Q: What is the most effective way to train arms for massive gainz?
If you answered A, you are a sicko and besides elbow tendinitis you probably also suffer from some form of extreme arm-dysmorphia. Seek help immediately.
If you answered B, you are probably glad winter is here so you can cover up your chicken legs with baggy sweat pants. Chances are you may have been kicked out of any “real gym” including mine. Quit hogging the squat rack.
If you answered C, you are correct. If you answered D, you are also correct.
The Truth About Arm Training
Ok, it was kind of a trick question. I have always believed that attaching arm workouts to the tail end of that muscles corresponding compound lifts, such as adding accessory tricep exercises to the end of bench workout or throwing curls into the session after pull downs and rows, makes sense and is an effective way to program.
Every “pushing” workout involves the triceps anyway, and since they will be nice and warmed up it is a perfect time to finish them off. Likewise, the biceps are utilized in any “pulling” workout so the same logic applies. All in all, that is an effective system and one that the majority of lifters probably adhere to in one form or another.
However, if you truly want to make some serious arm gains this winter I suggest you add an additional arm day - one where they can be the entire focus of your energy and enthusiasm rather than playing second fiddle to the larger muscle groups.
Training arms an additional day by themselves will allow you to really throw around some heavy weight and attack the workout in a way that is tough to do if you are already fatigued and halfway through a session. More weight + more energy + more intense focus = bigger arms. Has there ever been a simpler equation to understand?
The Guns-a-blazing Program
The Guns-a-Blazing program consists of 2 Arm specific workouts, one that consists primarily of heavy mass building movements, and another that consists of high volume isolation movements to really carve up the detail in those guns and bring on the hypertrophy.
There are also two different approaches you can take to this program. If you currently perform accessory arm exercises at the end of your pushing and pulling days, then I recommend you add one of these workouts in on a separate day and alternate each week between the heavy day and the detail day.
The other option is to refrain from doing curls and extension movements on your back and chest days and utilize both of these arm workouts each week. Or, if you answered A. to the above quiz…pick one of these routines to do every day and see how long it takes before your arms fall off.
Day 1: The Heavy Day
|2. Barbell Curls||9||10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2*, 1*, 1*, 1*|
|3a. Dumbbell Curl||3**||3|
|3b. Hammer Curls||3**||3|
|3c. Preacher Curls||3**||6 w/ quarter rep|
|4. Diamond Pushups||2||15|
|5. Overhead Dumbbell Extension||6||10, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2|
|6a. Dumbbell Skullcrushers||3***||5|
|6b. Cable Pressdowns||3***||10|
|6c. Weighted Dips||3***||10|
*Add 5 second negatives on each rep.
**After the 3rd round do an additional 4th round with a lighter weight for 10-15 reps of each exercise.
***After the 3rd round do an additional 4th round with a lighter weight for 15-20 reps of each exercise
It’s very important on both of these workouts to warm up with some appropriate body weight exercises to get your joints warm and get the blood flowing. Since this workout begins with biceps, warm up with 2-3 sets of 10 underhand chin ups before starting with barbell bicep curls.
If you have elbow or forearm issues then by all means, use an e-z curl bar, but when it comes to arm-mass builders there really is no substitute for a heavy olympic bar curl. Start with a light weight for 10 reps then start piling on the plates as you work up to a heavy triple.
Your last few sets will be a double and three singles, both of which you will perform in a slight “cheat curl” method. Use your hips slightly to curl the weight up, then squeeze at the top and lower for a 5 second negative.
Up next is a heavy superset of dumbbell curls and hammer curls, finished off with preacher curls. For the regular dumbbell curls and the hammer curls, perform the reps one arm at a time, alternating sides and squeezing at the top. When doing the preacher curls, add an extra 1/4 rep to the top of each rep to emphasize the bicep contraction.
After you have complete 3 rounds, lower the weight to about 2/3 and do an additional 4th set, upping the reps to somewhere between 10-15 per exercise.
As you prepare to transition into the tricep portion of the workout, hit a couple sets of narrow “diamond” style push ups to warm up your elbows. Grab a heavy dumbbell and hoist it overhead for tricep extensions. Try to keep your elbows in and your arms as close to your head as possible. Move up in weight each set and work up to heavy dumbbell.
Just for reference, you should be able to use roughly the combined weight that you would use on dumbbell skull crushers, if not 10-15lbs heavier (if you use 50lb DBs on skull crushers, the goal is to use a 100lb DB overhead).
Up next is a heavy superset of dumbbell skullcrushers, cable press downs, and weighted dips. If you struggle with weighted dips, you can move them to the beginning of the superset rotation. After you complete 3 rounds, do an additional 4th round with lower weight for 15-20 reps of each movement.
Move immediately to the nearest mirror and flex. You’ve earned it.
Day 2: The Detail Day
|2a. Serrano Misdirection Curls||5||6|
|2b. Tricep Cable Pressdowns||5||21*|
|3a. Dumbbell Iso-Curls||5||10|
|3b. Tricep Iso-Kickbacks||5||10**|
|3c. Bent Over Concentration Curls||5||10|
|3d. Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension||5||10|
|4b. Bodyweight Skullcrushers||10||20***|
|4c. Underhand Slant Rows||10||20***|
|4d. Bench Dips||10||20***|
*Perform in a 21 method, 7 reps half way down, 7 reps bottom half up, and 7 full reps
**Perform 5 each arm and then 5 with both arms at the same time.
***Lower reps by 2 each round.
Whereas the “Heavy Day” routine splits biceps and triceps up to train the individual muscles separately, the “Detail Day” supersets the two muscle groups together to give you an unbelievable pump. The key on all of these detail movements is to concentrate on strict form and prioritize the contraction when curling or extending your arm.
Once you have made it through 5 rounds of the first two supersets, it’s time to really find out what I mean by high volume. To finish this workout off, you must complete 10 rounds of a bodyweight superset that alternates between bicep-centric pulling and tricep powered pushing.
Start with 20 reps of each exercise on the first round, and decrease by 2 reps each subsequent round until you are doing only 2 reps of each on the final 10th round. The high teen rounds of 18, 16, 14 can be especially difficult.
If at any point you cannot finish the prescribed number, break the set into mini sets by taking a short rest and then rep out the rest of the reps.
There you have it - 2 great options for your dedicated “arms-only” day. By following this plan you will be sure to get those “gun gainz” you have been seeking, and you can do it with curling in the squat rack.