As someone who has been bodybuilding for more than 10 years, I’ve used an arm blaster to break through plateaus and increase the quality of my arm workouts.
So, is the arm blaster worth it? The arm blaster is absolutely worth your investment. The arm blaster promotes proper posture, technique, and biceps isolation during bicep curls. For this reason, the arm blaster is a very effective piece of equipment to take your biceps to the next level.
To help you decide whether to invest in an arm blaster, I’ll explain exactly how it works, if it’s effective, and who I think it’s best for.
What Is An Arm Blaster?
An arm blaster is a narrow plate with two grooves for your arms that you wear around your neck. This piece of equipment holds your upper arms in place so that you can’t “cheat” while performing bicep curls, which may allow you to target and isolate the biceps more effectively.
Arms blasters have been around since the 1970s and became popular when Arnold Schwarzenegger started using it for his bicep training. Now they can be found in home gyms, specialty gyms, and perhaps a few commercial gyms all over the world.
What Claims Do Arm Blasters Make?
Common claims about the arm blaster (pulled directly from arm blaster manufacturers' websites) include:
- “By requiring you to keep your elbows tight against your body, the arm blaster stimulates a stronger muscle connection, promotes proper form, and aids in overall isolation of the biceps — taking full advantage of a grueling arm workout.”
- “Our arm blaster provides an innovative, unique way to prevent sloppy form and the recruiting of secondary muscles by solely targeting the two bicep heads.”
- “The arm blaster is essential for bicep isolation, bicep growth, and can be used to perform dumbbell or barbell curls.”
- “If you’re looking to target the upper arms, this tool is a time-tested way to isolate the biceps for a very intense, difference-making workout.”
Are these claims legit or just another marketing ploy? Let’s dive into it.
Are Arm Blasters Effective?
Arm blasters can be effective for bicep isolation and growth because they prevent your arms from shifting backward during the concentric (curl) and eccentric (lowering) portions of a bicep curl, which keeps the emphasis on your biceps rather than shifting the load to other muscles.
Arm blasters are also beneficial for the following reasons:
- Arm blasters promote good technique. Fatiguing sets or heavy loads often lead to the recruitment of secondary muscle groups to help lift the weight.
Arm blasters can help prevent excessive technical breakdown as you get tired, which reduces the involvement of secondary muscle groups and allows you to train your biceps to failure.
- Arm blasters can help improve posture during curls. Proper posture is extremely important during curls because many lifters tend to lean backward to try and swing the weight up while doing curls.
This places unnecessary stress on the lower back and also takes the emphasis off the biceps by using momentum. Using an arm blaster can help fix both of these mistakes.
Arm blasters can help prevent injuries during bicep curls. As mentioned in the previous points, as you get tired, you may try to swing the weight, shift the load to other muscles, and stress the lower back, all of which can increase your risk of injury.
Using an arm blaster can help improve posture and technique and reduce your risk of injury.
Altogether, these are well-known benefits that seem to match the claims that are made by the companies that are selling them.
Can You Get Similar Benefits Without Using An Arm Blaster?
Arm blasters are a fantastic piece of equipment, but if you don’t have access to an arm blaster then you may be able to achieve similar benefits with other movements that lock the upper arms in place to prevent cheating.
Some examples of arm blaster alternatives are:
- Concentration curls: a variation where you perform single-arm bicep curls while resting your upper arm against your inner upper thigh. This recreates the isolation effects of the arm blaster, while requiring only dumbbells, making it a perfect variation at a hotel gym, garage gym, or commercial gym.
- The incline bicep curl: is where you rest your upper arm against the head of an incline bench to simulate the effects of an arm blaster. This is a great variation that is very similar to the arm blaster, by isolating the biceps and restricting the technique to strict repetitions.
- Preacher curls: very similarly isolate the biceps while promoting consistent technique from the seated position. This is a great alternative to the arm blaster, however, access to equipment (preacher curl bench) is dependent on where you train.
Are There Any Drawbacks To Using An Arm Blaster?
Although the arm blaster has many benefits, there are some reasons why you may not want to add them to your program.
- The arm blaster can be quite uncomfortable. Regular bicep curls have more range of motion and freedom and tend to feel more comfortable; however, they’re typically performed incorrectly because of this freedom.
By fixing the arms to the arm blaster pad, we are restricting our movement to keep tension on the biceps, but this does come at a cost as it can be quite uncomfortable.
- The arm blaster costs money and needs to be brought to the gym. While the arm blaster is extremely effective, it does cost money as most commercial gyms don’t have them available for use. Furthermore, the arm blaster may not fit in your gym bag, and lugging it around can be a nuisance.
- The arm blaster is difficult to load. What makes the arm blaster such a good piece of equipment is that it makes lower loads feel more difficult (because you can’t cheat), which may not align with your goal of lifting more weight.
The arm blaster is so restrictive you won’t be able to use heavier loads; however, you’re likely better off putting your ego to the side and focusing on proper technique anyway.
4 Signs You Should Get An Arm Blaster
1. You Are Experiencing Aches and Pains With Regular Curls
Improper bicep curl technique can lead to aches and pains in the elbow, as well as other muscle groups. Adding the arm blaster to your program can place more of an emphasis on bicep isolation and proper technique to take the stress off of your joints.
2. You Have Hit A Plateau In Your Biceps Growth
If you notice that progress has stalled, then it may be time to switch up your stimulus to give your body a reason to have to put on more muscle. You can do this by switching from the standard curls to an arm blaster variation.
3. You Are Bored With Your Current Bicep Program
Bicep training is very straightforward so it can easily become mundane. Adding new exercises that challenge you in different ways, like arm blaster bicep curls, can help keep you motivated and consistent with your training.
4. You Want To Improve Your Curl Technique
If you notice that you’re often swinging or using momentum to lift the weight or you’re struggling to feel your biceps working when performing curls, then it’s time to focus on improving your technique. Using an arm blaster can help you learn how to perform curls properly and reduce your risk of injury before it’s too late.
Who Shouldn’t Use Arm Blasters
The only people who shouldn’t use an arm blaster are beginners because there are already costs and barriers to training for beginners. Furthermore, there are many free exercises and alternatives to arm blaster curls that may produce similar effects.
That said, if you’re a beginner and you have free access to an arm blaster, then there is no harm in incorporating arm blaster curls as they are a safe and effective movement.
If you don’t have free access to an arm blaster then it may not be worth it, especially if you have limited space in your gym bag or don’t have an option to store it.
My Own Personal Experience Using The Arm Blaster
I have benefitted from an arm blaster and continue to implement it as a staple exercise for training my biceps. As a bodybuilder, I am always looking for new ways to take my bicep training to the next level.
Preacher curls and arm blasters are exercises I never really take out of my training, but the light and ergonomic design of the arm blaster makes it more favorable for me.
Arm blasters can be used seated or standing, with one or two arms, and with barbells, dumbbells, bands, and an EZ bar. Altogether, this makes the arm blaster one of my favorite bicep curl variations.
Arm Blaster Recommendation
If you are in the market for an arm blaster, you can’t go wrong with the Gymreapers Arm Blaster. The Gymreapers Arm Blaster is made of heavy-duty aluminum and builds off of the already innovative old-school bodybuilding classic arm blaster design.
I especially like how sturdy the Gymreapers Arm Blaster is, being a quarter of an inch thick and made of heavy aluminum. This makes me feel as though I can get some mileage out of the arm blaster without there being extra wear and tear.
The padded ends also make it extremely comfortable against the arms, which is unusual for an arm blaster but greatly appreciated. The adjustable neoprene padded strap reduces the amount of tension on the neck which adds extra comfort.
There are also three colors to choose from. Personally, the red one is my favorite, and I like the look and design.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do arm blasters make a difference?
Arm blasters can make a huge difference in improving bicep curl technique and bicep isolation. It is also much smaller and cheaper than a preacher curl bench, so it's one of the most effective exercises of its kind.
Where should an arm blaster sit?
The neck strap should comfortably wrap around the neck while sitting in front of the upper abdomen or stomach.
When should I use an arm blaster?
An arm blaster can be used if you have plateaued in your arm training or are looking to boost your bicep curl performance.