10 Compound Exercises For Arms (For Bicep & Tricep Gains)

Having thick and strong arms can boost your confidence and are generally one of the first muscles people notice. While isolation exercises, like biceps curls, can be effective - it's compound exercises for arms that can really help to develop your physique.

This guide will show you all the best compound exercise options to help you gain lean muscle quickly.

1. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are one of the best compound arm exercises. The movement involves pulling your whole body upwards and engaging your back, core, chest, shoulders, and biceps.

Performing them regularly will help to develop your functional strength and give you a shredded physique.

You'll only need a pull-up bar to perform this exercise, so it's a great compound arm workout for those training at home.

Just note that it's usually harder for a female to do you a pull-up because biologically they have less muscle mass than males - so it may be a better workout for men.

How To

  1. 1
    Use a pull-up bar underhand grip to grab the bar and keep your hands just wider than shoulder width.
  2. 2
    Let your body dead hang until your arms are fully extended.
  3. 3
    Engage your back and lift your body up until your shoulders reach the height of the bar.
  4. 4
    Squeeze your biceps at the top, and then lower yourself slowly down to the starting position.
  5. 5
    Repeat for 8-12 reps or until failure.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Pull-ups can be difficult for beginners, but you can use an assisted pull-up machine until you have the strength to do a full rep on your own.

Make sure you're pulling straight upwards during the movement, or you may be engaging one side more than the other. This can lead to uneven development, or even injury.

10 Compound Exercises For Arms (For Bicep & Tricep Gains)

2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Single arm dumbbell rows are a great unilateral exercise that lets you target muscle groups on each side of your body separately. By focusing the exercise on one side, you can lift more weight, which helps you develop massive biceps.

Single arm rows can also help you to improve the stability of your shoulder joints and strengthen your upper back.

A one arm dumbbell row requires a heavy weight and a chair or bench to rest one leg on. It's a straightforward exercise that is suitable for beginners or advanced lifters.

How To

  1. 1
    Place one knee on a flat bench and lean your hand down to support your weight.
  2. 2
    Have your other leg out wide and hold a dumbbell in one hand with an overhand grip.
  3. 3
    Lean forward so that your torso is parallel to the floor.
  4. 4
    Row the dumbbell up towards your rib cage and tuck your elbow in to your side.
  5. 5
    Pause at the top and squeeze your biceps and triceps.
  6. 6
    Slowly lower to starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps before switching sides.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Start your one arm dumbbell row with your weaker side, so your energy goes on improving muscle growth on that side first.

More Training Options - Best Dumbbell Exercises For Back Day

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

3. Close-Grip Chin Ups

Chin-ups, like pull-ups, are an amazing compound exercise. They help you build your back, lats, core, and arms in one go.

Moving your grip as close together as possible makes them an effective biceps exercise and encourages your body to develop lean muscle.

You'll only need a chin-up bar for this exercise, but they can be quite challenging for beginners.

Again, this is generally a better exercise for men because they genetically have more muscle mass and strength than women.

How To

  1. 1
    Grip the chin-up bar using an underhand grip, hands around shoulder width apart.
  2. 2
    Allow your body to dead hang on the bar, so your arms are fully extended.
  3. 3
    Engage your back and biceps to lift yourself all the way up until your chin reaches the bar.
  4. 4
    Hold for a second and then return to starting position.
  5. 5
    Repeat for 8-12 reps, or until failure.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Focus on squeezing your biceps as you lift your body upwards. This will help you build massive biceps and improve your mind-muscle connection.

Close-Grip Chin Ups

4. Standing Arnold Press

A standing Arnold press works your upper back, core, and biceps all in one. It starts like regular bicep curls and then pushes upwards, so your body has to deal with a change in direction. This makes it really effective but quite challenging - especially for beginners.

This is one of the more challenging compound movements that takes a bit of getting used to, so it's better for advanced lifters. You'll only need a pair of dumbbells to do it.

How To

  1. 1
    Hold a dumbbell in each hand like you’re about to perform a bicep curl.
  2. 2
    Curl the weight up towards your shoulder and curl the weights, so your palms are facing towards your body (like a hammer curl).
  3. 3
    Brace your body and perform an overhead press until your arms are fully extended above you.
  4. 4
    Pause at the top, and slowly do the movement in reverse to return to starting position.
  5. 5
    Repeat for 6-8 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

The form is quite tricky for this. To help you engage the right muscle group, you should start by performing the movement without weights.

Once you've mastered it, you can introduce dumbbells to increase the resistance. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, so your body remains stable throughout the lift.

Read More - Arnold Press Vs Shoulder Press

Standing Arnold Press

5. Diamond Push Ups

Diamond push-ups, sometimes known as close grip push-ups, are one of the best bodyweight tricep exercises.

They're similar to a regular push-up, but your hands are moved to the middle of your body. This forces the strain away from your chest and more into your triceps to help you shape your arms.

You don't need any equipment for diamond push-ups, so they're perfect for those working out at home.

How To

  1. 1
    Start in the push-up position but with your hands together and your thumbs touching your index fingers - this should form a diamond shape.
  2. 2
    Start with your arms fully extended, and then slowly lower your body by bending at the elbows.
  3. 3
    Hold for a second when you’re just off the ground, and slowly push yourself back up to starting position.
  4. 4
    Repeat for 10-14 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

 If you find this too hard, you can perform close grip push-up variations on your knees instead of your toes. These are much easier and better for beginners.

 If you find this too easy, you can switch to elevated close grip push-ups. This introduces an angle that makes the push-ups harder but should only be attempted by experienced lifters.

See Also - Diamond Push Up Benefits

Diamond Push Ups

6. Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press uses the classic press movement with a slightly different grip. This allows it to focus the effort on your triceps while also building muscle across your chest and upper body.

To perform this exercise, you'll need a bench and a barbell loaded with weight. It's great for lifters of all abilities because it engages multiple muscles while also helping you develop bulging triceps.

How To

  1. 1
    Lie with your back on a flat bench.
  2. 2
    Grip the bar with your hands just closer together than shoulder width.
  3. 3
    Unrack the barbell, and slowly low it down to your chest.
  4. 4
    Pause when the barbell is about 2 inches from your chest.
  5. 5
    Press the bar upwards until you have straight arms.
  6. 6
    Repeat for 5-9 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Close grip bench presses are harder than regular bench presses because they focus the effort on your triceps, so you may need to lower the weight to complete the reps properly.

Related Article - Can You Bench Press With A Curl Bar?

Close Grip Bench Press

7. Barbell Overhand Bent Over Row

Barbell curls are an effective way to grow your biceps, but by slightly changing the angle and movement, you can get the same benefits while also training your upper back.

The overhand bent over row is often considered just a back exercise, but performing it regularly can improve your forearm definition and the strength of your upper arms.

All you need is a barbell for this movement, and it's a great beginner's exercise for men and women.

How To

  1. 1
    Hold a barbell in an overhand shoulder width grip.
  2. 2
    Stand up straight and bend your knees slightly.
  3. 3
    Hinge forward at a 45-degree angle, and let the barbell fall down with your arms straight.
  4. 4
    Retract your shoulder blades and row the barbell upwards until it reaches your ribs.
  5. 5
    Pause, and then lower back down to the starting position.
  6. 6
    Repeat for 5-8 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Keep your back straight throughout the exercise, and get your elbows nice and high as you pull the bar up. This will maximize the engagement of your biceps and triceps.

Learn More - T-Bar Row Vs Barbell Row

Barbell Overhand Bent Over Row

8. TRX Cable Narrow Push Ups

TRX cables are great for compound exercises because they require stabilization across your body. This forces you to engage your core and smaller muscle groups throughout the movement.

Narrow push-ups primarily engage your upper chest and triceps, but by using the TRX cables, you'll get a greater range of motion which means greater gains.

This exercise is best for intermediate or advanced lifters because you will need some core strength to keep your body stable. You’ll also need to invest in some TRX cables.

How To

  1. 1
    Adjust your TRX cables to the right length and secure them.
  2. 2
    Grip a handle in each hand and get into the push-up position.
  3. 3
    Make sure your body is in a straight line, and your hands are should below your shoulders.
  4. 4
    Slowly lower your body down to the floor by bending at the elbow.
  5. 5
    Pause when your chest is just above your hands, and then return to starting position.
  6. 6
    Repeat for 8-12 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise, and keep your body straight. This will keep your back out of the equation and keep it focused on your arms and chest.

TRX Cable Narrow Push Ups

9. Ring Dips

Ring dips are a lot of fun, but they are challenging. They involve gripping two rings attached to ropes and moving your body up and down.

They target your shoulders and arms, primarily your triceps, but also involve your core muscles to control the movement.

You’ll need a set of rings for this movement and something to secure them to. This exercise is best for experienced lifters because you need a fairly high level of strength to perform them.

How To

  1. 1
    Start with a ring in each hand and support your full body weight on your arms.
  2. 2
    Cross your ankles and slowly lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows.
  3. 3
    Once your arms are bent at 90 degrees, pause, then push yourself back up to starting position.
  4. 4
    Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

 Performing ring dips with your knees bent makes your core more stable and the dips easier. This is sometimes called the monkey method, and it's useful for beginners.

Can't do ring dips? Don't worry! Check out our guide to the best ring dips alternatives here!

Ring Dips

10. Kettlebell Farmer’s Walk

A kettlebell farmer's walk is a compound tricep exercise that has benefits for your entire upper body.

It involves lifting and walking with two heavy kettlebells, which might seem simple but is quite challenging. They're great for anyone who wants functional strength rather than just visible muscles.

To perform this exercise, you'll need a pair of heavy kettlebells and enough space to walk around with them.

How To

  1. 1
    Start with two kettlebells on the floor on each side of you.
  2. 2
    Squat down until the kettlebells are an arm's length away and grip them with palms facing each other.
  3. 3
    Raise your body upwards, holding the kettlebells until you're upright.
  4. 4
    Walk forward, keeping your kettlebells stable on either side of you.
  5. 5
    Keep going for 5-10 steps and place the kettlebells down on the floor.
  6. 6
    Repeat for any many steps and reps as you can.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tips

Keep your shoulders straight and your core tight throughout the movement. If you don't have kettlebells, you can perform this with dumbbells instead.

Related Article - How Many Kettlebells Do I Really Need?

Kettlebell Farmer’s Walk

Compound Vs Isolation Movements: Compared For Bis & Tris

When you're training in the gym, there are two main types of exercise: isolation exercise and compound movements. Isolation exercises target a specific muscle group, whereas a compound exercise will work multiple muscles at once.

Common bicep and tricep isolation exercises include:

  • Hammer curls
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Barbell curls
  • Modified concentration curl

Advantages Of Isolation Workouts:

  • You can focus your effort on your biceps or triceps for increased muscle development in that area.
  • All your energy goes into your biceps and triceps so you can increase your training volume without feeling fatigued.
  • You can avoid tender joints or any injuries with more controlled movements.

Advantages of Compound Workouts:

  • You can lift heavier than normal reps because you have supporting muscles to help.
  • Heavier weight loads makes it easier to start building bulging triceps and biceps.
  • Compound bicep exercises help to grow your arms and shoulders in proportion.
  • You burn more calories with an increased heart rate.
  • Improved flexibility and stability.

Studies have shown that compound and isolation workouts are actually just as effective when it comes to muscle gain. [1]

However, compound arm exercises trump isolation movements because you can grow thicker arms while also encouraging greater muscle development across your body.

This makes your workouts more efficient and helps you burn more calories to develop a lean physique.

If you want to grow bigger biceps and triceps and improve your overall muscle definition, you should use a compound focused routine.


Frequently Asked Compound Arm Exercise Questions

Which compound exercises work biceps the best?

Chin-ups and pull-ups are great multi-joint movements that engage your biceps effectively. This helps you build strong arms while also working other muscles.

Is it OK to only do compound exercises?

Yes, it's OK to only do compound lifts because they target almost every muscle group in your body, and you'll be able to build a lot of muscle.

However, it's generally a good idea to mix up your routine and include a few different exercises to keep your body guessing.

Is it OK to do compound exercises every day you train?

Yes, you can perform different compound exercises every day you train. However, it's a good idea to introduce some high-intensity training exercises as these help to increase the production of your body's natural growth hormone. This encourages increased muscle growth and can be better for your helping you build big upper arms. [2]

How many reps should I do for compound exercises?

For most compound exercises, you'll be aiming to do fewer reps because you're engaging more muscles at once. Looking at a 3-9 rep range and 3-5 sets is usually best, compared to an 8-12 rep range of isolation exercises.

You can usually perform more reps with body weight compound exercises, and it's sometimes good just to push yourself until failure.


Conclusion

Compound exercises are more beneficial to your overall development than isolation exercises.

They target your biceps, triceps, and larger muscle groups all in one go which can help you build solid arms and develop muscle tissue. Over time this will lead to increased strength and a leaner physique.

Hopefully, this guide has helped explain the benefits of compound arm workouts and has given you some useful exercises to help you build big arms.

References:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744434/

2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-ways-to-increase-hgh

Last Updated on August 30, 2022