How Can A Skinny Guy Get Bigger Arms?

How Can A Skinny Guy Get Bigger Arms?

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Whether you are overweight or underweight you will want to improve your physique. It’s a shame that so few people understand the struggles of skinny guys.

It’s also understandable, the bloke who just has to look at a slice of cake to gain 10lbs (or so he claims) will always struggle to sympathise with his friend who eats pizza three times per day and still has visible abs.

But being skinny definitely has its own frustrations, particularly when it comes to building muscle.

Of all the muscles men think they want bigger, the biceps are king. Shortly followed by triceps. But if you’re naturally skinny they can be really hard to train.

The purpose of this article is to teach skinny guys exactly how to get bigger arms.

Tip #1: Diet is key

Most skinny guys say that they are eating enough, and that diet isn’t the problem. It’s their metabolism that is the issue. But if they actually tracked their diet they’d almost certainly see that they were a) under eating, or b) not eating regularly enough. This is just simple science.

If you are eating more calories than you are expending you will gain weight. If you are not gaining weight then you are not eating enough calories.

Sort this out fast. Get a calorie tracking app and find out what you are actually consuming per day, then increase this number. Also ensure that your protein intake is high.

This calorie increase should create a surplus. It is this surplus that will help you to build bigger arms, you can’t grow bigger muscles while in a deficit.

Tip #2: Don’t neglect the shoulders

Think of a good double bicep pose, what does it show? A big bulging bicep, the outline of some serious triceps, big forearms (more on that in a bit), and huge shoulders.

If you fail to train your shoulders your arms will not look complete. Biceps look bigger when you have boulder shoulders, but you will also work your triceps during most shoulder exercises.

Tip #3: Build big forearms

Nothing looks sillier than huge arms and tiny forearms, so don’t forget to add some forearm specific exercises into your routine.

Hammer curls are a great choice because they work the biceps and the forearms in one movement.

Farmer’s walks are also a great idea, shrugs, plate pinches, and exercises such as pull ups and dips will also help.

Tip #4: Go for compound movements first

Focus on Compound Exercises

What’s the best exercise for triceps? 400 reps of tricep pushdown using a 10kg setting on the cable machine? Or could it be 100kg bench presses using a narrow grip? Yes, it is the latter.

Both your triceps and biceps actually benefit from a mix of heavy weights/low reps and light weights/high reps, but if you only had time for one, go big!

Close grip bench presses for triceps and bodyweight or weighted dips should be a part of your session.

While pull ups, chin ups, and rowing movements (bent over row, single arm dumbbell row, seated cable row etc) should be there for biceps.

These exercises will also strengthen your chest and back and shoulders, which will help prevent you from being a skinny guy with out of proportion arms!

Tip #5: Concentrate on triceps more

Most guys think that building bigger arms is all about increasing your bicep exercises, but actually the tricep muscles take up more surface area than your biceps do.

So if you are going to spend more time on either, it should be the triceps.

Start with some close grip bench presses, then add some dumbbell skull crushers (much better than EZ bar skull crushers), before finishing off with some tricep pushdowns (high reps).

Tip #6: Optimise your recovery

There’s no point in training if your recovery is poor, because it is through recovery that your muscles will grow.

Make sure that your daily protein intake is high enough to fuel protein synthesis.

Also ensure that you are sleeping sufficiently, athletes require more sleep than sedentary people – so eight hours is your new minimum sleep time.

Whey or casein protein before bed is also a good idea, this will increase protein synthesis and lead to bigger muscles.

Tip #7: Be consistent

Be Consistent

We’ve already talked about the benefits of being consistent with your diet, but being consistent with your training is also vital.

We’re not just talking about short term consistency either. Anyone can be consistent for a month, but what about a year? Or five years?

Building muscle is a long process, and it’s not something that you can just hit and quit.

Establish a routine, train often, and don’t neglect your triceps, biceps, shoulders, or forearms.

Tip #8: Use Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is a complicated sounding term, but all it means is that you need to keep either increasing the weight, or increasing the volume of an exercise to build bigger muscles.

Without progressive overload your muscles will never grow.

If you are tracking your training properly then this is an easy step. Just record your weights each session, and look to see whether you can increase the weights or the reps this time.

Tip #9: Use proper form

While training consistently is of paramount importance, training properly is also vital. You could be wasting a lot of time if you are training with sloppy form.

The problem with this tip is that nobody ever accepts that their form is poor. It’s all about how much they can lift, rather than how well they can lift it.

Keep your elbows by your side during bicep curls rather than throwing them around to increase momentum.

Lower the weights slowly during the eccentric phase as this can produce better results.

Use a full range of motion so that you are recruiting the maximum amount of muscle fibres.

Tip #10: Do push ups and pull ups on your day off

What’s the use of bigger arms if you can’t do anything with them?

You want to get to the point where you can knock out 30 push ups or 10 pull ups in a row with perfect form. Not only will this look badass, but it will help maintain and even grow your triceps and biceps.

Once you can knock out ten pull ups without breaking sweat, you will be able to perform weighted pull ups for low reps and really grow some seriously big arms!

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Matt Smith is a fitness and nutrition writer based in Nottingham, England. He has a degree in Sports Science from London Metropolitan University and was a personal trainer in gyms across London for 7 years. He runs the Facebook group Beer N Biceps where he combines his love of weights and alcohol (it works better than you’d think).


  1. I dont currently have access to the gym, and weights are expensive. So.. I am wondering how to bigger arms without weights? Is it possible?

    • To build muscle in your arms you can perform various push up variations. You could also invest in a set of resistance bands as you will be able to perform a variety of exercises with those.

      Remember you need to overload your muscles if you want them to grow. Your diet is also key, as well as adequate rest.

  2. So should I skip bicep specific exercises altogether? I have always performed bicep curls, but it sounds as though I am wasting my time.

    • By all means add in some bicep curls if you are not seeing gains in your biceps. However, as suggested I would opt for hammer curls as they work your forearms too.


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