Want to build big arms to stretch the sleeves of your t-shirts and rock a tank top in the summertime? Good news: You don’t need to go to a gym or lift a single barbell or dumbbell to do it.
You can grow big biceps and triceps anywhere you want (at home, outdoors, while traveling) with nothing more than a set of resistance bands and a little sweat equity.
The Truth About Gaining Muscle with Bands.
Anyone who says you can’t build big arms with resistance bands has never tried.
Your muscles don’t know the difference between resistance provided by a free weight versus a rubber band. A well-constructed set of bands provides all the tonnage you need – hundreds of pounds of resistance – to spark muscle growth in any body part, in this case, the arms.
One muscle-building advantage bands provide that dumbbells and barbells don’t is linear variable resistance. Simple premise: The more the band is stretched through the range of motion (ROM) of a given exercise, the greater the resistance.
With most lifting exercises, your muscles are weakest at the beginning of the ROM and strongest toward the end. That’s one reason bands are so effective for building size and strength – they provide less resistance early in the range when your muscles are unable to budge a heavy load, and then more resistance during stronger portions of the lift.
You don’t get this phenomenon with free weights. When doing a barbell curl, for example, you’re forced to pick a weight that’s light enough to allow you to do the first half of the motion; problem is, the weight’s probably too light to challenge you through the last half of the lift, so you’re not getting full muscle overload. Sure, you could go heavier and “cheat” the weight to the halfway point, but then you’re taking tension off the muscles for much of the ROM, which limits growth potential.
With bands, the muscles are adequately loaded through all portions of the ROM. Exercise scientists called this “progresive overload,” and that’s how you grow bigger and stronger.
How Bands Build Bigger Arms
Maximizing growth in the biceps and triceps requires doing exercises at different arm positions. Why? Because these muscles consist of multiple “heads” (two heads for the biceps, three heads for the triceps), and each head is targeted uniquely with different arm positions.
For biceps, the key arm positions are: arms in line with the torso (which targets the short and long heads); arms in front of the torso (short head emphasis); and arms behind the torso (long head or “peak” of the biceps). Biceps target areas, as well as forearms involvement, are also affected by wrist rotation – pronation (overhand grip) and supination (reverse grip).
For triceps, the crucial arm positions correspond to the movement type: overhand-grip extensions, pressdowns, and close-grip presses target the lateral and long heads; reverse-grip extensions hit the medial head; and overhead movements emphasize the long head.
Now, here’s the difference between bands and free weights in regard to arm position…
To hit all the different positions with dumbbells or barbells, you need to utilize a number of other pieces of equipment – ie, a flat bench, preacher bench, and incline bench – to be able to do the various curls and extensions against gravity (since free weights need to be lifted in a vertical plane of motion).
With resistance bands, you can incorporate all of the aforementioned arm positions with no additional equipment, via a combination of anchored and unanchored exercises. Why? Because your line of pull doesn’t have to be against gravity (vertical) like it does with free weights.
Anchored exercises require a stable structure to attach the band to, but any number of landmarks in your house or on your property will do the trick. A doorway is one such anchor point, provided you have a simple door anchor. Other possible anchor points include a sturdy bedpost, a stop sign or lamppost outside, or a pillar on your patio.
Get Your Bands and Grow Your Guns
Creating a resistance band home gym is easy. You already have the space available – any room of the house, or backyard (big or small) will accommodate bands. For a high-quality set, check out Undersun Fitness, a company that specializes in resistance bands and at-home training programs.