Build Bigger Arms: Kai Greene’s Top 5 Exercises
By Kai Greene
1. Overhand/Reverse Preacher Curls.
I’m sure most of you have done standard preacher curls, and some of you have also done reverse curls, but I bet most of you have never tried this movement that combines them both. I use an EZ-curl bar with my hands spaced on the downward sloping angles of the cambered bar, which for most is roughly shoulder width. This exercise hits the brachialis muscle that lies between the long head of the biceps and lateral head of the triceps, as well as the group of forearm muscles known as the extensors. It’s similar to standing reverse barbell curls or dumbbell hammer curls, but the preacher bench locks you in place with the arms braced so cheating is impossible. It forces strict form and isolation of those often-neglected muscles that can add a whole new dimension to your arm development when fully developed.
2. Close-Grip Preacher Curls.
This is one of the most effective ways to hit the short head of the biceps. This is the part of the biceps most people associate with the muscle itself, because it’s the biceps head you see from the front whenever anyone hits an arm pose like the front double biceps, or even a single biceps pose. The golden rule to follow with biceps training is that a closer grip on a bar will target more of the short head, while a wider hand spacing on the bar works more of the long head, which is displayed best in the rear double biceps pose. Again I prefer the preacher bench because it forces you to isolate the muscle. One always needs to be conscious in any free-standing version of curls not to engage other muscle groups like the shoulders, or even the lower back if you swing too much.
3. Seated Overhead Triceps Extensions.
Now we move on to triceps. Many of us consider the lateral head, the part of the triceps displayed in the famous side triceps pose, to be the most important for overall size and development of the muscle. In reality, it’s the long head that originates under your rear deltoid, that is responsible for the bulk of triceps real estate. And fun fact, it can only be fully stimulated with the arms in an overhead position so the movement begins from a full stretch. My go-to exercise to target the long head of the triceps is seated overhead extensions using an EZ-curl bar and a closer grip. I like to lean back somewhat to provide a better stretch, and I find that using the angled side of the preacher curl bench as my back support gives me the perfect angle of attach.
4. Bench Dips.
The most common way to perform dips is using parallel bars. Those are a spectacular compound movement because they also heavily involve the pectoral muscles, particularly if you employ a forward torso lean. If instead your intent is to better isolate your triceps, the better option is bench dips, done with your body suspended between two benches. Your legs are out straight in front of you with your feet on one bench, and your hands are behind you, knuckles forward and palms down as you push from the heels of your hands. If your bodyweight isn’t sufficient resistance, you can put plates on your lap.
5. Straight-Bar Barbell Curls.
Last but not least is the most basic and beloved biceps exercise of all time and one you’ve probably done hundreds of sets of, the barbell curl with a straight bar. For this exercise, I like to think about addressing my entire biceps, both heads. I keep my elbows in a neutral position and don’t let them drift away from my body as I curl. Try to imagine your elbows are bolted to your sides! Do your best to keep your form strict and really squeeze the biceps at the top of each rep. As for “cheating,” there definitely is a time and a place for it. You should use “cheat reps” to make the set harder, not easier. The best way to accomplish that is to do most of your reps in strict form until you can’t get any more, then loosen up your form a bit to eke out a couple more reps and drive the biceps deeper into exhaustion.
Kai Greene’s Redcon1 Stack
Total War® RTD – pre-workout
BIG NOISE® – pre-workout
ISOTOPE® – post-workout