Having huge arms is a common dream shared by both men and women from all across the whole world.
Big arms have acted as a symbol of strength and fitness for generations now, and it is no secret that this is usually something that is sought after by the opposite sex.
Whatever your reason for wanting big arms – we are here to help. Despite popular belief, building huge arms through calisthenics is entirely possible, and after you have digested the contents of this article, there is no doubt that you will share in this sentiment too.
Let’s jump right into it.
Why You Can Build Huge Arms Through Calisthenics & The Fundamentals of Building Muscle
For one reason or another, many people out there believe that it is impossible to build huge arms through just calisthenics alone. Whilst this may be true in a few cases where an individual may have been misinformed and done certain things incorrectly when following the right information, this is just not the case.
Building muscle through calisthenics works the exact same way as if you were to go to the gym, and the mechanics behind the two are one and the same.
The primary drivers behind muscle building are progressive overload, consistency, and having a good diet. All of these factors can be achieved through both calisthenics and the traditional gym route, and if you intend to build big arms, then you will be able to do so whichever route you take.
This whole notion of calisthenics being worse for muscle building is entirely untrue, and in reality, it has more than likely stopped an endless number of people from getting started.
What Actually Contributes to Having “Big Arms”?
Before telling you a few of the various methods you can employ in order to get big arms, let’s first take a look at what actually contributes to getting huge arms.
Of course, the most immediate answer that may sprout out to you when hearing this question is simply arms that are larger than average, and whilst this may be technically true, following this goal may not give you the results you were looking for.
For example, if all you truly cared about is overall arm size and mass then there is nothing stopping you from gaining 100 pounds. Sure, you may now be overweight or obese, but there is no doubt that your arms will have also gotten huge in this process too.
So, why is it that we are not in awe of every overweight person we see on the street? Well, this would be down to proportion.
Even though overweight people may have much bigger arms than average, it doesn’t look like they do due to the fact that they are in proportion with their bodies. Following this, it only makes sense to say that having large arms is mainly down to proportion, and this gives us a much better idea as to what we should be aiming for.
When it comes to the primary muscles that can be used to achieve the “big arms” look, the main two areas that will be the most impactful are the biceps are triceps.
These two muscle groups make up the entirety of the arm, and focusing on exercises that target these muscle groups is essential for developing strong and powerful arms.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that these are the only two areas you should focus on if you are starting your fitness journey, and doing so will make you end up with an incredibly out-of-balance physique.
Creating a body that is well-balanced and strong overall will bring you way more satisfaction than just having big arms, and even though you may not be aware of this truth as things stand now, this is something you will come to appreciate more and more throughout your calisthenics journey.
Your Arms Will Only Ever Be as Big as Your Meals
A common mistake many new calisthenics practitioners, as well as gym-goers, make is focusing solely on working out and not paying any attention to diet.
In reality, this is the wrong approach entirely, and the chances of you getting impressive arms without learning how to create an effective diet are slim to none.
To build muscle, there are a few key variables that you have to manage in order to ensure you maximise your potential and give your body all of the nutrients it needs.
First and foremost, you need to make sure you are eating in a calorie surplus/over your maintenance calories. This guarantees that your muscles have all the necessary building blocks to get bigger and stronger, and without a calorie surplus, any progress you make will be few and far between.
This doesn’t mean you just need to eat everything in sight to make sure you are hitting your goals, and if anything, this will just lead you to put on a ton of unnecessary fat.
A slight surplus of 250-500 is all you need to build muscle, and as long as you stay in this range, you will make exceptional progress relatively quickly.
On top of a calorie surplus, eating a diet rich in protein is essential. The science behind what the right amount of protein to eat is is constantly changing, and this topic has been a hot topic for debate for years now.
However, as long as you try to eat a diet rich in meat, fish, and eggs (or any of their vegan alternatives) then you should be just fine.
Do not make the detrimental mistake of forgoing diet and thinking you will be able to get away with it – you won’t. Of course, sticking to a diet, in the long run, is not going to be easy, and this is something that you are going to have to figure out by yourself for the most part.
One aspect that can make sticking to a diet that little bit easier is to just make sure it’s full of foods you know and love. This can even mean indulging in a little junk food from time to time or going out to your favourite restaurant – as long as you don’t go drastically over your calorie budget every day, then you will be getting the physique of your dreams in no time.
The Most Effective Calisthenics Arm Exercises
Now we have gone over diet, we can finally get onto the fun part; calisthenics exercises.
There are a plethora of incredible calisthenics exercises that are known for building huge arms, and in reality, even people that prefer the gym often use a few of the exercises we are going to talk about due to their efficiency and effectiveness.
When it comes to building big arms through calisthenics, there are two core exercises that should make up the bulk of any program; chin-ups and dips.
You could also make the argument that push-ups or banded bicep-curls should be a member of the aforementioned list, but in reality, chip-ups and dips are just much more effective when it comes to building overall arm mass (that’s not to say you can’t still incorporate push-ups and curls into your routine though!).
Chin-ups (as in palms facing towards you) are one of the best exercises for the biceps period. There is no other exercise out there that is able to target your biceps as effectively as chin-ups, and incorporating them into your routine is going to be a massive boon to your success.
As for dips, they are the king of triceps exercises, and there is perhaps no other movement out there that even comes close.
With these two exercises combined, you will have everything you need in order to build truly impressive arms, and they are also just incredible exercises overall.
However, simply doing a few chin-ups and dips from time to time is not going to be enough. You need to get a routine in order to consistently make progress and optimise your training.
One Workout is Not Enough – You Need a Routine
Creating a workout schedule is the bread and butter of building muscle, and without it, any gains you make will be almost negligible.
This is a common area where most people struggle, as the thought of creating a workout routine and sticking to it can be a little daunting at first.
Luckily, this process is not as complex as some may imagine, and in reality, it can be done in as little as two minutes.
The trick to creating an efficient workout schedule is incorporating enough rest days for different body parts to make sure you are not overworking yourself (something that can cause your progress to outright stagnate).
This means that you do not want to exercise the same body part two days in a row. As long as you get this part right, you can have complete creative control over your workout schedule, and it would be best to put something together that suits you individually.
To give an example of what this may look like, your workout schedule may look something like this;
- Monday: chin-ups and banded curls – 12×5 (biceps & back)
- Tuesday: Dips and push-ups – 12×5 (triceps & chest)
- Wednesday: Squats and light cardio- 10×5 + 30 minutes (legs)
- Thursday: Rest
- (Repeat cycle): continue to repeat the above 4 day cycle over and over again to make incredible progress
As long as you factor in progressive overload (trying to increase the weight or number of reps you perform each workout) and have a good diet, a simple schedule like the one mentioned above will more than suffice, and it would even be much more effective than going with a complex program that changes exercises frequently.
The only other thing you need to know when it comes to a workout routine is that of sets and reps.
Reps/repetitions are the number of times you perform one movement within an exercise, and sets and how many times you would complete the number of reps in one workout.
Have Realistic Expectations
The final point we are going to talk about is that of having realistic expectations.
When starting out, the idea of getting huge arms within a matter of months can be incredibly enticing, but more often than not, this notion ends up having catastrophic consequences in the long run.
Building muscle is a painstakingly slow process. It can take months to notice even the slightest improvement, and getting huge arms is going to take a matter of years let alone months.
However, this should not discourage you. When you make progress (which you will), you will be overwhelmed with joy at the thought of all of your hard work paying off, and that goes without saying that you will be astronomically stronger than your former self too.
There is no “quick fix” when it comes to building muscle or developing huge arms – If you are truly in this 100%, it is going to take a couple of years of hard work.
Although, at some point in your journey, you will begin to love calisthenics and start working out for way more than the potential muscle you could put on; it becomes a lifestyle.
Never give up, no matter how slow the progress may feel.
We truly hope we have been able to aid you in your journey of growing impressive arms.
Everything you need to develop strong arms is contained entirely within the contents of this article, and if you are willing to put in the time and effort, then the arms of your dreams will be within your grasp.
Reading and learning will only get you so far. At some point, you just have to do it.
What are you waiting for? Why don’t you leave this article right now and start to formulate a plan on how you are going to execute all of the necessary steps you need to take.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.