The Muscle You Really Need to Train For Eye-Popping Arms

This is your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.

Everyone wants bigger biceps—even people who say they don’t.

That includes trainers who rant against split training, bodybuilder workout mentalities, and isolation exercises, because most of those trainers still do biceps curls. And you know why? Because a bicep that looks like it was chiseled from marble is a truly awesome sight to behold.

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But if you really want biceps that pop, you can’t ignore the arguably even more important muscle that lies beneath them: the brachialis. Hidden from view (and slightly harder to pronounce), the brachialis is the primary mover of elbow flexion. It generates about 50 percent more power than the biceps, and targeting it in your workouts will not only allow you to curl heavier weights, but also lift groceries, small children, suitcases, and beer coolers with greater ease.

But if you need another reason to give the brachialis more attention, here it is: The stronger and larger it is, the more it will push up your biceps to produce that coveted upper arm bulge when you flex.

Your move: Although the classic curl works your brachialis, it’s a poor choice for building this underrated muscle, because the underhand grip allows it to share the load with your biceps. To zero in on your brachialis, you have to take your biceps out of the picture, and the best way to do that is to lift with your forearm in pronation (i.e., turned inward). In short, add the hammer curl, reverse curl, and Zottman curl to your weekly workout plan.

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If you aren’t already doing pullups, throw those in as well. In each case, you’ll give the brachialis the mechanical advantage, which will work to yours regardless of whether you’re trying to stretch the limits of your shirtsleeves or make an impression with no shirt at all.

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