget the Triceps
If you want your upper arms to be bigger than your forearms, you can’t work only your biceps. Your triceps (the muscles on the back of your upper arm) are actually bigger than your biceps. The biceps muscles make up only 30% of upper arm size while the triceps are responsible for a whopping 55% of upper arm mass. The remaining 15% is mostly bone. So, build your upper arms bigger by including triceps-isolating exercises.
- Don’t focus on biceps exercises only—you should perform an equal amount of tricep-focused exercises.
- Your triceps muscle is almost twice as large as your biceps, making it critical for building upper arms that are larger than your forearms.
- Skullcrushers, close-grip bench press, and dumbbell french press are all excellent triceps exercises.
Some good triceps exercises include the french press, skullcrushers, tricep kickbacks, and close-grip bench press. However, your triceps will be worked during any exercise with a pushing motion. Almost all chest and shoulder exercises will also provide a workout for your triceps.
Perform Optimal Sets and Reps
Now that you know to work both biceps and triceps, as well as what exercises to do for them, how many should you do? When training biceps, triceps, and any other muscle group to increase its size, perform 3–5 sets of each exercise. Each set should be 8–12 reps. Allow for 90 seconds of rest between sets.
- To increase arm muscle size perform 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps for each bicep and tricep exercise.
- Rest for 90 seconds between sets.
- Follow an established weightlifting program to get your adequate sets and reps.
If this is all sounding a little complicated, don’t worry. An established weightlifting program will take care of this for you. If you’re torn between programs, such as PHUL vs PPL, know that both of them will afford you opportunities to train your arms. They also include built-in rest between workouts. Choosing one of these programs is much better than trying to invent your own.
Progressively Overload Your Muscles
In addition to optimizing your sets and reps, it’s key to push your biceps and triceps by adding more weight to the exercise as you get stronger. Start with a weight you can comfortably lift for 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps. Then, gradually increase the weight. Once you conquer your goal sets and reps with your current weight, make the barbell or dumbbell heavier next time you tackle the exercise.
- Begin your arm exercises at a weight you can complete for your goal sets and reps with good form.
- Add more weight to the exercise after completing your goal sets and reps at the current weight.
- Pushing your muscles with progressive overload will cause your biceps and triceps to grow larger than your forearms.
By progressively overloading your muscles with more weight, you continue to challenge them. This turns a simple exercise like bicep curls into a massive feat of strength, but it also drives increases in muscle mass and strength. If you want your biceps to get bigger than your forearms, gradually train your biceps to lift heavier weights.
Practice Strict Form
Check out tutorial videos from accomplished weightlifters so you can learn the basics for each arm exercise, then stick to the form. From starting position to finish, focus on form. Cheating with bad form puts you at risk of injury and results in a worse workout. In fact, practicing bad form on bicep lifts can cause you to use your forearm muscles. This will prevent you from growing larger biceps and will make your forearms larger instead.
- Watch tutorial videos for arm exercises in order to dial in proper form.
- Maintain good form every time you lift.
- Improper form on some upper arm exercises may recruit your forearms.
- Work slowly and keep your back straight during arm exercises to maintain good form.
During bicep and tricep exercises, keep your back straight, lower the weight slowly during the downward movement of the exercise, and avoid twisting or bending your back during the upward movement. This will make sure the focus of the exercise stays on the intended muscle.
Focus on the Mind-Muscle Connection
Hand-in-hand with good form is the mind-muscle connection. During bicep exercises, focus on your bicep muscle, keeping it tense and active throughout. This habit develops your ability to flex and engage these muscles, which results in a better workout.
- Focus on the primary muscle of the exercise throughout each rep (Ex. during curls, focus on your biceps).
- This focus will help engage the desired muscle and get a better workout.
- Lack of focus on a single muscle can allow your strong forearms to lift the weight.
If you don’t focus on the muscle being worked by the exercise, you’ll often compensate for weak muscles with stronger ones. If your only goal is moving the weight, your forearms will compensate for less developed biceps and triceps. Prevent your upper arm training days from turning into a forearm workout by staying focused on the muscles you want to build.
Get Adequate Nutrition and Rest
No workout plan is effective if you’re not taking care of yourself outside of the gym. When weight training, follow a high-protein diet. This means you should be eating 1.2–1.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This includes days you’re in the gym as well as days off. Your biceps need protein in order to recover from the workout and grow larger.
- Eat a high-protein diet that includes 1.2–1.7 grams of protein per pound you weigh every day.
- Sleep at least 8 hours each night.
- Allow 2–3 recovery days after working a particular muscle before working it again. You can work other muscles in the meantime.
It’s also critical to allow your muscles to rest between workouts. Take 2–3 recovery days before working the same muscle group. So, if you worked your biceps on Monday, don’t work them again until Thursday or Friday. In between, you can work other muscles, such as your triceps, chest, shoulders, and legs. You should also include rest days so you can recover from time spent in the gym.
How to Correct Biceps that are Smaller than Your Forearms
If your forearms are larger than your biceps, you can correct this by building bigger biceps with weight training. Here’s how:
- Prioritize bicep exercises by making them the first muscle you target to start a workout.
- Train triceps as well as biceps to build bigger upper arms.
- Do 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps to maximize muscle mass increases.
- Gradually add more weight to arm exercises as you grow stronger.
- Make sure you practice strict form during bicep and tricep exercises.
- Form a mind-muscle connection by focusing on your biceps during bicep exercises.
- Eat a high protein diet to fuel muscle growth.
- Get adequate rest by allowing 2–3 days of recovery before working the same muscle again.
This may seem like a lot of information at first, but take it step by step. By following these keys to success, you’ll be able to build bigger biceps to go along with your strong forearms.