A Call To Arms.

Fall in line, cadets! Your drill sergeant instructor is here and ready to whip you into tip-top military-recruit shape! Are you tired of triceps that flap in the breeze...

Fall in line, cadets! Your drill sergeant instructor is here and ready to whip you into tip-top military-recruit shape! Are you tired of triceps that flap in the breeze like a flag? Biceps that are as flat as the desert? Well then snap to attention and focus on these important body parts. I'm not talking about sissy tricep extensions and wimpy bicep curls either. I'm talking about in-your-face-challenging, arms on fire exercises. Wave goodbye to your flabby arms and say hello to arms worthy of gold stars.


The Routine

Each bodypart has 4 exercises that are designed to hit your muscles hard. Do each exercise for 8-10 reps and 3 sets. Use 4 sets if you need a 4-rep warm-up set. Perform all of the bicep exercises and then all of the tricep exercises for 4 weeks then change to doing all of the tricep exercises first and the bicep exercises second for the next 4 weeks.

These advanced exercises need quality attention in your workout routine. If you already have a routine, you can incorporate them into your "arm day." If you work shoulders on the same day, your arms may get too tired and you might sacrifice gains in whatever body part you train last.

Try doing these challenging bicep and tricep exercises first, and then make a determination about training shoulders. If it proves too tough, put them elsewhere in your routine.

If you don't have a set routine, you can try these sample 3 and 4-day training programs. Get one day of active rest between each training day. You can take yoga or do cardio, but don't lift weights.

3 days a week:

  • Day 1: Legs, Abs, Shoulders
  • Day 2: Chest, Back
  • Day 3: Biceps, Triceps

4 days a week:

  • Day 1: Legs
  • Day 2: Shoulders, Abs
  • Day 3: Chest, Back
  • Day 4: Biceps, Triceps


Biceps Exercises

Straight Barbarbell Curls (Against the Wall)

If temptation gets the better of you when doing a curl, this exercise will eliminate that urge to swing the weight. It's virtually impossible to cheat and use momentum when your entire spine is pressed against the wall.

  • Grasp a straight barbell with a supinated grip, arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand with your back military straight against the wall. You may have to walk your feet out from the wall slightly.
  • Let your arms hang completely straight in a dead stop by your thighs.
  • Keeping your abs tight and your entire spine pushed against a wall, inhale and curl the bar up until your arms are completely bent.
  • Pause for 1 second and exhale while slowly lowering to the starting position.

Dumbbell Incline Curls

Once again, strict is the word. To put maximum concentration on the muscle, glue your elbows to your sides and don't let them flare out. Keep your head and entire back firmly pushed against the back of the chair and resist using your body to help lift the dumbbell.

  • Position an incline bench to a 300-450 angle.
  • Sit down with dumbbells grasped with a supinated grip. Let arms hang straight down by your side.
  • Keep your abs tight, inhale and curl one arm up. Pause for 1 second and exhale while slowly lowering to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other arm for one full repetition.

Chin-Ups

You are in the military now so chin-ups are a requirement of the job. Highly touted as a back exercise, chin-ups require great involvement of your biceps too. You can do them on an assistive device or have a partner help you until you get strong enough to bang them out on your own.

  • Using a close supinated grip, grasp the handles of an assistive device or the chin bar.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together the entire lift.
  • Keeping your abs and low back tight and preventing any lower body swing, curl your arms and raise your chin up over your hands.
  • Pause for 1 second and exhale while slowly lowering to the starting position.

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl (with Rest at Top)

Change your old biceps curls with a continuous tension principle lost in modern-day training programs. You will find that you have to lighten the weight that you normally curl for this challenging alternative.

  • Position an incline bench to a 90º angle so you have a back support.
  • Sit down with dumbbells grasped with a supinated grip. Let arms hang straight down by your side.
  • Keep your abs tight, inhale and curl both arms up.
  • Slowly lower the right arm down and curl it back up.
  • Slowly lower the left arm down and curl it back up.
  • One arm is always bent at the top while one is curling.


Triceps Exercises

Standing Barbell Military Press

Typically used to improve the anterior deltoid shoulder muscle, this exercise utilizes all three tricep heads and is more challenging for them than you think.

  • Squeeze the shoulder blades back hard and hold them together throughout the entire lift.
  • From a standing position, grasp a barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width using a pronated grip, with elbows pointed downward and to the front. The bar should rest on hyperextended hands at the clavicle level. In this ready position, inhale.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades back hard and hold them together throughout the entire lift.
  • Exhale as you drive the bar overhead until the elbows are fully extended.
  • Keep the bar balanced and under control. Hold 1-2 seconds at the top and squeeze the triceps. Slowly lower the bar to the starting position while inhaling.

Hands-on Stability Ball Push-up

This push-up will challenge your nervous system as well as your muscular system.

  • Choose a large stability ball for beginners, medium for intermediate, and small for advanced.
  • Lie with your chest against the ball, extend your legs out and place your toes on the ground touching each other. Keep your abs and low back tight.
  • Grasp the sides of the ball with open palms and squeeze while pushing up from the ball.
  • Pause for 1 second and slowly lower to just before your chest touches the ball.

Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press (with Rest at Top)

You don't have to climb a mountain or hang off a rope to feel continuous tension in your arms. Try this simple variation to an ancient shoulder exercise and realize maximal gains. You need to use slightly less weight than you would with a regular dumbbell shoulder press, but you will feel the burn much more!

  • Position an incline bench to a 900 angle so you have a back support.
  • Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with a pronated grip, bring them to your shoulders, then directly overhead with both arms completely extended.
  • Keeping the left arm extended and overhead, bend the elbow of the right arm slowly to allow the dumbbell to reach shoulder height.
  • Press the dumbbell back to the starting position. Keep the right arm straight and extended overhead and allow the left arm to bend and then press.
  • One arm is always held straight up while one is working.

Tight Pushups

"Drop and give me 20!" is a commonly heard expression in a boot camp. Sure you can do some typical push-ups with your arms wide apart, but to be the strongest and the best-sculpted recruit, you need to try tight push-ups.

  • Place both hands on the floor directly underneath your shoulders. Extend your legs out and place your toes on the ground touching each other. Keep your abs and low back tight.
  • Slowly lower your chest toward the ground by unlocking your elbows. Keep your elbows close to your sides and don't let them wing out.
  • Pause for 1 second just before your chest touches the floor and squeeze tight to extend your arms and body back to the starting position. Remember: no chicken wings!

About The Author

For more than 10 years Lori Incledon has been involved in personal training, sport-specific conditioning, physical therapy, athletic training and injury prevention.

She specializes in women's personal training, placing an emphasis on strength training. Her new book, Strength Training for Women, published by Human Kinetics, and is also available at www.loriincledon.com.

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