21 Arm Routines - Part 2

The greatest arms in bodybuilding were built by diligent men with incredible routines. Follow advice from heroes of the past and get arms worth flexing - Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

8 /
One Dumbbell?
No Problem!
With just a dumbbell and some ingenuity
you can build big arms.

Against your better judgment, you agreed to spend a long weekend up at your girlfriend's parents' cabin. Just you, her, her parents, Uncle Doug and Aunt Sue, their weird kids (all five of them), and their even weirder dog, and … no gym within 20 miles.

Wouldn't matter if there were one anyway, since you don't have a car. Yet here you are, feeling your muscles, and mind, wasting away with each new round of Pictionary. What to do?

But wait! What's that? Could it be? yes! On a trip to the shed to retrieve firewood you spy a familiar friend collecting cobwebs by the hand-powered lawnmower. Though rusty, it's form is unmistakable: a dumbbell!

You figure it to weigh in the neighborhood of 25 pounds and greedily snatch it up as you search for its mate. After a few minutes spent fumbling in the dark, you realize that your iron savior is flying solo.

Is it even possible to get an effective workout with just a single, fairly light dumbbell?

Suddenly, you remember having read this very article (did we mention this scenario takes place in the future?) and realize that, yes, you can get in a great arm workout in just about the amount of time you have before your girlfriend's cousin (the one who spits when he talks) comes looking for you.

One-Dumbbell Arm Blast

This is a giant cycle, performed three times. Start with your weaker arm, then pass the dumbbell off to the hand of your stronger arm, and then pass it back again for the next exercise. Don't stop until you complete three cycles with a rep scheme of 10 for the first set, 8 for the second, and 6 for the third.

Circuit: 3 Rounds

9 /
'Em Hard
Go Short For Long-Lasting Gains.

High-intensity training began gaining a foothold in bodybuilding's collective consciousness in the mid-1970s, when big-game hunter/firebrand/pilot/alligator-owner/self-proclaimed genius/nautilus machine-inventor Arthur Jones summoned the day's top bodybuilders to his Deland, Fla., offices to partake in his Spartan training sessions.

What is H.I.T.? Basically, it involves absolutely killing it for each and every rep of a very few sets, under the premise that if you truly go to (or beyond) failure for every set, you don't need to spend a half hour on a body part - more like five minutes just once per week.

Is H.I.T. right for you? Will you fall into the Mentzer or Schwarzenegger camp? the only way to find out is to give it a shot.

Try out the following H.I.T. arm workout, and after four weeks, decide for yourself whether you want to "hit" the rest of your body.

H.I.T. Arm Routine*



*Perform two light sets of 15-20 reps of machine preacher curls before H.I.T.ing biceps. Do two sets of the same for pressdowns before your triceps workout.

** After completing 6-8 reps, perform strip sets to total failure, then have a partner help you perform additional forced reps.

***After completing 6-8 reps, remove weight and dip to total failure, then do forced reps with a partner.

10 /
This biceps/triceps superset routine
is an efficient way to add size.

The biceps and triceps are ideal muscles to superset; they directly oppose each other; the biceps flex the elbow joint, while the triceps extend it.

While one works, the other rests, and vice versa, which allows you to cut work time in half while not sacrificing load or intensity.

The arm workout below consists of three superset pairings. The first duo hits the biceps and triceps with heavy weight and relatively low reps (6-8) on two barbell exercises to help spur muscle growth and strength; the second uses moderate weight and moderate reps (8-12) to fall in the hypertrophy sweet spot; and the third superset gets lighter with higher reps (12-15) and cable exercises - one being a hammer curl, which brings the forearms into play more - to finish the arms off with a great burn and a rush of blood.

Do this workout on its own or after training a larger area like chest, back or legs.

Superset Arm Routine

Superset 1:

Superset 2:

Superset 3:

11 /
Fill out your sleeves with this routine
from the most dangerous man in the world.

Since he's a combat-tested Army Green Beret sniper with a Bronze Star to his credit, Tim Kennedy could easily have served as our military representative for this 21-Gun Salute.

Hell, Kennedy's story is so incredible that we've featured him twice over the past two years. Since he also happens to be one of the top-ranked middleweight MMA fighters in the world, however, we're including him for an MMA-flavored approach to great guns. Either way, you can't argue with the man's physique-or his results in the cage.

One exercise of note is the Cuddyer Killer, which you won't find with a Google search (trust us, we tried).

"We got it from the football staff at the University of Texas," Kennedy says. "They do it with their wide receivers. Anchor your fingers down with your thumb, then just "flick boogers" as hard as you can with all five fingers at the same time. You can do it either for reps or for time."

Tim Kennedy's Arm Routine


Resume normal sets; reps:


*Perform as many sets as it takes to complete 100 reps.

12 /
King's Biceps
Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman kept it
simple - but intense

During his eight-year run of Mr. Olympia victories (1998-2005), Ronnie Coleman had unquestionably the best arms in the sport of bodybuilding.

They were huge, they were detailed, they were in proportion with the rest of his massive body parts, and they displayed such cartoonish features as the fully visible split between the long and short heads of his biceps.

Were his the best arms ever? If not, they're at least in the discussion. But if you're looking for some exotic, outside-the-box routine that King Coleman used to build such freaky biceps, you won't find it.

Throughout most of his career, he unapologetically did the same basic workouts over and over - your classic, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," approach.

Ronnie Coleman's Routine Biceps

*Not including a warmup set of 15-20 reps.

13 /
Three weeks to bowling-pin-size development.
By Jim Smith, C.S.C.S.

The forearms consist primarily of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which means they're built for endurance and respond best to duration activities, like carrying furniture and holding on for dear life.

Employing high volume and short rest periods will inflate your forearms fast.

The Ultimate Forearm Routine

Follow this program for three weeks. Perform the workout 2-to-3 times per week after training your other body parts. Allow at least a day to recover in between.

Complete the exercises as a circuit, doing a set of A, followed by a set of B, and so on, before resting. Repeat for three total circuits.

Week 1

Circuit: 3 Rounds

Rest 90 seconds and repeat.

Week 2

Circuit: 3 Rounds

Rest 90 seconds and repeat.

Week 3

Circuit: 3 Rounds

Rest 90 seconds and repeat.

14 /
A killer tri-set from Mountain Dog program
creator John Meadows.

John Meadows, the creator of the Mountain Dog training and diet system, is the vice president of a bank, a former powerlifter who trained at Westside, a highly successful bodybuilder, and one of the most sought-after training and nutrition consultants in the world


Meadows' workouts are best-known for his unique variations on traditional exercises for each body part, and this simple-yet-excruciating tri-set is a perfect example.

To perform it, just place a pair of fairly light dumbbells on the floor next to a high pulley attachment at your gym.

To get the full benefit of this tri-set, you'll need a pair of grips. For your triceps pushdowns, it makes no difference which attachment you use.

Just make sure to move through each rep in slow and controlled fashion. For your Grip curls, perform the concentric (upward) portion of the move, then lower the dumbbells with a three-second negative. Do five rounds, with 90 seconds between tri-sets.

John Meadows' Arm Routine

Tri-set Circuit: 5 Rounds

* Perform a three second negative.

** Perform at normal speed.

90-second rest. Repeat.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3