Armed For The Holidays
Holiday season has officially begun, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, one thing is certain: Between now and New Year's there's going to be a whole lot of decadent food within reach. And if you're honest, it'll be hard to avoid at least some cheating with all the candies, cookies and other gluttonous fare served at the homes of friends and family.
Then there are the holiday gatherings you're obligated to attend, such as your girlfriend's family party, your family party, your family's family party and, of course, the often-dreaded work holiday party.
By the time Jan. 1 rolls around, you can expect to over consume a solid 40,000 calories. But unlike the average Joes who'll pack those extra calories onto their waistlines, we've got an idea for you physique-conscious Joes: Put those calories to good use by adding an inch to your arms with the following program.
Reach For Your Guns:
There's one good thing about eating more calories than your body requires: It helps prevent overtraining. So, given that you'll likely overeat during the holiday season, you might as well push the limits of overtraining in an effort to promote new arm growth.
With adequate calories and protein, you'll be in a state known scientifically as "overreaching." This involves training that could lead to overtraining if it were maintained for too long, especially when adequate nutrition isn't provided. Yet as research from the University of Connecticut (Storrs) has found, overreaching can produce significant gains in strength and muscle mass.
The key is to overreach for several weeks but then completely stop training for a solid week or two. The layoff will stimulate the muscle fibers to grow following the weeks of training insult.
With our "Armed for the Holidays" program, you'll train arms twice a week at the gym and six times a week at home during both phases (more on this shortly). The gym workouts are broken into two three-week phases in which you'll train arms twice weekly. The first workout uses heavy weight and low reps; the second calls for lighter weight and twice the number of reps.
You'll also use high-intensity techniques such as negatives, rest-pauses, forced reps and drop sets, which induce both strength gains and muscle growth. Perform the same exercise from several angles - for example, change the bench angle on every set of dumbbell curls and lying triceps extensions - to ensure you're utilizing every possible muscle fiber in your bi's and tri's to spur growth.
In Phase 1 (Weeks 1-3), you'll do six reps per set in the first gym workout and 12 reps per set in the second. In Phase 2 (Weeks 4-6), this increases to 10 reps per set for the first gym workout and 20 reps per set for the second. You'll also use higher volume - doing more sets per exercise - during Phase 2.
Higher Reps, Bigger Arms:
The at-home workouts involve a twice-a-day technique in which you perform one set of 50 reps or more for one biceps and one triceps exercise in the morning, then do another 50-plus reps each later in the day. (These two short workouts should be separated by 8-12 hours).
In Week 1, use a weight with which you fail at about 50 reps. Your goal is to double the number of reps you can perform with your starting weight by the end of six weeks, as opposed to increasing the weight and sticking to 50 reps. Don't worry if you can't quite hit 100 as long as you increase your reps by some degree.
We suggest you do either barbell or dumbbell curls for biceps and lying dumbbell or barbell extensions for triceps (use the floor if you don't have a bench). Alternate which body part you train first, as well as which of the two suggested body part exercises you do first, if possible.
For the rest of our arms-expanding routine, pick up the January issue of M&F, featuring UFC heavyweight Frank Mir, on newsstands now!