This is the second article in a series of workouts for beginners. Click here for "Back For Beginners!"
The arms are probably one of the most often trained body parts, other than chest, in most gyms today. Guys will work them to death because they want the sleeves of their shirts to fit a little tighter. It gives them a sense of confidence and the females obviously like a guy with huge guns popping out of his shirt. This article will explain everything a beginner needs to know about the arms, and how to train them safely and effectively to get the best results possible.
The arms are divided up into three main muscle groups. They are: The biceps brachii, which is actually two muscles that are connected at your elbow, and run up and under your shoulder muscle. The triceps brachii, which is three muscles that are connected at the elbow and shoulder, but work in contrast to your biceps, and the forearm, which is made up of several muscles that allow you to move your hand and wrist.
Guys To Look Up To
Before we go on, I'd like to mention some of the guys that I think have great arms. It would be a good idea to check out some of their pictures so you can get a good idea of what you want your arms to look like one day.
Leroy Colbert: Huge biceps, nice rounded form
Lee Priest: This guy can do no wrong with his arms; they are in my opinion the best there is. He has great proportion in all areas of his arms.
Sergio Olivia: His arms look bigger out straight then some guys look flexed!
There are many others, but lets move on the actual exercises.
Standing Curl: Lets start with the most basic exercise: the barbell or EZ-curl bar standing curls. This exercise is simple to execute. Stand with either a straight bar or EZ-curl bar (personal preference) with your feet shoulder width apart. You need to take an underhand (supponated) grip about shoulder width apart also. I suggest looking at yourself in a mirror to make sure that your wrists, elbow and shoulders are always in a straight line.
This will help you learn proper form. Start with the bar full extended, and raise the bar up to your chin by curling your arms up, but keeping your elbows still. At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps to get a strong contraction. Make sure to keep your wrists locked the entire time. If you let your wrist bend, you can easily hurt yourself. This is the main exercise for building mass in the biceps. I would do this exercise first in my workout, and use heavy weights. Remember to always warm up with a lightweight for one or two sets before going heavy, and NEVER CHEAT!
Alternate Standing Dumbbell Curls: I recommend doing this exercise second because you can still use heavy weight. This exercise will really add to the rounded shape that you want in your biceps. The same motion is used as in bar curls but one slight variation. At the top of the movement twist your hand so that your pinky moves up a little higher than your thumb. Try practicing it with no resistance. This is what will give you that extra peak that all the pros have. Its hard to do, but it will add that extra edge to your guns that your friends don't have! I like this exercise because you can use a lot of weight and contract the hell out of your bicep.
Preacher Bench Curls With An EZ-bar: This is a good isolation exercise for your guns. Because you are isolating your biceps, you will notice you aren't as strong as you would like to be in this exercise. Plus if you have done the first two exercises with the correct intensity, then you should be pretty exhausted by now! Position yourself with your chest against the bench and drape your arms over the angled pad. Grab the EZ curl bar with an underhand grip. Curl the weight up and contract your biceps as hard as you can. Lower slowly, being careful not to let the bar stress your elbows at the bottom of the movement. This exercise will place added stress on your lower biceps area.
Dips: Dips are one of the best exercises a beginner can do. They will primarily work your triceps, but also your shoulders and chest too. In order to place the stress on your triceps there are a few tips you need to know. First off, dips should be done between two bars that are parallel. Almost every gym should have this equipment, and if they don't, I would look for a new gym! The starting position should look like you are standing up with two bars in your hands.
Grip the bars tightly at all times so you don't slip. Now to begin the movement you need to lower your body toward the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides, and keeping your body as straight up and down as possible. If you lean forward it puts a lot of stress on your chest and shoulders, which isn't a bad thing, but save it for chest day! I suggest not locking out at the top. If you lock out by straightening your arms, you will take the stress off your triceps. If you cannot do dips with you body weight, use an assisted dip machine, which uses counter-weights to offset your bodyweight. If your gym doesn't have one, get a spotter to push up on your feet to help you out. As a beginner, you should strive for doing 3 sets of 10 reps on your own.
Close Grip Bench Press: Close grip bench press is another movement like dips, in that it is a compound movement. The movement is similar to regular bench press. You need to grip the bar about 8 to 12 inches apart. Grip where you feel comfortable, paying close attention to how your wrists feel. Usually the closer you grip, the more stress there will be on your wrists, so start off more toward a 12 inch spacing and work your way closer as you get more comfortable.
Keeping your elbows in close at your sides, lower the bar to just below nipple level. You don't need to extend your arms all the way out either. You should stop just short of full lockout. This is an excellent exercise for adding mass in your triceps.
EZ-bar Lying Extensions: Lie down on a bench and grab an EZ bar with about a 10-inch overhead grip. Your arms should be fully extended, but not right overhead. Rather, they should be slightly above your head to help keep the stress on your triceps. Keeping your elbows still, lower the weight down past your head, and then raise it back up to the starting position. Once you can't do anymore extensions, reps out with some close grip presses till your spent. This will really burn your triceps!
Cable Pressdowns: Set the cable up high, and hook up an EZ curl bar. Start with a pronated (palms down) grip. Keeping your elbows in close at your sides, press down to just short of locking out. On your way up, you need to stop around your nipple area. A good variation that you can do every other week is supponated pressdowns. Supponated = palms up. Remember it this way! You carry your supper on your hand that way. I know it's extremely cheesy, but you'll remember the difference. Anyway, using a supponated grip, perform these the same way. This will hit the outside head of your triceps.
EZ-bar Reverse Curls: Ok, I know this may seem weird, but train your forearms after back. I know you think they should be done with arms, but as a beginner you don't want to over train, so wait until your back workout is over to hit your forearms. They will already be blitzed from your back workout, so you don't have to do a lot. I also recommend shocking your muscles by performing a few sets with VERY high reps. Just like your standing curls, reverse curls will add mass to your forearms.
Grip the bar with palms down, and keeping your elbows in tight, raise the bar up so your fist is close to your shoulders. Do a few sets of moderate reps, maybe 10-15 and for your last set lower the weight, or just use the bar, and do as many as you can. Try doing 50 and see what type of nauseating burn you get! The shock from all the heavy weight and low reps from back training will add new growth and some sick striations in you lower gun area.
Exercise Sets x Reps
Standing curl - 4 x 15,12,10,8 2 warm-up sets to start
Alt. standing db curls - 4 x 15,12,10,8
Preacher curls - 4 x 15,15,12,12 use lighter weight and focus on form
Dips - 3 x 10, or as many as you can do
Close grip bench - 4 x 15,12,10,8
Lying extensions - 3 x 15,12,10
Cable press downs - 4 x 15,12,12,12 keep the reps high to get a good burn
Forearms (back day) - 4 x 15,15,15, failure try to do 50!
Click Here For A Printable Log Of Nick's Beginner Workout!
If you're new to the gym, give this workout a try. Pretty soon you'll need a permit to carry around those guns! If you have any question just email me.
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