Today, you'll take your arm training to a new level by attacking your biceps and triceps from all angles. You'll also use supersets, dropsets, and negative reps to shock your arms into growth. This workout isn't for beginners or anyone looking for a quick pump. I can't promise it will be easy—in fact, it's downright brutal and intense—but it will blow up your arms!
Feel free to add this workout to your routine whenever you feel like stepping things up and chasing the pump, whether that's once a week or once a month. It should take you 45-60 minutes to complete. Now, let's rock.
Incline dumbbell curls
For each of the exercises in today's workout, perform 3 sets of 15, 10, and 5 reps. As the reps decrease, the weight you use and the intensity you bring should increase. Use the first set of 15 reps as a warm-up to solidify the mind-muscle connection, find your tempo, and get used to stretching and squeezing the muscle. The most important thing here is fully stretching the biceps and fully squeezing at the top, or at peak contraction. Also, keep your palms facing forward or even outward as much as possible.
When you get to the last set, complete 5 reps. As soon as you hit muscle failure, reduce the weight by 50 percent, and keep cranking out the reps. Even as your approaching failure, make sure your form is solid.
Don't just bounce up and down to squeeze out as many reps as possible with these. Form is everything. Stay close to the bench, keep your elbows tucked in, and slowly lower yourself under control, feeling your triceps stretch. Then, explode up at the top of the movement. With each rep, flex your triceps as hard as possible.
There's no set rest period between movements in this workout, so just go when you're ready. As soon as you feel confident enough to jump back into the next set and do work, get to it. When you reach the final set of 5 reps, kick the intensity up a notch by resting a plate on your lap. As soon as you hit failure, shove it off and continue busting out reps.
Cable triceps push-down
The supersets keep coming! For cable triceps push-downs, the most important thing is to keep your elbows still and locked at your sides. Make sure you fully feel the stretch in your triceps, and lock out at the bottom and flex at the end of every rep. As you did previously, you'll drop down to 5 reps to muscle failure on your last set, then reduce the weight by 50% and keep crunching out the reps.
Cable hammer curl
You'll use the same cable stack with these that you just used for the push-downs, transitioning seamlessly between exercises. With these, it's crucial that you control the weight rather than it controlling you. Once again, you'll do 5 reps in the third set, then drop the weight and keep crunching out reps. Leave it all in the floor in this set.
Single-arm dumbbell preacher curl
It's time to isolate the biceps with one of my favorite exercises—the single-arm dumbbell preacher curl. By now, you should have the 15, 10, 5 rep scheme down. After your final set of 5 reps, follow up with 2-3 negative reps, using your free hand to help the weight up and fully control the negative portion of the rep. If this is your first time implementing negatives as a training technique, there's one thing you've got to know: The negative portion of the rep is just as important as the positive portion. In fact, studies have shown that the negative portion causes more damage to the muscle fibers, which is exactly what we're trying to do.
Single-arm cross-body cable curl
It's time to shift the focus of this arm workout to the upper portion of your biceps, right where they insert into the shoulder. To hit this target area, do a single-arm cross-body cable curl. I like to grab the cable itself for these, rather than use a handle.
During all three sets, keep your arm as close to your body as you can, bringing the cable across your body. Think about pulling your fist toward your ear and squeezing the top of your biceps on every single rep. Keep solid posture throughout; don't twist your body, and keep your shoulders parallel and your core engaged the entire time.
Cross-body cable triceps extension
This is the last triceps exercise, so go hard and focus on squeezing at the bottom of the movement. I grab the cable itself again to help me keep my arm close to my body and milk this movement for all it's worth. As with the single-arm dumbbell preacher curl, this movement will have you following up your final set of 5 reps with 2-3 negatives. Use your free hand to help aid the positive portion of the movement, then fight against the dropping of the weight as hard as you can so that it's one smooth, controlled movement.
Alternating dumbbell curl
For the grand finale, you're going to run the rack. This is absolutely brutal, but it's the very last exercise, so make sure you finish strong. Don't be afraid to start heavy! As soon as you fail, drop down to the next set of dumbbells. Go to failure again, reach for a set of weights that are 10 pounds lighter, and repeat until you've run the rack. Rep it out, bring maximum intensity, and leave it all on the line here. When you're done, you'll have the best arm pump of your life.
- Roig, M., O'Brien, K., Kirk, G., Murray, R., McKinnon, P., Shadgan, B., & Reid, D. W. (2008). The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(8). 556-568.