Arms aren’t really like any other body part – people don’t tend to see big arms and think “damn, that guy must have great genetics”. More often than not, big arms are the by-product of serious time under the iron.
If you are travelling and want to pack some serious size on to your pipes, this means you will need to find a gym. Don’t fret though – this workout only needs to be performed once a week, and almost any gym will have the necessary equipment.
The Big Arms Workout works so well because it trains the entirety of the arms, and will push you to train until muscular failure. This means it will take a long time for your arms to fully recover.
To begin with, you’ll be training for strength and power using low reps. Following that you’ll move on to higher rep ranges that are generally considered to be the best for muscle growth (hypertrophy).
You’re going to be doing three supersets that are each intended to work the muscle differently. It’s a format that can be used for many muscle groups, not just arms.
Alternating (henceforth referred to as ‘supersetting’) bicep and tricep exercises allows you to use your time in the gym more efficiently, and you can be finished within half an hour or less. This can easily be added to the end of a pre-planned lower body workout, or performed on its own day – it’s entirely up to you.
The Big Arms Workout
Superset 1 – This is where you’re going to be lifting heaviest. These are compound movements which recruit multiple muscles and joints, so you’re going to be at your strongest here. Use the maximum weight you can to complete the sets and reps.
Perform 5 sets of 5 reps, resting for up to 1 minute between exercises. After your last superset, rest for a minute and move to the next superset.
A2) Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
Superset 2 – These exercises won’t recruit quite as many muscles as the compound movements in the first set, but will still involve some additional muscles. As well as your biceps and triceps, these will hit your shoulders and traps – which can only be a good thing.
Go for 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise, alternating with only minimal rest in between. Move straight on to the final super set once you’ve finished you last set.
B1) Standing Barbell Curls
B2) Close Grip Dips
Superset 3 – Drop Sets. Drop sets are awesome for building muscle mass, and are going to give you a great pump. Tom Venuto, a natural bodybuilder, went as far as saying “drop sets are the best high intensity bodybuilding technique of all time”.
This last superset really focuses on isolation movements and is going to target the biceps and triceps intensely. You’ve also got the added benefit of stressing the forearms.
Start with a reasonably high weight on each machine – something where you’d struggle to do 10 reps. Do 10 reps on each machine with no rest in between. Immediately after, lower the weight slightly and do 12 reps on each. Keep lowering the weight, and upping the reps in increments of 2 until you’re doing 16-18 reps on each machine.
C1) Standing Biceps Cable Curl
Reps: 10, 12, 14
C2) Triceps Pushdown
Reps: 10, 12, 14
Keeping It Fresh
You can make smart changes to this routine every 6 weeks or so by swapping exercises for others that make good substitutes (ie dips for skull-crushers, barbell drag curls for Zottman curls). You could also switch the drop sets for pyramids, which are the exact opposite of drop sets. Just don’t let me catch you curling in the squat rack…
This workout can work really well for anyone, and is easily adapted to suit the equipment available and your fitness level. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t build some serious lady-killers (or man-killers, whatever) using this set-up.