3 Compound Exercises For Massive Biceps and Triceps

wide grip barbell curls and spider curls

These three compound exercises that will help build massive biceps and triceps.

For many people, the size of their arms is directly proportional to their self-esteem, they want to fill out their sleeves. Arms are one of the first places people look to pack on muscle mass on when they start working out, and one of the first features someone will notice out in public. While it may seem like a daunting task to get those bulging biceps and horseshoe-shaped triceps, knowing exactly what to do to challenge your muscles to see growth is imperative in actually achieving that.

In this post, we will take a look at three compound exercises that will help build biceps and tricep muscles into something almost stage worthy. Whether it be a compound bicep exercise or a compound tricep exercise, your entire arm will start to see great definition and something you can be proud of.

rope hammer curls

Benefits Of Strong Arms

Aside from the obvious benefit of adding to your aesthetic, strong arms play an important role in both sport specific and functional movements, meaning that they are not just for looks. The ability to provide stability to those vulnerable joints like your shoulders and elbows is something we shouldn’t take for granted. Also, by working those arms, you will start to see increased grip strength (1) as a results of those exercises you are performing. This will greatly increase the output you do during training of other exercises, for those results during performance.

What Are Compound Exercises?

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements which help in building size and strength and can increase your volume and intensity for all exercises (2). Isolation exercises (involving single joint), on the other hand, help in building muscle definition and separation. If you’re just starting out or have hit a plateau, compound exercises will help take your gains to the next level. By performing compound exercises, you will work multiple muscles with just one exercise to save time while also building better mind-muscle connection.

For those looking to shed some weight, by working more muscle groups, you are burning more calories, thus leading to a decrease in weight for a more shredded aesthetic.

Compound Tricep Exercises

Let’s take a look at some of the best compound tricep exercises to really put some meat on your bones.

Close Grip Bench Press

Majority of the people have weaker triceps as compared to their biceps. This is why we like starting our workouts with triceps. Close grip bench press is one of the best exercises to build size and strength in your triceps.

Make sure you maintain a full range of motion while performing this exercise. Your triceps consist of three heads; lateral, medial and long. You need to train them equally to ensure an overall growth. The close grip bench press works the medial and lateral triceps heads.

Barbell Skullcrushers

Overhead movements like the barbell skull crushers work the long head of your triceps. The long head is the hardest to develop as only a few exercises target it. If you haven’t done this exercise in the past, ask for a spot from someone at your gym.

Lie on a flat bench with your arms stretched outwards while holding a barbell. Keep your elbows fixed at a position as your lower the barbell so it is a couple of inches away from your forehead. Return to the starting position and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.


You don’t always need to use additional weights to build muscle. Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to add mass to your triceps. If the bodyweight variation feels too easy, feel free to add resistance by using weights. A good weight belt can help with this, or even a dumbbell between the feet.

You don’t need to lift heavy weight to build muscle mass in your arms. Pumping blood into the muscle by performing higher reps and following a full range of motion will do the trick. Your chest should be parallel to your hands at the bottom of the movement and your elbows should be locked out at the top of the movement.

Compound Bicep Exercises

Now that we have addressed the best compound tricep exercise, let’s look at some ones for the biceps.

Barbell Curls

Barbell bicep curls are one of the most effective bicep building exercises. Take a five-minute rest after you finish your triceps workout so the blood leaves your triceps. Muscle pumps occur when blood enters your target muscle group.

Use an Olympic barbell for the barbell curls. Maintain a strict form as you curl the barbell. Don’t swing your back or use momentum to lift the weights. Using improper form can lead to an injury.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Alternating dumbbell curls are a textbook bicep exercise. This exercise helps you in establishing a mind-muscle connection with your biceps as you’re targeting one bicep at a time. Maintain a full range of motion and avoid using momentum.

Pause and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. Stand with the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing each other. Your palms should be supinated at the top of the movement.

Underhand Pull-Ups

Underhand pull-ups are the ultimate bicep finisher. This exercise is incredibly effective as you lift your entire bodyweight using your biceps. If you can’t perform bodyweight pull-ups, use an assisted pull-up machine or a spotter.

By the end of this exercise, your pythons will be filled with lactic acid. Holding the pull-up bar with a wide grip will focus on your inner biceps and a narrow grip will work your outer biceps.

strong man

Compound Exercises For Arms

These exercises above will greatly influence your arm growth so you start to see some real muscle definition and shredded arms you want most. To help with increase energy and muscle pumps, look towards using a great pre-workout supplement to really provide for a solid workout. On top of that, check out a high-quality protein supplement in order to advance muscle growth and help with recovery so you bounce back faster for that next workout. Remember, recovery is where the muscles repair and grow!

Exercises Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 3 12
Barbell Skullcrushers 3 12
Dips 3 20
Barbell Curls 3 12
Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 15
Underhand Pull-Ups 3 20

Wrap Up

For those looking get those shredded arms, compound exercises are where you want to look. These will work multiple muscle groups while also giving you the edge when it comes to burning calories and saving time in the gym. Whether it be a compound bicep exercise or a compound tricep exercise, knowing which compound exercises for arms to perform will prove to be worthwhile for those gains. Give these exercises a try and be confident in showing off those absolutely shredded arms.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Lee, Julia-Ann; Sechachalam, Sreedharan (2016). “The Effect of Wrist Position on Grip Endurance and Grip Strength”. (source)
  2. Mangine, Gerald T.; Hoffman, Jay R.; Gonzalez, Adam M.; Townsend, Jeremy R.; et al. (2015). “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.