If you lift weights on a regular basis, chances are you measure at least some of your success on the size and definition of your arms. Contrary to what a lot of exerciser’s believe, the size and shape of your arms is as much to do with your triceps as it is your biceps although the biceps on the front of the upper arm is often considered the “glory” muscle!
Well developed arms offer more than simple aesthetic appeal and can enhance your sporting performance and even make everyday tasks like DIY and gardening easier.
The main problem with many arm training programs is they are little more than one-trick ponies. That is to say they only really address a small part of the muscle activation potential of the biceps and triceps.
There is nothing wrong with performing multiple sets of moderate weight biceps curls for example but to maximize your arm development you should be thinking about working all three types of muscle fibers within your arms.
Your have three types of muscle fiber : Type 2b, type 2a and type 1. Type 2b are best suited to heavy weights/high intensity exercise, type 2a are more suited to moderate weight/medium intensity exercise while type 1 are for light weights/low intensity exercise.
In this arm program you’ll be using heavy, moderate and light loads to ensure that each type of fibre is challenged sufficiently.
It’s only by following a more holistic approach to arm training (such as this one!) that you will develop your best ever arms…!
As with any workout, you should always start your session with a general warm up which includes some light cardio, joint mobility and dynamic stretching. Also, make a point of performing one or two light sets of each exercise to ensure your arms are locked, loaded and ready for action!
The Arm Workout
Perform this workout twice a week on non-consecutive days, preferably at the end of a normal upper body workout. You might want to consider cutting back on your chest, shoulders and back training a little bit so you have more energy for your arm specialization training.
Also, remember that you can’t build something out of nothing so make sure you are eating a diet that supports muscle growth and includes plenty of protein and a good post-training recovery shake or snack.
|Close grip chin ups
|Parallel bar dips
|EZ biceps curls
|EZ triceps extensions
As you can see, this workout uses a training system called super sets. This means that you perform the first exercise, designated as a) on the chart, and on completion immediately perform the second exercise, designated as b). On completion of the second exercise, rest for the prescribed period and then repeat the pairing. Once you have completed all the designated sets of the first pairing, rest a moment and then move on to the next pairing.
1a Close grip chin ups
Grab a pull up bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip and hang at full stretch. Without kicking or jerking, bend your arms and pull your chin up to and then above the bar.
Pause for a second and then slowly lower yourself back down to full extension. If you can do more than six repetitions, attach a weight around your waist. If you are unable to manage four reps, perform underhand close grip lat pull downs instead.
1b Parallel bar dips
Support your weight on extended arms. Bend your legs and cross your feet behind you. With your chest up, bend your arms and lower your shoulders down towards your hands until your elbows are bent to slightly more than 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat.
If you can do more than six repetitions, attach a weight around your waist. If you are unable to perform four reps, perform bench dips or use an assisted dip machine instead.
2a EZ biceps curls
Grab an EZ bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Starting with your arms straight, flex your elbows and curl the bar up to shoulder-height. Slowly lower the bar back down and repeat.
Make sure you keep your upper body completely still so as to keep the tension on your biceps – where it belongs!
2b EZ triceps extensions
Grasp the same EZ bar you just used with an overhand shoulder-width grip and then lie on a flat exercise bench. Extend your arms and hold the bar over your shoulders.
Keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor and immobile, bend your elbows and lower the bar (carefully!) to your forehead. Extend your arms to raise the bar and repeat. Note, this is NOT a pressing exercise and the only movement should be your elbows bending and straightening.
3a Concentration curls
Sit on an exercise bench with a dumbbell in your left hand and your right hand resting on your right knee for support. Lean forwards, rest your left upper arm on the inside of your thigh and let the weight hang straight down from your shoulder.
Keeping your upper arm fixed in place, curl the weight up until your biceps are maximally contracted. Smoothly lower the weight and repeat. On completion of your set, perform an identical number of repetitions for your opposite arm.
3b Cable kickbacks
Stand facing a low cable pulley. In a staggered stance, bend down and grab the handle in one hand. Lean forwards from your hip and then pull your upper arm in close to your body so that it is parallel to the floor. Bend your elbow so your hand is close to your shoulder.
Keeping your legs and upper body fixed in place, extend your arm fully against the resistance offered by the cable. Bend your arm and repeat. On completion of your set, perform an identical number of repetitions for your opposite arm.
Perform this workout for four to six weeks before assessing your progress and moving onto a more general workout or a different body part specialization routine.