You might think of biceps and triceps as fun and easy compared to, say, leg day. Well, MusclePharm-sponsored athlete Davey Fisher's arm overload workout is about to change your mind.
"Even though we're just working with biceps and triceps, this workout does have a lot of volume and is not your average biceps and triceps workout," Fisher warns. "It's gonna be very physically taxing, and it's gonna kick your ass."
This arm assault starts with the 21s method for dips and curls, which alternate between partial and full ranges of motion.
"We're gonna be doing these 21s as a form of pre-exhaustion right when we start our workout to isolate different ranges of motion," Fisher explains, "but also to prime the biceps and triceps to get 'em ready for the rest of the workout."
The suffer-fest proceeds through more skullcrushers than you've ever wanted to see in one place, pummels you with nasty high-volume cable supersets, then wrings out anything left in your arms with preacher curls and rope extensions. To wrap it up, give your arms a break with a few ab wheel reps. As in 100. (Ed. note: If you don't like tacking an ab move onto your arm workout, feel free to skip this move.)
Almost this entire workout is supersets, so keep your rest periods under a minute between exercises. Don't be tempted to phone in the last few sets, as much as you may want to. This is where the magic happens, but only if you really burn it out and go to failure.
Fisher's volume-overload prescription is slightly terrifying and should only be done every 2-3 weeks (yes, it's that hard), toward the end of the week when you've already hit the rest of your muscle groups. And remember that what happens in the gym only damages muscle fibers. It's the post-workout recovery and nutrition that rebuild those fibers and make your arms stronger. So don't mess it up.
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When you perform these 21s, do the first 7 reps with only the lower half of the movement.
"Start from the very bottom portion of the dip and only press up to halfway, with the arms still flexed," says Fisher.
Complete the next 7 reps in only the top portion of the movement, and the final 7 using your full range of motion.
To get the most benefit from your bench dips, keep your form nice and tight. Fisher emphasizes the importance of keeping your lower back close to the bench and maintaining a narrow grip.
As with the dips, keep the first 7 reps in the bottom half of the movement, the next 7 in the top half going all the way up to forehead height, and the final 7 reps using the full range of motion. Fisher encourages emphasizing the end points here.
"If you want to make this a little bit more physically difficult, add a one-second pause at the end point of each repetition to isolate that range of motion," he explains.
Three different skullcrushers (performed to the nose, the forehead, and behind the head) attack your arms from all angles.
"By doing these three different variations of the triceps extension, we can individually target different portions of the triceps muscle," says Fisher.
Do 12 reps for the first set of each variation, 10 reps for the second set, and 8 reps for the third. You'll be hanging out on that bench for a while, so choose a lighter weight that enables you to perform all the reps with proper form. Your triceps should be working hard the entire time.
"You want to avoid locking out the joints here because that would mean giving the muscle a break, and we're trying to maximize the amount of time under tension," Fisher says.
Cable Hammer Curl
To do a proper cable hammer curl, Fisher advises tucking in your elbows, pressing your shoulders back and down, and flaring the handles out at the top of the movement.
"Adding the flare-out at the top makes this movement a little more dimensional and attacks the biceps from a different angle and fuller range of motion," he explains.
As with the hammer curl, lock in your form throughout each rep by keeping your elbows locked in to your sides. "To maximize mind-muscle connection here, really focus on deliberate repetitions and keeping things under control," says Fisher.
Since you'll be getting pretty wrung out by this point, Fisher instructs going to failure for these last two exercises, however many reps that takes. Shoot for 12-15.
The lowering is as important as the lifting, if not more so.
"Make sure you're controlling the eccentric portion of this lift and exaggerating the range of motion while you lengthen to full extension, before bringing it back up a little bit faster to flexion," Fisher says.
But, as with the skullcrushers, avoid locking out at the bottom of the movement to keep your muscles working.
Mirroring the hammer curl, flare the ends of the rope out at the bottom of the movement, while keeping your elbows tucked in.
"That last portion where we flare the hands out will engage more of the triceps muscle and make it a little more physically productive," Fisher explains.
Ab Wheel Roll-Out
You're doing 100 total reps, however you can. Take breaks when you really need to, but make it a goal to limit the number and length of breaks you take.
"Allow 5-10 minutes to complete this," Fisher recommends, "because it's probably gonna be harder than you think."