It’s another arm day. You’re probably ready to put some serious size on your arms. (Maybe you’re even doing the Rich Piana 8 Hour Arm Workout!)
Now, on most programs, including Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass, the biceps are bundled together, then the triceps are bundled together after. So, should you work the bicep or tricep first in the gym?
Well, honestly- it doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s best that you actually SUPERSET the bicep and tricep. This means after you do one set of biceps, you do a set of triceps. This will actually decrease the amount of time in the gym, make your muscles work harder (which leads to more muscle growth), and you’ll get a much bigger pump since you’re working out your whole arm.
The bottom line? It doesn’t matter. But, personally- I would alternate them (called supersetting).
Let’s discuss this a little more in-depth.
First, Starting With Either Your Bicep or Tricep Does NOT Matter
So, starting with either your bicep or tricep first does NOT matter.
The biceps and triceps are on the other side of your arm, they are basically completely independent of each other.
This means that when you’re doing skullcrushers, it will have virtually no impact on how tired your biceps are for your curls.
However, there is the caveat that your forearms and grip strength can get sore- but overall- that has a tiny impact on most weightlifters after their first few weeks in the gym (when your forearm muscles adapt).
There are no scientific studies correlating stating that starting with your bicep or tricep first shows increased growth, and no bodybuilder has ever claimed it either.
Simply put, with how your bicep and tricep muscles are arranged, they don’t interact with each other when you’re lifting. It’s basically like bench pressing and then doing quadricep extensions. It just will have no effect on the other.
And no, this isn’t a stupid question. Tons of people in the gym ask me this. And yeah, it is confusing that when you’re doing your arm day, these muscles that are literally next to each other act completely independently of each other- which isn’t seen with muscle groups like the chest or back.
But, Supersetting These Gives a Ton of Benefits
Now, instead of just doing biceps, then once you’re all done- moving onto triceps, I recommend supersetting them.
Supersetting is a weird term, and chances are you’ve likely heard it before on a few bodybuilding videos. But, people at the gym do it all the time and you’ve probably seen it before.
I have no idea why they call it such a complicated phrase, ‘supersetting’. A better way to explain it is: ‘do a different exercise instead of standing around for 2 minutes.
That’s right, when you get done with your bicep curls, you just head on over and do tricep extensions in the meantime- instead of waiting 2 minutes doing nothing.
That’s all super setting is, but it has a lot of benefits.
Saves You a TON of Time in The Gym
Sure, I LOVE spending time in the gym. In fact, on average- I spend around 2-3 hours a day in there.
But, not everybody likes that. And even with me spending so much time in the gym, I ALWAYS superset my biceps and triceps.
Let’s do the math real quick. On most programs, there are 15 sets for the biceps and 15 sets for the triceps. Let’s assume that it takes you roughly a minute to complete each set, with 2 minutes of rest time. That’s nearly an hour and a half you’ll spend just doing your biceps and triceps. What?
When you superset, you’re almost cutting that time in half. Now you’re spending 45 minutes instead of an hour and a half.
That time difference should be enough to convince you right there.
You’ll Get a MUCH Bigger Pump
When you’re just working out your biceps for 45 minutes, then your triceps for 45 minutes, the pump only pertains to one muscle group.
Basically, when you start working your triceps, that bicep pump will soon go away, and then your triceps will be the only one that is pumped.
Many people believe that a good muscle pump is a key to muscle growth- and they’re not wrong. The muscle pump is an increase in blood flow to the muscle, which brings nutrients to the site.
Rich Piana explained this super well in his video about “feeder workouts” (how he put so much size on his arms so fast).
But regardless, the workout just feels better when your whole arm is pumped. You look incredibly big when BOTH your bicep AND tricep are pumped, I swear it adds a whole 1-2 inches to your arms.
More Muscle Growth and Muscular Endurance
A lot of people online have said that super setting doesn’t increase muscle growth- but that’s simply not true.
The real way to grow muscle is ‘progressive overload’ and ‘time under muscle tension’.
To grow muscle, you NEED to OVERLOAD it. You need to make your body think that your muscles are NOT capable of handling what you’re lifting and that they need to grow MORE. There is no other way to do this.
This is why you have to increase the weight and struggle sometimes to grow, because your body needs that increased stimulus to grow.
When you are supersetting, you are putting your arms through much more tension and load.
Let me explain.
Even though the triceps and biceps are seperate, when you are supersetting you are doing two things:
A) Overwhelming your grip/forearm muscles.
B) Lowering the rest time dramatically.
When you’re doing this, it is increasing the progressive overload and tension on your arms.
The most notable increase will be forearm strength. Earlier, I mentioned that your forearms adapt pretty quick, and don’t really grow any further.
When you are supersetting, it overwhelms your forearms massively. If you’ve had troubles growing your forearms, this is something you need to try!
Your forearms have a hard time because they are essentially getting no rest over the next 50 minutes. They are being constantly loaded with new weights in different exercise forms, and it causes massive forearm growth.
Additionally, when you lower the rest time at all, it increases the load to the muscle. This builds what is called ‘muscular endurance’- basically how much your muscles can put up with at once before they reach ‘muscle failure’.
As you increase this, your overall strength increases as you can hold that weight for a much longer time under tension.
So, Bicep or Tricep First in the Gym? Both!
So, the bottom line is that you should superset them so you are alternating them.
For instance, you do 1 set of 12 reps of Bicep Curls, then you do 1 set of 12 reps of Skullcrushers, then you go do your 2nd set of 12 reps of Bicep Curls, and so forth.
This will save time and help you see more muscle growth.
But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which one you do first- so if you don’t want to superset them, just flip a coin and go with that!