When T-shirt weather rolls around, you just gotta have eye-popping arms—you know, the kind of sleeve-stretching size that looks like you have 20-pound hams hanging by your sides. You no doubt already train your biceps till you can't brush your teeth (yes, soreness can affect hygiene).
But there's more to gargantuan guns than training bi's and tri's. Sometimes there's a less-obvious mass jack that can turn molehills into mountains. Take advantage of that, and your arms will grow to immense proportions.
What the h*ll are we talking about? Building your brachialis muscles to crank up your arms' visual impact—and it takes only a few extra minutes after your biceps routine!
The muscle that snakes underneath your biceps, that appears as a knotty mass between the bi's and tri's, is the brachialis. It looks deceptively small, but you only see a small segment of it. The entire muscle is much larger than what you see, and the bigger you build it, the more it can push the biceps skyward, giving you bigger, thicker arms.
You may have heard of it because Arnold was a big proponent of training the brachialis for extra arm mass. If you want your arms to take on new dimensions fast, you gotta build this muscle!
When you plump up and pump up your brachialis muscles, you'll quickly get a more gnarly, jagged peak to your biceps. If you train your biceps with four to five sets, as we prescribe in our X-Rep e-books, and follow with a quick brachialis attack, people's eyes will get as big as silver-dollar pancakes every time you flex.
The technique we're about to describe helped Jonathan get his arms freaky big, as his arm-measurement photo shows...
How To Do It
Here's how to do it: First, you home in on the brachs with smart-bomb precision. The best exercise, according to MRI studies, is the Incline Hammer Curl. Why? Because lying back on an incline bench with your arms extended and angling back behind your torso and your thumbs facing forward puts the brachialis in an elongated state.
We've discussed in previous articles that stretch-position exercises trigger extreme anabolic responses in muscle tissue, can trigger the myotatic reflex for excess fiber activation and also may be the emergency stimulus that splits muscle fibers (hyperplasia).
One study produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase in a bird's wing muscle with stretch overload—in only one month! (That's triple-sizing the muscle in 30 days!) After muscle-biopsy analysis, the researchers believe a lot of that mass was due to hyperplasia.
But building mass fast takes more than just working a muscle in its stretched position—and that goes for smaller ones like the brachialis too: You want capillary bed expansion, via some endurance-component stress as well—primarily in the fast-twitch 2As. Here's how you can get it all in one double drop-set, or D-bomb—about three minutes of work—for new jaw-dropping arm size:
Phase 1: Use dumbbells that allow you to get eight tough reps on incline thumbs-up hammer curls. Keep them moving in a piston like fashion—no rest at the top or bottom—a cadence of about 1.5 seconds up and 1.5 seconds down. Remember, no pauses.
Keep tension on the brachialis muscles throughout the set, and at nervous system exhaustion, when you can't do another full rep, do X Rep pulses from just out of the full stretch position at the bottom, pulling each one up about six inches. Those short blasts extend the tension time and enhance fiber recruitment exponentially.
If you can't pulse, do a static contraction down low. In other words, hold the weight steady—at that max-force point, elbows slightly bent just before the straight-arm position—till you can't stand the burn.
Phase 2: Immediately rack those dumbbells and grab two more that are about 10 pounds lighter. Jump back on the bench and crank out four to six more reps—as many as you can do—no X-Reps this time.
Phase 3: Immediately rack those dumbbells and grab two more that are another 10 to 15 pounds lighter—this time use the Double-X Overload (DXO) technique—after each full rep, do an X-Rep partial near the bottom of the stroke.
If you can't stand using such light dumbbells or your front delts burn too much on this last phase, you can substitute barbell, dumbbell or cable reverse curls in DXO style—not as much stretch, but you can still get plenty of continuous tension by reversing the movement at the bottom before fully extending your arms.
Reverse Cable Curl
Your arms will be pumped to immense proportions, especially if you do this sequence right after your biceps program!
It drives even more blood to the area, gives you stretched-position overload and intense anaerobic stress (lower reps) while still developing the endurance components of the fast-twitch muscle fibers (the mitochondria and capillaries)—and it won't add even five minutes to your gym time.
Those three to four extra minutes will be well worth the time and effort. (Wait till you see the skin-stretching pump it produces!)
Try it. Tack it on to your biceps routine, and you'll soon be getting wide-eyed looks every time you head out in a T-shirt. This very targeted brachialis sequence helped Jonathan push his arms passed the 19-inch barrier—no drugs, no trick photography.
Your arms have more potential for extreme impressiveness than you think! Hit the brachs, and prepare for stares as your guns morph into cannons.