Body Part Blitz: Arms
Start bursting out of your sleeves with this bicep workout
Pythons… guns… whatever you want to call them, the fact remains that most guys want big arms. Nobody wants to be walking around with a couple of sticks that barely fill the sleeves of a medium-sized t-shirt.
You’ve probably come across a few trainers saying that you don’t need to bother with direct arm exercises, as your arms get plenty of indirect work from exercises like the bench press, chin-up and so on.
This is true to a certain extent, as your arms are heavily involved in most pressing and pulling movements. But if you really want to build the biggest arms your genetics will allow, you’ll need to train them directly.
However, it's important to get the balance right. You don't need 20 sets and five different exercises just to train your biceps. If you're training hard, 6-9 sets each for biceps and triceps is plenty for most people.
One thing you’ll notice with today’s workout is that the reps are relatively high compared to previous weeks. Not only do the arms seem to respond better to higher repetitions (8-15) but it also takes a lot of the stress off your elbows, shoulders and wrists.
One final point: If you're cheating on technique then you're only cheating yourself. Lift the resistance and lower it. Don't just heave it up and drop it. Focus on maintaining constant tension on your arms throughout the entire range of motion. Swinging your body all over the place won’t produce the results you’re looking for.
Barbell Curl 4 sets x 10 repetitions (30-40 seconds of rest between sets)
With the barbell curl, you’ll pick a weight that you can do for 15 reps, but you’re only going to do 10. Rest for 30 seconds, then do 10 more. Rest for 30 seconds and go for another 10. Rest 30 seconds and do one final all-out set.
Although the first set will seem easy, the fact that you’re only resting for 30-40 seconds will mean that the last set or two will be hard work. In fact, you might not even be able to do 10 reps in the final set.
As soon as you’re able to do 10 reps in all 4 sets, increase the weight for the next workout.
Ring Dips 3 sets x 5-10 repetitions (60-90 seconds of rest between sets)
Using rings to do dips is a great way to make the exercise more challenging. If you don’t have any rings available, just do regular parallel bar grips.
It’s best to avoid bench dips, as they put your shoulder in a position that can lead to an injury, especially if you’ve got several 20-kg plates on your lap.
Make no mistake about it, ring dips are a very difficult exercise. So make sure that you can do at least 20 bodyweight dips using parallel bars before moving on to the rings.
Spider Curls 2 sets x 8-10 repetitions (45-60 seconds of rest between sets)
The Spider Curl isn’t an exercise that you’ll see very often. It earned most of its limited popularity from bodybuilding legend Sergio Oliva. If you’re not familiar with Oliva, he was the reigning Mr. Olympia until he was beaten by a rising star called Arnold Schwarzenegger.
With most bicep exercises, it’s easy to cheat and let other muscles do some of the work, something that’s almost impossible with the Spider Curl.
Lay with your torso facing down, on the back of the incline bench, with your legs shoulder width for balance. Hold a barbell with shoulder width grip. When completing the curl bring your arms slightly forward to increase the emphasis on the curl.
Aim for a total of 18 reps across 2 sets. As soon as you hit that number, increase the weight in the next workout.
Skull Crushers 2 sets x 8-10 repetitions (45-60 seconds of rest between sets)
Using a close grip, lift the barbell and hold it with your elbows in as you lie on the bench.Keeping the upper arms stationary, lower the bar by allowing the elbows to flex. Lift the bar back to the starting position by extending your elbow.
As with the Spider Curl, aim for a total of 18 reps across the 2 sets. As soon as you can do it, increase the weight in the next workout.
To finish off your arms and leave them really pumped, you’re going to do a couple of drop sets after the last set of the final two exercises.
To do a drop set, pick a weight where you reach exhaustion at 8-10 reps. As soon as you've hit muscular failure, drop the weight by 15-25% and aim for another 5-6 repetitions. Drop the weight by roughly 15-25% again, and grind out 3-4 repetitions.
Triceps Pressdown 1 set x 12-15 repetitions (+ 2 drop sets)
Face high pulley and grasp rope attachment or bar with clinched hands side by side (palms in). Position elbows to side.
Hammer Curl 1 set x 12-15 repetitions (+ 2 drop sets)
Stand up with your torso upright and a dumbbell on each hand being held at arms length. The palms of the hands facing your torso.. While holding your upper arm stationary, exhale and curl the weight forward while contracting the biceps.
The Hammer Curl is one of the best exercises for building the brachialis, which runs underneath the biceps. It's really only visible when looking at the arms from the side, but will make your arms appear much larger when viewed this way.