Owning a big set of arms is something all guys want to have. If you lift weights, you either get asked how much do you bench, or someone grabs your arms to see how thick, full and big they are. Owning a huge set of pipes shows everyone that you are pounding the weight at the gym and downing protein shakes to recover and grow. The sad thing is not all guys who lift weights have a huge set of arms.
I think this is because of a few reasons:
We have all heard this before from Arnold that you need the “pump” in the arms to get them to grow. While this does hold some truth, it won’t always result in bigger muscles. If high reps and a “pump” in the arms was the key to muscle growth in the biceps, then all of the guys on the Crew team would have big arms.
Isolation work does have its place, especially when it comes to smaller muscle groups like the arms and calves. Too much isolation can take away from the overall development of your arms. Look at guys that compete in strongman competitions. They simply lift and carry heavy weight, usually with thick handles and awkwardly shaped objects and have huge arms (farmers walk and DB curl to overhead press).
Gymnasts are also known to have huge and shredded arms relative to their bodyweight. They mainly perform push-up, pull-up and dip variations, none of which are isolation movements.
Explosive exercise with maximal speed is highly technical and requires full nervous system recovery for maximum gains. By including explosive movements in your arm training, you tap into your nervous system to improve your heavier bodybuilding movements. You become a more efficient lifter. You also hit muscle fibers that you usually would not hit with traditional strength movements. Since there is such a big neural demand, you need to do this at the beginning of your workout.
So what is my solution?
First, warm-up with a few sets of explosive arm movements to activate the nervous system and increase blood flow to that area. This is your movement prep for the heavier work. Then, use heavy weight and low reps and perform compound movements that require the arms (triceps and biceps) to take up a lot of the work.
Below is a routine that I have done with my clients and myself time and time again. If you want your arms to be huge like a strongman and ripped like a gymnast, follow this workout program 2 days a week.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Explosive rope 2 10 90 sec Explosive
1B Explosive rope curls 2 10 90 sec. Explosive
2A Close Grip bench Press 3 10 90 sec 1/2/3
2B Incline DB Hammer Curl 3 10 90 sec. 1/2/3
* 3A Chin-ups 3 5 90 sec. 1/2/3
* 3B Dips 3 5 90 sec. 1/2/3
** Weight plate pinch grip 1 MAX carry
** Weight plate pinch grip 1 MAX hold
-Perform the 1a and 1b exercises as a superset, as well as the 2a and 2b.
** Go as heavy as possible with good form on these exercises. Gripping heavy weight is the key.
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