Well-defined, cut arms are not only functional but they look phenomenal, which makes them a top focal point for many bodybuilders and workout enthusiasts. The biceps and triceps – the primary muscle groups of the arms – are antagonistic, or partner, muscles that counterbalance each other; one relaxes while the other contracts. Together they bend and straighten the elbow. The deltoids, or shoulders, assist the arms in both movement and appearance by lending to an overall balanced upper body. Achieving cut, defined arms means working all three muscle groups on a regular basis.
Preacher curl bench
Perform a five- to 10-minute warm up consisting of light to moderate cardiovascular activity at the beginning of your workout to get the blood flowing to your muscles. Follow your training session with a 15-minute stretching session to help your muscles release and recover.
Consult with a health care provider before starting a new training program or increasing the intensity of a current program. Inform your doctor of any injuries or chronic health conditions.
Train your biceps, triceps and deltoids two to three times per week to maximize muscle development. Use a resistance level that allows you to work to failure, which is the point where you cannot perform another repetition with correct form; the weight should allow you to complete at least eight repetitions but not more than 12. Mix up your fitness program to include a variety of strength-training exercises for each muscle group. Wait at least 48 hours before working a specific muscle group again, so that your muscles have an ability to recover and repair.
Utilize curling exercises to develop your biceps, the highly visible two-headed muscle group on the front of your upper arm. The biceps are responsible for elbow flexion, elbow supination and shoulder flexion. Train the biceps with barbells and dumbbells to also work the brachialis and brachioradialis, which are the supporting muscles that lie between the biceps and triceps. BodyBuilding.com lists the top four biceps mass builders as the standing barbell curl, one-arm preacher curl, incline dumbbell curl and the hammer curl; include two to three of these exercises in each biceps training session.
Work your triceps with pushing exercises. The triceps are a three-headed muscle group located on the back of your upper arm, which serves to extend the elbow. The triceps and biceps work in harmony to properly move your arm and shoulder, and both muscle groups should be given equal attention. Train all three heads of the triceps – the long, medial and lateral heads – for greater muscle mass and definition. Include pushdowns, skull crushers and triceps extension exercises in your fitness program for cut arms.
Strengthen all three heads of the deltoids, the front, middle and back, to achieve broad and sleek shoulders. Strong shoulders can help the arms to be more agile, and a developed shoulder girdle lends to the prevention of upper body injuries during athletic activity. Perform shoulder-building exercises that effectively encourage shoulder growth, such as the military press, dumbbell shoulder press and the hang clean and press.
Perform at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week to burn total body fat, which will help make your arms look more cut. Spread the cardio out over three to five days in a week, and sustain a moderate to intense pace throughout the sessions. Choose your favorite form of exercise, which will help you to stick with your program. Examples of effective cardio include running, brisk walking, jumping rope, bicycling and swimming.
Things You'll Need
- Muscle & Strength: Ultimate Triceps Training: Increase Your Arm Size In 16 Weeks
- BodyBuilding.com: Want Big Biceps: Here’s How to Get Them
- Education.com: Muscle Interactions: Pairing of the Biceps and Triceps
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Muscle & Strength: The Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Shoulder Mass
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.