Tip: The Bodyweight Superset for Big Arms

Ditch the weights and build some real size. Sounds crazy, but this superset should be the foundation of your biceps and triceps training.


When most people want to build their arms, they head straight to the EZ-curl bar and the rope pulldown machine. That's a mistake. For most lifters, chin-ups and dips should form the foundation of their arm training. Here's a superset that'll get the job done.

Chin-Up and Dip Superset

  • A1. Chin-Up – 4 sets to near failure
  • A2. Dip – 4 sets to near failure

No rest between A1 and A2. Rest approximately 2-3 minutes between supersets.

This means that you'll do a set of chin-ups, then immediately do a set of dips without rest. That's one round and you'll do three more, resting a couple of minutes between supersets. Perform these exercises to near but not absolute failure. Consistent absolute failure on all sets adds disproportionate fatigue to the training effect.

For the chin-ups:

Choose a partial or fully underhand grip to emphasize biceps recruitment. Fully extend your elbows at the bottom with control and then reverse direction.

Your scapula should move with you and not remain locked in place. Use full available range of motion at the top and bottom under control to avoid needless injury risk. Squeeze at the top and then repeat.

For the dips:

Use caution as they can put your shoulder in a compromised position and aren't suitable for those with injured shoulders or poor joint mobility. Ensure the ball of the joint doesn't glide forward from the socket in the bottom of your dip, which would result in the ball pushing repeatedly against your biceps and rotator cuff tendons.

Descend to a depth you can control and then extend elbows to lockout. Some trainers emphasize remaining upright for more triceps focus, but more forward torso lean may allow more shoulder comfort and will still smash triceps while engaging more chest.

Remember, classic-era bodybuilders used bodyweight compounds as the foundation of arm training. Though prominent bodybuilders of the '60s and '70s lacked the sheer mass (and abdominal distention) of modern pros, Arnold and his contemporaries never lacked for world-class arms.

Andrew Coates is a trainer who is focused on strength development for everyday people and young athletes. He’s a fitness writer, speaker, and host of The Lift Free and Diet Hard Podcast.

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