Jessie's Curls: Hilgenberg's Arm-Blasting Workout

Learn how to carve killer arms for summer with these pro tips.

Jessie's Curls: Hilgenberg's Arm-Blasting Workout
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With summer right around the corner and the weather heating up, sleeveless shirts and sundresses will soon be all the rage. While you're likely ready for longer days ahead, you might feel hesitatant to don your summer threads—especially those of the arm-bearing variety.

Not to worry—there's still time to turn flab to fab. With the right workout plan, your arms can be in top shape in no time. They'll get stronger, more defined, and epitomize that "fit look" that'll make you proud to wear any outfit you pull from your closet.

NLA athlete Jessie Hilgenberg is a pro at maintaining "mommy arms" strong enough to press a dumbbell and carry around her five-month old daughter. She's here to share her favorite arm-and-shoulder workout for getting sleeveless-shirt-ready this summer.

Follow her plan, and you'll see results in no time.

Arnold Press


Focus on the Three C's

"Consistency, compound movements, and calories are critical to success," says Hilgenberg.

When it comes to making gains, you need to make sure you're hitting each muscle group in a consistent manner. "You can't just group all arm movements into one workout per week and expect to gain muscle," she says. "You need to make sure your shoulders, biceps, and triceps receive enough volume each week—and without too much rest in between."

Hilgenberg designed the workout below to include at least two exercises per muscle group. Her inclusion of compound exercises means you'll hit more than one muscle at a time, increasing the overall volume.

Eating nutritious foods, and plenty of them, is also essential. "Remember, you need to eat enough calories to fuel your workouts—muscles need fuel to grow!" Hilgenberg states. If you're not providing a surplus of fuel over and beyond your maintenance needs, you can't build more lean muscle mass. Aim for 200-500 calories over and above maintenance, depending on your desired rate of weight gain.


Change it up so You Don't Stagnate

"I like to make sure I'm switching up my set and rep schemes so that my arms get a lot of action through strength, size, and conditioning-style training," Hilgenberg explains. This variety helps her stay on her toes and keeps her body guessing.

Hilgenberg's workout includes battle-rope training along with more conventional strength-building moves to add that element of conditioning. If you ever find that you're getting mentally bored with your workouts, it's a sure-fire sign that your body will be physically bored as well. This means it's time to change things up!


Train Your Arms More Often. They Can Take It.

If you really want to gain strength and size on your arms, you'll need to hit them more than once per week. "Try to incorporate biceps and triceps into other workouts throughout the week so that you are indirectly training them more than once for added volume," Hilgenberg says. "A good example of this would be to have the full arm day where you directly train biceps but also indirectly incorporate a lot of biceps training into your back day later that week." Hilgenberg recommends using a reverse (underhand) grip on several back exercises—including lat pull-downs, pull-ups, and rows—to engage your biceps even more.

As you bump up the frequency, still allow for at least one day off between sessions. This rest promotes recovery, which will maximize results. If you train too frequently without sufficient rest, you'll just dig yourself into a hole of overtraining and notice yourself growing weaker rather than stronger.

"Jessie recommends using reverse (underhand) grip on several back exercises—including lat pull-downs, pull-ups, and rows—to engage your biceps even more."

Finish With a Burnout Exercise

As an alternate option to finishing with a conditioning exercise, finish with a burnout exercise. "I always like ending a shoulder workout with a burnout session of lateral flyes," she explains. If you've already smashed your delts earlier in the week, think about training biceps. For Hilgenberg, barbell biceps curls are the go-to that make her biceps and front delts really pop.

If she's looking to incorporate a little additional shoulder work, the 45-degree barbell landmine press is her favorite, since it targets the entire shoulder region, giving it a great shoulder pump! Switching up your burnout exercises drives home the point that plenty of variety is important and that each exercise offers its own unique benefits. A good mix of different movements ensures that you're getting the best of all worlds.

Single-arm leaning lateral raise

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The Workout

Now that you've read her tips, it's time to hit the weight room and build your arms with this Jessie Hilgenberg favorite!

Jessie's Arms Workout

Arnold press

2 warm-up sets of 10 reps, 3 working sets of 10-12 reps
Arnold press Arnold press


Parallel bar dip

2 warm-up sets of 10 reps, 3 working sets of 10-12 reps
Parallel bar dip Parallel bar dip


Lying barbell skullcrusher

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Lying barbell skullcrusher Lying barbell skullcrusher


Smith machine shoulder press

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Smith machine shoulder press Smith machine shoulder press


Spider curls

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Spider curls Spider curls


Single-arm leaning lateral raise

4 sets of 12-15 reps per arm
Single-arm leaning lateral raise Single-arm leaning lateral raise


Battle ropes (double)

3 sets of 30 sec. each
Battle ropes (double) Battle ropes (double)

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