Whilst every gym-goer pretends that they’re really into getting bigger legs and a stronger back, deep down every male has one goal in mind bigger arms.
It’s the universal sign that someone works out, and having tiny arms is a cause for concern for many men.
Lots of men’s magazines and online articles promise huge arms in just 6 weeks, but how realistic are these goals?
In this article we will look at the time it takes for people at different stages of their training to grow an extra inch on their arms, then we will look at the most effective ways to do so.
These results are to be seen as a guide rather than a promise as everyone adapts to exercise in their own unique way.
What’s your growth potential?
Adding an inch of muscle to your arms is not easy for anyone, but there are some people who have a genetic advantage over others.
For example you could be born with either long or short biceps, people with long biceps bellies (but short tendons) find it a lot easier to build bicep size as the muscles have more growth potential.
Other factors such as natural testosterone levels, age, gender, and arm length can affect how quickly you can build muscle.
But the biggest factor is training experience. If you have been training for decades then it is going to take you a very long time to increase your arm size, because you are already near your genetic potential.
In other words increasing an arm from 9 inches to 10 inches is a lot easier than increasing an arm from 19 inches to 20 inches.
These timeframes are estimates but roughly it would take up to four months of training for a completely new trainee to increase their arms by one inch.
It could take a year for a regular lifter, and as much as three or four years for a very experienced lifter to increase their arms by one inch.
If we add non-natural ways such as steroid use then we can cut those times down, and if we consider Synthol injections then we can cut that time down further still!
Though please don’t consider Synthol use as it doesn’t actually increase muscle size and can make you very ill. It will also make you look extremely foolish – decide which is worse for yourself.
How to add an inch to your arms
It doesn’t matter what your potential growth is, if you aren’t training properly. To get that extra inch you need to train hard.
Remember there are three muscles that make up your upper arm, the Biceps Brachii, the Triceps Brachii, and the Brachialis muscle. These three are all important but the Triceps are key, they make up over 52% of your arm with Biceps taking up 25-30% and Brachialis taking up only 15-20% (rough estimates obviously).
This means that you should prioritise your Triceps over your Biceps and Brachialis, train them in that order.
The best exercises for the Biceps and Triceps are heavy, low rep exercises. So for Triceps you could perform Close-Grip Barbell Bench presses for 4 sets of 6 reps.
For Biceps you could perform Barbell Bicep Curls or alternatively you could try some Chin Ups which put the Biceps through the full range of motion.
Training your arms twice or even three times per week is a good idea, and using a variety of rep ranges is also smart. This is because studies have shown that hypertrophy is best achieved by mixing your rep ranges up.
Maybe go high rep with a Tricep isolation exercise such as the Dumbbell Skull Crusher on one day, and then go very low rep with Weighted Tricep Dips the next.
To build bigger muscles you need to be exercising them hard, but you also need to be fuelling growth and allowing time for recovery.
Without all three of these factors your muscles will not reach their potential.
Try to eat a high-protein diet as this will stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) which is required for muscle growth.
Another important factor is rest, if you’re not getting adequate rest between sessions then your muscles won’t be able to fully recover. Meaning that you won’t be able to train them as thoroughly in the next session.
Rest also includes sleeping properly, studies have shown that bad sleep can lower testosterone whilst good sleep can boost growth hormone release. Both of these hormones have a huge influence on muscle growth.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, you now know how long it should take to grow your arms by one inch.
If you’re a complete novice and have just started you can expect growth within the next 12 weeks or so (provided you follow the exercise advice and nutrition/rest).
If you’ve been training a while then you’ll need to be more patient, but by now you’re used to being patient and being consistent so this probably doesn’t matter. For those of you who are very experienced you’ll have to be even more patient, but you already knew that didn’t you?