Arms, guns, bazookas... Call them what you wish, but a set of muscular upper arms remains one of the most appealing goals in bodybuilding.

I'm even willing to bet that most of you originally started strength training to build bigger guns. Admit it! Sure, you're now into building a balanced body and you're probably also interested in building functional muscle, not just piling up muscle tissue, but still, the dream of mind-blowing arms probably lives.

Well, dream no more. This article will show you how to drastically increase arm size and strength over a twelve week period. This program is built around sixteen different sessions, so over the whole period you'll never perform the exact same workout twice! This will make the journey as enjoyable as it is effective!

Program Overview

You'll perform sixteen workouts over the twelve week period. Two workouts per week will be performed on weeks 1, 4, 7, and 10. The other weeks have a single weekly session.

The program comprises four blocks of three weeks, each block being tougher than the last. Then, each block is divided into three different training approaches:

  1. Intensity: Heavier average weight lifted, more frequency, emphasis on CNS (central nervous system) improvements.
  2. Volume: More total reps performed. Emphasis on volume techniques.
  3. Density: Reduction of the amount of rest intervals and inclusion of extension techniques such as drop sets and supersets. The objective is to increase the amount of work performed per unit of time.

Note: This program utilizes several training techniques such as cluster sets and tempo contrast. If you need a refresher course on those, check these articles out:

Reps You've Never Tried
Violent Variations, Part III
Isometrics for Mass!

Level 1: Weeks 1-3

Week 1: Intensity

Session 1 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Decline Close-Grip Bench Press 5 3-5 2 min.
B Barbell Curl

slightly cheated

5 3-5 2 min.
C Decline Nosebreaker (triceps extension) 4 6-8 90 sec.
D Reverse Incline Hammer Curl 4 6-8 90 sec.

Session 2 (Friday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Nosebreaker 5 5 2 min.
Special technique: cluster. 5 reps with your 3RM (10 seconds rest between reps, re-rack weight)
B Preacher Curl 5 5 2 min.
Special technique: cluster. 5 reps with your 3RM (10 seconds rest between reps, re-rack weight)
C Close-Grip Bench Press 5 3-5 2 min.
D Reverse Grip Preacher 5 3-5 2 min.

Week 2: Volume

Session 3 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension 4 6-8 90 sec.
B One-Arm Preacher Curl 4 6-8 90 sec.
C Cable Triceps Extension 4 8 90 sec.
Special technique: Tempo contrast (reps 1-2 and 5-6 = 604 tempo; reps 3-4 and 7-8 = explosive)
D Cable Curl 4 8 90 sec.
Special technique: Tempo contrast (reps 1-2 and 5-6 = 604 tempo; reps 3-4 and 7-8 = explosive)
E Overhead Rope Extension 3 10-12 1 min.
F Seated Dumbbell Curl 3 10-12 1 min.

Week 3: Density

Session 4 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Incline Close-Grip Bench Press 3 8-10 none
A2 Barbell Curl 3 8-10 none
A3 Rope Triceps Pressdown 3 12-15 2 min.
B1 Close-Grip Chin-Up 3 8-10 none
B2 L-Seat 3 8-10 none
B3 Drag Curl 3 12-15 2 min.

Level 2: Weeks 4-6

Week 4: Intensity

Session 5 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Close-Grip Bench Press, cluster 5 5x1 2 min.
Perform 5 total reps with 10 seconds of rest between each rep. Rack the bar during each pause.
B Close-Grip Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 5 5x1 2 min.
Perform 5 total reps with 10 seconds of rest between each rep. Rack the bar during each pause.
C1 Nosebreaker 4 4-6 15 sec.
C2 Standing Barbell Curl 4 4-6 2 min.

Session 6 (Friday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Weighted Dip, extended 5's 5 10 2 min.
Special technique: rest/pause. Total of 10 reps with 5RM (perform 5 reps, rest 10 seconds, 3 reps, rest 10 seconds, 2 reps)
B Hammer Curl, extended 5's 5 10 2 min.
Special technique: rest/pause. Total of 10 reps with 5RM (perform 5 reps, rest 10 seconds, 3 reps, rest 10 seconds, 2 reps)
C1 Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension 4 4-6 15 sec.
C2 Reverse Preacher Curl 4 4-6 2 min.

Week 5: Volume

Session 7 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Triceps Cable Pressdown 10 10 1 min.
A2 Low Pulley Curl 10 10 1 min.

Week 6: Density

Session 8 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Decline Close-Grip Bench Press 4 6-8 15 sec.
A2 Standing Barbell Curl (wide grip) 4 8-10 15 sec.
A3 Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension 4 15-20 2 min.
B1 Close-Grip Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 4 6-8 15 sec.
B2 Dip (weighted if possible) 4 8-10 15 sec.
B3 Standing Barbell Curl (close grip) 4 15-20 2 min.

Level 3: Weeks 7-9

Week 7: Intensity

Session 9 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Close-Grip Bench Press, drop-set cluster 6 5-1 3 min.
Special technique: drop-set cluster. Perform 5 total reps with 10 seconds of rest between each rep. Start with close to your 1RM and drop the weight by around 10lbs on each rep.
B Standing Barbell Curl, drop-set cluster 6 5-1 3 min.
Special technique: drop-set cluster. Perform 5 total reps with 10 seconds of rest between each rep. Start with close to your 1RM and drop the weight by around 10lbs on each rep.

Session 10 (Friday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 10 3 1 min.
Special techniques: 1) hold the peak contraction for 3 seconds per rep. 2) alternate between A1 and A2
A2 Dip (weighted if possible) 10 3 1 min.

Week 8: Volume

Session 11 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Decline Nosebreaker 10 6-8 90 sec.
A2 Preacher Curl 10 6-8 90 sec.
B1 Overhead Cable Triceps Extension 4 8 15 sec.
Special techniques: 1) tempo contrast: reps 1-2 and 5-6 = 604 tempo; reps 3-4 and 7-8 = explosive 2) superset
B2 Low Cable Curl 4 8 1 min.
Special techniques: 1) tempo contrast: reps 1-2 and 5-6 = 604 tempo; reps 3-4 and 7-8 = explosive 2) superset

Week 9: Density

Session 12 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Close-Grip Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 3 6-8 15 sec.
A2 Dip (weighted if possible) 3 6-8 15 sec.
A3 Standing Barbell Curl (wide grip) 3 10-12 15 sec.
A4 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension 3 10-12 3 min.

Level 4: Weeks 10-12

Week 10: Intensity

Session 13 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Reverse Grip Bench Press 9 3/2/1 3 min.
3/2/1 wave (1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1, 1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1, 1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1)
B Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 9 3/2/1 3 min.
3/2/1 wave (1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1, 1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1, 1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1)

Session 14 (Friday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension 9 5/4/3 2 min.
5/4/3 wave (1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3)
B Hammer curl 9 5/4/3 2 min.
5/4/3 wave (1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3)

Week 11: Volume

Session 15 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Close-Grip Bench Press, overcoming isometrics, top range 4 30 sec. 1 min.
B Standing Barbell Curl, yielding isometrics, mid-range 4 30 sec. 1 min.
C Cable Triceps Extension, 2/1 (with the rope) 4 10 1 min.
Special technique: 2/1 - concentric (lifting phase) with 2 arms, eccentric (lowering phase) with 1 arm in 5 seconds
D Machine Biceps Curl, 2/1 4 10 1 min.
Special technique: 2/1 - concentric (lifting phase) with 2 arms, eccentric (lowering phase) with 1 arm in 5 seconds
E Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension 3 12-15 45 sec.
F Reverse Standing Barbell Curl 3 12-15 45 sec.

Week 12: Density

Session 16 (Tuesday)

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Close-Grip Chin-Up (weighted if possible) 3 6-8 15 sec.
A2 Dip (weighted if possible) 3 6-8 15 sec.
A3 Standing Barbell Curl (wide grip) 3 10-12 15 sec.
A4 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension 3 10-12 15 sec.
A5 Low Pulley Cable Curl 3 15-20 15 sec.
A6 Cable Triceps Extension 3 15-20 4 min.

Reach New Heights!

This workout, if followed perfectly and accompanied by proper nutrition and supplementation, should bring your upper arm development to new heights. If you do your job in the gym and at the kitchen table, you should be able to add 1 to 1.5 inches to your arm measurements over these 12 weeks!

Get started!