Whatever your reason—taking an Instagram selfie, going to the club, or trying to impress a female—you want to make your arms as big as possible as fast as possible. Hey, we’re not here to judge. We’ve been there, too, standing shirtless in front of the mirror before a date, thinking, “Damn it, why can’t I always look the way I do after I work out?”
Simple—you’ve no doubt heard the term “swoll” tossed around your gym, right? It doesn’t mean someone is a jacked, no-neck, horse testosterone–chugging ape; it means someone looks swollen. It’s how anyone lifting weights should look after they wrap up their workout. During weight lifting, your muscles contract. When your muscles contract, the volume of blood flowing to and through those muscles increases. When blood flow increases, so does the size of the muscles that are contracting. Hence, your muscles look swollen. They stay “swoll” for a good while after your workout, subsiding sometime later in the day when you’re stretched out on the couch with a box of Samoa cookies.
Another way of saying that you want to make your arms big fast is saying that you want to make your arms look swollen, which can be accomplished by increasing blood flow to the muscles in your arms with targeted exercises that will help overflow your muscles, making them expand and look larger. When we say targeted exercises, we mean high-intensity, high-repetition, low-weight, no-rest bicep and tricep exercises. Four of them to be exact, done in this order: barbell curls, barbell skull crushers, resistance-band hammer curls, and resistance-band tricep push-downs.
Your goal will be to get 20 repetitions of each exercise done as quickly possible without sacrificing form. Don’t get in over your head by adding too much weight to the bar or picking a band without enough play. We did this routine using a 45-pound barbell with no weight added and a super stretchy, low-resistance band. Begin with 20 barbell curls. Start with your hands hip width apart and go through the exercise’s full range of motion, extending your arms until the pits in your elbows are just about flat. When you hit 20 reps, quickly transition into barbell skull crushers. With your back flat against a bench, feet firmly planted on the floor, hold the barbell directly above your forehead with your arms locked out. Don’t let your elbows dip backwards as you bend them, letting the barbell slowly fall toward your skull. Let the barbell get near your head, then, keeping your arms tight against your sides, press the bar back up, using as much of your triceps as possible, until your arms are once again locked out
20 reps, and then move into the resistance-band half of this routine, starting with hammer curls. Hold the top half of a resistance band in your hands while you walk onto the bottom half of the band. You’ll keep your feet on the bottom of the band for the whole exercise. Hold the top of the band so that your hands are about hip width apart and your palms are facing inward, and then do 20 controlled curls before moving to tricep push-downs. Loop a resistance band around a pull-up bar, the top of a squat rack, or anything sturdy and taller than you. Stand just in front of the band, now dangling from whatever you hung it on, and grab it with both hands. Keep your back straight, your chest out, and your arms tight against your sides as you push your hands toward the ground. After fully extending your arms, bring them back to the starting position. Do 20 reps, and you’re done with round one. Immediately move to round two—same exercises, same order, same weight, same repetitions, and still no rest.
After round one, which took us two minutes and six seconds to complete, our arms had swelled by three-quarters of an inch. After round two, which took another two minutes and thirty seconds, they’d swelled a whole inch over starting size. By round three, which took almost three more minutes, an inch and a half over starting size. How many rounds should you go? However many you want, but understand a) you’ll probably be completely fried after round three or four, no matter how tough you think you are, and b) there will be diminishing returns after your muscles become supersaturated with blood, and, at some point, it won’t be worth going on. That’s your call to make.
Please keep in mind that this quick pump is not a hit-it-and-quit-it, five-minute workout that could ever replace an intense, focused fitness regimen. Instead, it’s a fast and dirty way for you to get the last-minute big arms you desperately want, whatever your reason may be.
Photos by 4 Eyes Photography / Getty Images