Train the poor

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As indicated in the article about it train the shoulders, we will walk the muscle groups of the body together and treat how we train them most efficiently. I hope it's clear, but just to be sure, I'll tell you one more time before we continue: should there be any questions or comments about the muscle groups or articles you read from me, or about other topics that you would like to share my vision about want to hear, please leave a message, for example under this article or on Facebook. This time we treat the arms, to be more precise the upper arms.


Layout of the muscles in the upper arm

The upper arm consists of different muscle groups, each with its own function; In the names of the following muscle groups you will see the word 'Brachi' coming back a lot; This word comes from the word Brachium, which refers to 'arm' and then with emphasis on the part from shoulder to elbow.

At the front of the upper arm we find the long and short head of the Biceps Brachii, the smaller Brachialis, and the small Coracobrachialis (which we will not discuss further here). At the back of the upper arm we find the different heads of the Triceps Brachii; the long head, the lateral head and the medial head.

The triceps is by far the largest muscle, with around 55% of the total muscle volume. The biceps follows with approximately 25% and finally 20% for the rest. As we normally classify training sessions, larger muscles require more training volume than smaller ones. Are you one of those people who do 5 exercises or 4 sets for breast, but only 1 or 2 exercises for triceps? Then I might kick you against the shins with the fact that the total muscle volume of the triceps can be a lot larger than that of the pectoralis. Sorry.

Curls for the girls, Tric for the guys



Let's start with the biggest muscle again; The function of the triceps is extension of the elbow and is therefore antagonist of the biceps and brachial. The long head also has shoulder extension as a function, because it spans the shoulder joint and attaches to the shoulder blade. Furthermore, adduction is also one of the functions of the triceps.


The biceps has several functions; elbow flexion, forearm supination, and shoulder flexion. The long (outer) head appears to contribute more to abduction than the short (inner) head.


the brachialis as the smallest muscle would have the lowest priority if you want to grow large arms, but it should certainly not be overlooked. A developed brachial will push your biceps up and out, which will increase the size of your arm. The Brachialis is a stronger flexor of the elbow than that of the biceps, because it does not span the shoulder joint; this will deliver the full force over the elbow joint.

Why do we need to know this? This knowledge is important when we want to train muscles; to train a muscle optimally, you want to use all the functions of that muscle and sometimes also disadvantage a muscle so that another muscle can work optimally.

Jan Willem poor

Optimally train your arms according to the anatomy

Very brief statement: The eccentric part of your exercises is IMPORTANT, perhaps more important than the concentric part. Perform your exercises neatly, SURE in the return movement. Those cheatreps in which you curl your entire upper body so far back that it even hurts the eyes of your fellow curlers, while allowing gravity to make the way back are no longer an issue from now on.

In addition, it is also a general fact that it can be an advantage to train your muscles at different lengths in the range of movement (both in short and in the long position). More about this later.

Finally, it is good to see your elbow as a hinge; so try to work properly, your wrist, elbow and shoulder neatly in one line. In this way you load your elbow in the way it is intended for and you do not demolish your joint. For that reason I work a lot with 1 loose (possibly crossing) cables instead of 2 cable with a rope attached to it; you can perfectly align your joints in this way and you also know for sure that your stronger arm does not compensate for the others.

There are people and studies who claim that the arms are adequately trained when performing heavy compound exercises such as bench press and pullups. It is certainly true that the muscles in the upper arm do a lot of work when performing these exercises, but with insulation work you can probably cause a greater training incentive.

14 to 20 sets per week should be sufficient, spread over (at least) 2 training sessions per week.


It is advisable to make the first exercise a heavy one that is well overloadable. Think of a bench press or a dip, in a low reprange (with a lot of weight).

Grip width influences the activation of the triceps; the chest muscle can deliver less work with a narrower grip, so that the triceps will deliver more. In addition, a horizontal position appears to cause more triceps activation compared to a decline, incline or vertical position.

To fully train the triceps AND because the long head spans the shoulder weight it is advisable to train the triceps in different angles; for that reason we add a triceps exercise in which the shoulders are in extension (such as a triceps pressdown) and an exercise in which the shoulders are in flexion (such as an overhead triceps extension).

The pressdown will emphasize the lateral head more, because the long head can work less effectively in this position. In an overhead exercise, the long head is more advantageous, so that it can be optimally trained. Shoulder adduction also belongs to the (long head) functions of the triceps; for this reason the long head will be more appealed when you squeeze your elbows in your side.

Jan Willem triceps


To train the biceps you will have to return the functions that we have just discussed to a greater or lesser extent. Since the biceps certainly also contain type 2 fibers, it is advisable to at least choose a curl exercise that you can load heavily, such as an EZ bar curl.

In addition, the choice of grip is very important; since the bicep contributes strongly to supination, it is advisable to include a rotating movement in your bicep training, with elbow flexion and supination taking place simultaneously.

Do you remember that we were talking about the 2 different heads of the biceps with those superfluous words such as abduction? The width of the grip seems to be returning; Given that the long head helps more with abduction, a wider grip will put more emphasis on this. A narrower grip will naturally focus more on the short head. You can use this to shift the emphasis.

Finally, we can still play with the different parts of the movement range of the muscle; Combining a preacher curl (arm in front of the body) with an incline curl (arm behind the body) appears to provide more total activation.


Since the brachialis and the biceps have partially overlapping functions, we should try to disable the biceps as much as possible when we train the brachialis. An overhand grip seems to be a good choice for this, as with a reverse grip ez bar curl. Bonus: your forearms immediately get a good blow.

In practice

Below you will find all the theory above in practice. If you have a separate arm day, you can use the schedule below. If you train your arms on other days together with the larger muscle groups, then try to implement this knowledge. Remember that some attention is growing. That applies to your studies, your relationships, but certainly also to your poor. If your arms are (too) small, consider training your arms on your own day for a while, or putting them forward in your training sessions.

A1 Small grip bench press, 4 sets, 6-8 reps

B1 Crossing cable triceps extension, 3 sets, 12-15 reps

B2 Overhead crossing cable triceps extension, 3 sets, 12-15 reps

C1 EZ bar curl, 4 sets, 6-8 reps

D1 Standing cable behind the body curl, 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D2 preacher curls, 3 sets, 8-12 reps

E1 Reverse grip ez bar curls, 3 sets, 8-12 reps

Jan Willem Triceps

In addition, when you train with cables, you will be able to manipulate the angle at which you train / the length position of the muscle you train by moving closer or further away. In this way you can do a large set by making an x ​​number of reps at the most difficult distance and then one step closer to a number of reps. For triceps you start far from the station and you walk closer, for biceps the other way around.

Demolish that trade!

Jan Willem van der Klis

Instagram: @Jay_Whey

This blog is written by

Jan Willem van der Klis

"My focus is on obtaining and disseminating the best possible knowledge to optimize training and nutrition"

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