Your active lifestyle begins and ends with your arms, so the stronger they are, the better. A good arm workout, no matter how you do it, should include a few things: a clear goal, a set schedule and the right mix of intensity and dedication. The best way to stay dedicated and focused on your goal is to work out as often as possible. A five-day workout plan for your arms keeps you focused, but you have to set it up the right way to see progress from your hard work. For a five-day plan, rest after Day 2, Day 4 and Day 5 to let your muscles heal.
Sets and Reps
The number of sets and reps will vary depending on your experience and your goals. When starting out, don’t lift until your muscles fail. Do a test set of each exercise and perform reps until you feel the target muscles tighten and it gets uncomfortable to complete the motion. Use the number of reps from this test set as your guide. The sets and reps you use for each exercise depend on whether you want to get bigger or last longer. Use heavy weights with a low number of reps to pump up, or use light weights with a high number of reps to develop muscle endurance. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Triceps, Days 1 and 3
There’s an old adage for weight lifters that the biceps get all the glory while the triceps do all the work. This isn’t all that far from the truth. The triceps are one of the most functional muscles in the body, and you’ll need to hit yours hard to build a strong foundation for your arm workouts. The specific exercises you do are less important than targeting certain muscle groups on certain days. For your triceps, the best exercises span both free-weight workouts and isometric motions. Mix in any combination of triceps dips, overhead extensions, close-armed pushups, close-grip bench presses or military presses. Do three to four exercises on Day 1 and Day 3.
Biceps, Days 2 and 4
There's a good reason that biceps get all the glory: they’re the most visible muscle in the arm. Defined, sculpted biceps go a long way to improving how you feel about your level of fitness. For Days 2 and 4, focus on targeting the biceps with three or four exercises each day. You can use any routines that work the biceps, but a few exercises are the cream of the crop. These best biceps workouts include standing biceps curls, unassisted pullups, seated preacher curls, bent-over rows, lying barbell curls and hammer curls. Use an EZ-Grip barbell or dumbbells for curling exercises to protect your wrists from fatigue and injury.
Full Arm, Day 5
After a rest day following Day 4, use your last workout day of the week for an all-around arm workout. Both the biceps and triceps will be rested and ready to go, and since you’ll have another rest day after the workout, it’s the perfect time to hit everything all at once. You can choose any combo from the exercises you’ve done on the previous days, but do an equal balance of each. For example, a Day 5 routine may include overhead triceps extensions, triceps dips, close-grip bench presses, standing biceps curls, pullups and hammer curls. For the full-arm workout, group the muscles together. Do your triceps routines, then do your biceps routines, or vice versa.
Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.