Ultimate Arm Blaster: Add An Inch In 90 Days

The Ultimate Arm Blaster routine has you performing 15 intense arm workouts in 90 days, cycling between strength, volume and rest-pause training.

Take notice! This arm blasting article isn't nonsense. If you want bigger arms, you've come to the right place. In 90 short days, you will be adding one inch to your arms. Ready? Then let's roll...

The problem with too many arm workouts is that they lack focus and variety. Most tricep and bicep routines are nothing more than a random selection of arm exercises, combined with a random number of sets and reps. Sure, these workouts feel right and look good, but a set of tools is only useful if you know how to use them properly.

Before we get started, you need to understand one important thing. Bodybuilding training doesn't work buffet style. You can't simply pick and choose what you use without a point and a purpose. That's a great way to fail, and to halt progress. But fear not. I am going to get you on track, educated, and growing in only 15 short workouts.

The Ultimate 90 Day Arm Blaster Approach

During the next 90 days, you will be training arms every 6 days, rotating between volume workouts, rest-pause workouts, and strength workouts. Each workout variation is designed to stress your biceps and triceps in a different manner. Understand that these will be intense workouts. You will not need to add in extra work, so push that thought out of your mind. Instead, focus on taking every set to the limit, using as much weight as possible.

Training Split

This program is a 6-day split, and you may need to make some adjustments to your schedule to fit in the necessary workouts because you will be training on different days each week. If a 6 day split simply does not work for you, I have provided an alternative approach that has you training 4 days each week. You can adjust this program to fit your schedule.

6 Day Split

  • Day 1 - Arm Day
  • Day 2 - Leg Day
  • Day 3 - OFF
  • Day 4 - Pushing Day
  • Day 5 - Pulling Day
  • Day 6 - OFF

If 6 days per week doesn't work for you, and you would like to base this routine on a 7 day per week schedule, simply add in a "Day 7" and use it as an off training day.

As with volume days, you will not be training to failure. Stop a set when you believe you may fail on the nest rep, and rack the weight.

Exercise Selection

This workout, as designed, is structured to help you maximize arm mass. Keep in mind that you will be indirectly working your arms on pushing and pulling days. The exercises listed on those training days target the biceps and triceps, and are an integral part of this 90 day plan. I do not recommend changing them for any other exercises unless you do not have available equipment. Most exercises are barbell and dumbbell exercises. For barbell work, do NOT swap in a Smith machine variation. Free weights are superior movements, and will help you to maximize growth.

You will notice that squats and deadlifts are included in this program. Do not perform these exercises unless you have a decent grasp of form. I do not recommend running this program without squats and deadlifts, so if you need to, take a few weeks and practice your form before starting.

Proper Effort

This program will not work if you do not give 100%. Proper effort, along with a quality eating approach will maximize arm size gains. Muscle building is a complex endeavor. If you give 100%, you will get 100%. But if you give only 80%, you are likely to see only a 20% reward. Hard work pays off. Always push yourself according to the recommendations provided for the volume, rest-pause and strength workouts.

Volume Arm Days

On volume arm days, you will be performing 10 set of 10 reps per exercise. For your first workout, use a weight that allows you to perform at least 15 reps. Perform 10 sets with this weight, resting 2 minutes in between sets. Do not train to failure. Stop each set when you believe you may fail on the next rep. Do not be alarmed if you can't complete 10 reps for all 10 sets. 10x10 is a goal. When you cab reach this goal, add weight.

Rest Pause Arm Days

Rest pause days will have you performing 7 sets per exercise, using the following rest periods between each set:

  • Set 1 - Perform the set, then rest 30 seconds.
  • Set 2 - Perform the set, then rest 30 seconds.
  • Set 3 - Perform the set, then rest 60 seconds.
  • Set 4 - Perform the set, then rest 60 seconds.
  • Set 5 - Perform the set, then rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 6 - Perform the set, then rest 120 seconds.
  • Set 7 - Perform the last set for this exercise.

As with volume days, you will not be training to failure. Stop a set when you believe you may fail on the nest rep, and rack the weight. Your goal is to complete a total of 40 reps for all 7 sets. When you do hit this total, add weight. For your first workout, use a weight that allows you to perform at approximately 12 reps. Please note that you are NOT trying for 40 reps per set. This is 40 total reps for all seven sets, which is slightly over an average of 6 reps per set.

Strength Arm Days

On strength days you will perform 10 sets of 3 reps for each exercising, resting 2 minutes between each set. In addition, you will finish each bicep and tricep workout with a 20-25 rep burn set. For the strength sets, pick a weight that allows you to perform about 6 reps. Don't be concerned if you can't complete 3 reps for all 10 sets. When you can, add weight. For the burn sets, pick a weight that allows you to perform at least 20 reps. When you can perform 25 reps on a burn set, add weight.

Ultimate arm blasterArm Blaster Cycle And Arm Day Workouts

As mentioned, you will perform 15 total workouts during this 90 day cycle. This breaks down into 5 volume, rest pause and strength workouts each. You will be rotating between each style of arm workout as follows:

  • Arm Workout 1 - Volume Day
  • Arm Workout 2 - Rest - Pause Day
  • Arm Workout 3 - Strength Day
  • Arm Workout 4 - Volume Day
  • Arm Workout 5 - Rest - Pause Day
  • Arm Workout 6 - Strength Day
  • Arm Workout 7 - Volume Day
  • Arm Workout 8 - Rest - Pause Day
  • Arm Workout 9 - Strength Day
  • Arm Workout 10 - Volume Day
  • Arm Workout 11 - Rest - Pause Day
  • Arm Workout 12 - Strength Day
  • Arm Workout 13 - Volume Day
  • Arm Workout 14 - Rest - Pause Day
  • Arm Workout 15 - Strength Day
Volume Day
Volume Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curl 10 10
Skullcrushers 10 10
Rest-Pause Day
Rest-Pause Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Curl 7 40 Rep Goal
Seated Two Arm Dumbbell Extension 7 40 Rep Goal
Preacher Curl or Drag Curl 7 40 Rep Goal
French Press 7 40 Rep Goal
Strength Day
Strength Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curl 10 3
Concentration Curls or Preacher Dumbbell Curls 1 20-25
Close Grip Bench Press 10 3
Dumbbell Kickbacks or Cable Tricep Extensions 1 20-25

Leg, Pushing And Pulling Workouts

Leg, pushing and pulling workouts will be simple, but effective. Remember the golden rule on every set...always push yourself, and when you reach the rep goal for each exercise, add weight. Do not train to failure for any exercises. It is not necessary. Push yourself until you feel like you may not complete another rep, and then stop the set.

On these training days you will be provided with a specific rep goal instead of a rep range. For example, on squats you will be performing 3 sets with a rep goal of 25. Use the same weight for all 3 sets, and when you can perform 25 total reps for these 3 sets, add weight. It's as simple as that.

Note: the "rep goal" is NOT reps per set. A rep goal of 25 for 3 sets is an average of 8.3 reps per set. A rep goal of 30 reps for 4 sets is an average of 7.5 reps per set. Perform as many reps per set as you can on each of the sets. The point is not to hit the average. The point is to perform as many reps as possible for each set. When the rep goal is hit, add weight.

For a given exercise, use the same weight for all listed sets. This cuts down on down time, and allows you to focus on the task at hand: growing big arms.

Leg, pushing and pulling do not involve a random selection of exercises. Each exercise is a heavy compound lift, and works synergistically with your arm training to help you pack on arm size during the next 90 days. I tried to limit this program to barbell and dumbbell training, but there are a few machine exercises (leg curls). Do not swap in machine movements or Smith machine exercises that are not listed in these workouts. This is an intense approach, and should be followed as designed.

Arm blaster

This program will not work if you do not give 100%. Proper effort, along with a quality eating approach will maximize arm size gains.

Warm Up Sets

Always warm up properly. For big lifts like squats, deadlifts and bench press, you may need to perform 3-4 warm up sets prior to your first heavy lift. For example, if you will be using 225 on the bench press, warm up as follows:

  • Warm up Set #1 - Bar x 10 reps
  • Warm up Set #2 - 135 x 5 reps
  • Warm up Set #3 - 185 x 3 reps
  • Warm up Set #4 - 225 x 1 reps

The last warm up set is more of a central nervous system (CNS) warm up. It helps prepare you for your working set of 225.

For less taxing exercises, you may need to perform only one warm up set. Always err on the side of caution. Better to perform an extra warm up set than to risk injury.

Leg Day
Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Squat or Front Squat 3 25
Dumbbell or Barbell Lunge 3 30
Romanian Deadlifts 3 25
Leg Curl 3 30
Standing or Seated Calf Raise 3 40
Pushing Day
Chest and Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 4 30
Military Press or Seated BTN Press 4 30
Dips or Dumbbell Bench Press 3 25
Seated Arnold Press 3 25
Pulling Day
Back, Traps and Rear Delts
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts 3 15
Barbell or Dumbbell Rows 3 20
Pull Ups, Seated Cable Rows or T-Bar Rows 3 25
Rear Laterals 3 40
Barbell or Dumbbell Shrugs 3 30

Diet, Supplements And Nutrition

All the hard work in the world won't pay off if you aren't eating enough food. To gain muscle, you must eat properly. If you are not familiar with bodybuilding-style eating approaches, do not start this program. Educate yourself, or you will waste valuable time and money.

As a general goal, aim to gain 2 pounds on the scale each month while on this program. Some of this gain will be muscle, and some fat. A proper diet strategy, couple with proper training, will minimize fat gains while maximizing muscle gains.

This is not a program that will produce results while "cutting". Unless you have super genetics, or are a rank beginner, it is very difficult to add muscle while trying to lose fat. This program would work well as a muscle maintenance program while on a cutting diet.

For more information on proper diet, check out these articles:

Here are a few fast start tips:

  • Program Preparation. Before beginning the program, try to zero in on the proper daily amount of calories to eat to gain weight. Eat exactly 3200 calories per day for 2 weeks, and watch the scale. If you don't gain weight, you will need to add at least 300 to 500 calories per day while on this program. If you gain more than a pound, you may need to back off daily calories a bit so you don't pack on weight too rapidly.
  • Protein. You want to eat 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. Make sure you intake protein with every meal, using a variety of protein sources. Protein foods include: eggs, milk, cheese, fish, chicken, and beef.
  • Protein Powders. To supplement your whole foods meals, it is generally wise to use protein powders. Protein powders are cost effective, and convenient protein sources. Whey protein is good first thing in the morning and post-workout. Casein protein is great in between meals and right before bed. Keep both types of protein powders on hand.
  • Carbs. Eat a variety of healthy carbohydrate foods. These foods include oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, beans, as well as fruits and veggies.
  • Feeling Full? Feeling full, and having a hard time eating enough? Try adding whole milk, a few handfuls of almonds, natural peanut butter, dark chocolate and olive oil to your daily diet. These foods are calorie dense, and won't leave you feeling stuffed. Also consider using a weight gainer.
  • Supplements. Start with protein powder, a quality multivitamin and fish oil. If you have already successfully gained weight and strength on a previous muscle building routine, I suggest adding in creatine and a pre-workout supplement during these 90 days to help maximize training energy and strength. If you find muscle soreness is an issue, you can improve soreness and recovery with a product like Scivation Xtend.

Final Thoughts

This program can be run longer than 90 days, especially if you find yourself making great progress. Muscle building is not magic. It requires a persistent effort in the gym, a consistent diet, and proper rest. Also, be patient. Don't assume you need to add more work into this routine to "multiply" results. Adding in a second arm day won't be helpful. You are already working your arms very heavily on arm day, and pushing and pulling day.

Trust the process, never miss a workout, and eat more if the scale isn't moving.

About The Author
M&S writers is a collection of all the other writers that have published content on Muscle and Strength.

88 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 06/21/2015 - 20:48

I'm looking to gain size is my arms just a little fuzzy on the rest/pause week. The rep goal is 40 for each of the 7 sets using the same weight throughout? Also I was thinking of using this routine with " the yard" chest routine from Roman Fritz. I'm looking to do all heavy lifts for size gains, what do you think?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/22/2015 - 09:56

You would ideally want to use the same weight but the main goal is to hit the rep goal so drop if you need to...I certainly don't think that's a bad idea to incorporate the yard program but you should be training the lower body with both the squat and hinge pattern. Deadlift and squat variations should be emphasized at least twice if not more per week.

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Posted Sun, 01/18/2015 - 03:30
Bill Lee

Ive made some good gains this last year, especially my arms.. My arms about 16.5 cold..I would really like them 17.. Im looking forward to giving this routine a try.. My problem is i need more size in my quads and hams.. The leg and push pull workouts almost look like a maintenance to me, do you have any advice for the leg days? Im an advanced lifter..Thanks Bill

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Posted Tue, 01/06/2015 - 20:07
Bill Lee

Hi, Im 55 years old and ive made alot of progress in the last 2 years... Im an advanced lifter and would really like to add an inch to my arms.. The only thing i have a problem with is I cant do deadlifts because of my bad lower back.. I can do dumbell sqauts, and leg presses.. You say you wouldnt do this workout without deadlifts, whats your opinion? Would i be better off with another program that emphasizes arms? Thanks Bill

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Posted Sun, 11/16/2014 - 05:21

Hi Steve,
I'm a high school basketball player, and I do alot of cardio basically I play basketball almost everyday, will this program work, and what tweaking needs to be done? Also, eating a lot of carbs will do fine yeah? I kinda hate counting macros and shit, I read somewhere prove me if I'm wrong, since I'm only 17 no need to worry that much about the exact macros, I'm 5'9 64 kilos :)
Thanks :)

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Posted Sun, 09/28/2014 - 20:31

I got a question if I don't have a heavy enough dumbbell what other lift could I do too get the same effects as the two arm dumbbell extension

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Posted Mon, 07/14/2014 - 18:38

Hey Steve,
Just curious on what the 6 day split of this workout would look like?

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Posted Wed, 07/31/2013 - 13:49

how can I pump my biceps?by lifiting heavyweight or light weight?

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Posted Mon, 07/01/2013 - 06:17

hi Steve,i have been working hard since last 1year and my arms size is not increasing more than 14" and wanting to get abs too.below is my routine-
day 1- shoulder
day 2- chest
day 3- back
day 4- cardio
day 5- biceps & triceps
day 6- legs
please tell me what to do? :(

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Posted Sun, 06/30/2013 - 06:47

Hi Steve. This is RP from India. I hv been working out since the past few years on and off. I'm struggling to increase my arms size but it doesn't ever increase more than 14". I also wanna get abs. Currently i work out 6 days in the week in the following routine-
Day 1- shoulder
Day 2- chest
Day 3- back
Day 4- cardio
Day 5- biceps, triceps
Day 6- legs
Is this the right routine? Pls suggest.

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Posted Fri, 06/14/2013 - 07:32

wow everyone needs to work out for his health

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Posted Wed, 05/15/2013 - 15:00
Rick van der Leeden

Hey steve,

I happen to have the problem that my arms wont grow as much as my body does in my opinion
is this a great routine that gives a standout to the arms?

Greets Rick

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Posted Thu, 04/11/2013 - 11:28
Jack Mort

Hi Steve,
I've been doing this workout for a couple weeks now and its working great. Just a quick question. In what days of the regiment should I work in abs?

Thanks, Jack

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 16:25

Hi im a 15 year old body builder and ive been training for about a year but about two monthsago i had an accident and broke my collar bone coming out of this and recovering i lost alot of muscle and i find it hard now to even have motovation to work out hard enough to gain muscle and i really want bigger arms but still.manage to stay with the skinny loking lean musclw will this workout help me at all and if i concenratef on just arms wouldnt i than start to lack in alot of other muscles ?

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Posted Fri, 03/22/2013 - 09:33


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Posted Tue, 12/11/2012 - 00:27
Nick Cacciatore

Can I do this while still eating a good amount say 2500 calories gain lean muscle mass while cutting?

Joey's picture
Posted Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:43

It will be nearly impossible to build any muscle while cutting. This would be an effective routine to help maintain as much muscle as possible during a cut, but that will be largely dependent on your diet. You'd be much better off to choose one goal at a time - cut or bulk.

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Posted Thu, 09/20/2012 - 00:52

hey steve,
I have been searching for a great new workout that would improve my mass, especially for arms. I was super happy when I found this workout routine because it was completely different than most. I just started it today and I have a very good feeling about it. One question though, my average for 4 sets of 8 reps on bench is around 205-225 depending on if its a good day. My question is that should i use 205 for those 4 sets and try to get as many reps as i can or should i use around 185 so i could be closer to the 30 rep goal?

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Posted Tue, 09/18/2012 - 06:41

Good day sir
I was reading through the article and find it informative, but on the work out proper i find it confusing on rep and rep goals. 3 set of 25 reps on squats, i find it extreme or i just misunderstood it. Would be thankful if you could elaborate it clearly. tnx

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Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 17:25

Steve, you're awesome!

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Posted Wed, 08/15/2012 - 11:42

What are your thoughts on daily pushups with this arm routine. I am 54 and trying to get rid of chest fat also. If ok , how many sets/reps

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Posted Wed, 02/29/2012 - 05:21

Just wanna get this clear as for the exercise volume day only 2 exercises that's it nothing more then i'm free to go and for the reps it's 10 and you said i dont need reach the failure what if the weigh is too much shall i drop it and keep doing the 10 reps plus i've always heard that for the size high weight less reps ?

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Posted Tue, 02/28/2012 - 20:48

i found this workout routine very good,must try it
Might be another same question,i try to be in the gym 4 times per a week,so workout should be

Volume Day
Leg Day
Pushing day
Pulling day
Day Off an than
Rest Pause Day
Leg Day
Pulling...and so on

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2012 - 18:48

Can I put a Abs training with it or it's not recemended?

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2012 - 18:23
Jesse Lichtenwalter

Hey Steve,
thanks for the workout routine. Arms seem to be the hardest place for me to put on mass and now I know. I've been doing them half ass! I'm gonna going to try it out. I can feel my arms growing just reading this workout routine!

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Posted Mon, 10/24/2011 - 15:42

Hey steve, would it be possible to encorporate some forearm / grip exercises into one of the arm days?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/25/2011 - 11:17

You could, but I wouldn't overdo things. Forearms and grip will improve from all the dumbbell and barbell work you use each week.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/25/2011 - 17:36

What are some good alternitives to the excersises using machines?

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2011 - 14:25


I'm currently running this split....

Monday- Arms
Tuesday- Legs
Wednesday- Chest
Thursday- Back
Friday- Shoulders

I have done several of the splits you have here and for whatever reason really like this one. I started it when I started Doug's High Definition program. I'm wondering if this split will work if I go back to more of a muscle and strength building routine? Or is that day between arms and chest just not enough?

Your input please!


Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/18/2011 - 14:53

Hi Sheldon,

Any split will work as long as you focus on progression of weight. Progression turns most every workout into a muscle and strength building workout. On the other hand, without progression of weight, you will gain very little benefit from any workout other than an improvement in fitness.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 02/28/2011 - 01:47

Hi Steve!

Is it okay to replace the skullcrushers with close grip bench press or dips? I have a bad tennis elbow....

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 12:06

Hi Steve!

Gotta give this one a shot!
Guess you could do this as a 3 day split as well, like:

- Arms
- Back/legs
- Chest/shoulder


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Posted Sat, 01/29/2011 - 01:03


The "off" day recorded on the six day split. Do you recommend to take a break from training on that day or can a little bit of cardio be fit in.



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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 18:43

Hi steve,

Thanks for all the great advice.
I am currently on my 4th week of the power, muscle, burn workout. I was wondering, would it be ok to cancel out the biceps on chest day and triceps on shoulder day, to focus on my arms by adding a day to the 4 day split?


No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 15:58
Steve T

Hi, Steve -

Thanks again for penning this article. 'Just wanted you to know -- because your design looks so promising -- that I'm starting on a variant of this routine, like I asked about in a previous post: whole body, rather than arms-only, and probably substituting a supersets/dropsets day instead of the rest/pause routine. I'll report back after 8 weeks or so, like I did with GVT.

I'm thinking of following it up with a rest week of whole-body, lower weight/intensity lifting along the lines of the research article at http://tinyurl.com/37a34t7. Seems like that might be a way to maximize gains during a recovery week. Any thoughts along these lines?

Take care,


Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:36

Hi Steve,

I don't have access to the link's article.

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Posted Tue, 11/23/2010 - 07:54

Hi Steve,

First time poster, long time reader!

I'm still in the beginner stage of lifting, in my opinion anyway. 183cm's, 86kg.

First up, my gym bites now i've gotten stronger...the equipment is almost maxxed out for me. Will be moving onto a new gym in the coming weeks! Still deciding which one though...
In the meantime, my question is, is it okay to be doing smith squats rather than normal back squats? Not only for this routine, but also for safety in general?

I do do normal back squats, but only once a month or so at a friends house. Near impossible to do this more than that until i get my own cage. Every other movement i have covered between home and gym.

Thanks in advance man,

Tim! (former "hard-gainer")

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/23/2010 - 08:43

Hi Tim,

Smith squats are very deceptive. They are actually more dangerous than free bar squats. The Smith squat changes the natural path of the bar, and forces your body to adapt to a rigid path, which can create issues when the weight starts to get heavy. In addition, your stabilizer muscles are grossly undertrained.

If you can't do squats because of a lack of cage, I would stick with things like leg presses, hack squats, lunges and leg extensions.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/23/2010 - 19:23

Yeah cheers Steve,

yeah they dont feel right at all...I'll hit up he leg press instead. Single leg of course ;)

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Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 11:47

hi steve
apologies if this has already been asked but, could i adapt it to do this

Volume - week 1
Day 1 - Chest
Day 2 - Biceps
Day 3 - Rest
Day 4 - Back
Day 5 - Shoulders and Triceps
Day 6 - Rest
Day 7 - Legs

Then continue to do all body areas with this volume, rest-pause, strength technique, or is doing this technique with all body parts over-training?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 13:13

Hi Pete,

You certainly could try this approach for all bodyparts. I don't see why it wouldn't work. Just be warned that the 10x10 days can leave some very intense muscle soreness. If I were you, I would try:

Day 1 - Chest
Day 2 - Back
Day 3 - Rest
Day 4 - Back
Day 5 - Shoulders and Triceps
Day 6 - Biceps
Day 7 - Legs

Working biceps 2 days before back could be challenging because of the bicep's involvement with back exercises.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/22/2010 - 20:46

I ended up alternating the grip close & wide each set. I use an E-Z bar for curls to minimize the discomfort in my wrists. Seemed to work good. Thanks for this program. My arms have increased in size undoubtedly After i complete it i will be looking for something for my chest & shoulders.

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Posted Fri, 10/22/2010 - 16:19

Up to arm workout/week 7 volume day Great program have noticed some good gains,my question is should i vary my grip on the barbell curls eg. 5 sets close grip 5 sets wide grip to hit the inner & outer bicep or just stick to the same grip throughout the ten sets?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/22/2010 - 16:37

Hi Stevo,

I would be careful about moving the grip around. For some close grip curls can cause elbow or wrist pain. If it feels good for you, then you certainly could give it a try.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/13/2010 - 02:49

is there a way i can merge pushing and pullin into one day?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 14:07

Hi Jiakai,

You could try using only the first two exercise from each.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/08/2010 - 04:12

Thanks Steve for the great article keep it up!!!

I am currently up to arm workout 5 of this workout and already I have notice huge gains and improvement. I now always look forward to completing each arm workout. Thanks again Steve.

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Posted Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:46

I've been lifting and studying bodybuilding and nutrition for about 10 years now. Like you were, I was always a hardgainer and most of my studying and accomplishments have come from mass and strength development. During my recent mass cycle, like many others, I put on a little fat. Not too much, just a few % over what I want to be at, which is expected with the additional caloric intake. Now my nutrition plan and workout routine are on track and allow me to constantly progress and avoid plateaus. I just wanted your input on one particular aspect of a possible training change I'm throwing into my routine. My next goal is to add 1.5 inches to my arms but I wnat to cut some fat first. I've always had an easy time cutting fat and keeping mass but I am considering doing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach to force my body into using fat stores instead of stored glycogen. My concern is that in the morning our bodies are automatically in a catabolic state. I have never done cardio in the morning before a meal because I refuse to let catabolism take over and waste muscle mass in the process but many people I know who compete in bodybuilding follow this routine. I expect something like this to REALLY dip into fat stores but also dip into muscle mass just as much which is obviously not what I want. How much do you think that catabolism and morning empty stomach cardio will effect the goal of retaining muscle mass during this fat loss process? I'd really like to take it up to cut some fat quickly but I'm not willing to lose muscle mass during the process. My thoughts are that it will cut fat but I will inevitably lose muscle mass during the catabolic cycle, especially in the morning pre-meal...even with a post-workout meal of starchy carbs and fast digesting proteins.

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 10:17

Hi Ross,

Because we are each so different in how our bodies react to cardio and muscle retention, I would advise starting slow at 2-3 sessions per week for the first couple of weeks. One thing many bodybuilders mention is that you don't want to jump into any form of cardio too fast if fat loss and muscle retention is a goal. Better to slowly ease into it and see how your body reacts.

I strongly advice purchasing some Xtend, or taking 5 grams of BCAAs and 5 grams of glutamine about 20 minutes prior to fasted cardio. This is recommended by some top level athletes.

If you start slow, and take your BCAAs/glutamine, you should be perfectly fine.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 12:49

Thanks, Steve. I currently put cardio into my workout routine but currently don't do it in the mornings because of the catabolic effects. I do take bcaas and glutamine for that purpose but usually for my lifting sessions as my cardio isnt nearly as intense as my gym sessions. I probably should take it right before cardio to help me just as it does after and during any of my intense lifting sessions. Especially if my body is already in a catabolic state from the long night. Thanks again