Written by Jason Rickaby - PhD Nutrition Founder
Everyone wants big arms. There, I’ve said it, the cat is out of the bag.
I can’t think of many guys or girls who enter the weights room and don’t want their arms to look great in a short-sleeved t-shirt. The truth is, to grow your arms into the sleeve-splitting specimens you want, you are going to need to pay your dues in the gym on the big, painful lifts and do so for many years, because big arms usually along with being able to shift some decent weight on the bench press, pull up, deadlift and squat.
That said, I’m going to accept that if you are reading this and using PhD Nutrition products, you understand that building a physique is a journey, not necessarily a destination. I’m going to accept that you are always looking to go one step further, be a little better and improve steadily, consistently and constantly. So, once you are:
- Fuelling yourself with great nutrition from solid food sources
- Supplementing your diet with great sports nutrition
- Committed to working hard
We can start talking about how we can get in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes and start training arms effectively in order to bust through plateaus and kick start growth:
A few simple requirements and tips to follow when approaching training arms:
1- Focus on the arm as a complete muscle group and work the angles:
Sounds daft as it’s effectively split over biceps, triceps and forearms, but certain exercises and angles hit varying parts of each muscle group- so use every option you can to target the complete area, don’t just think standing curls and tricep pushdowns are going to be enough to drive your arms into new growth. For example, using a decline bench and maintaining an elbow position close to the body tends to target the lateral head of the tricep in the top position and the medial head as the press is at the bottom position. Whereas in the lying (flat) position, the long head of the tricep tends to do much of the work supported by the lateral head. Similarly, when training biceps, certain studies have shown that whilst it may seem lazy to some older lifters, the seated position for curls involves greater elbow flexion so placing more emphasis on the bicep muscle, rather that standing. Meaning greater bicep activation and overload on the target muscle group.
2- Focus on progressive overload:
Again, a simple one, but you’d be surprised how many lifters forget or ignore previous load lifted. Keep a workout diary and jot down the previous sessions achievements. I kept a workout diary of sorts for each week of my training life since I was 18. Don’t waste your time by repeating loads and not progressing.
3- Focus on arms:
If you want to develop a muscle group, you’ll generally need to focus harder on it and back off a little elsewhere. Train arms twice weekly if you want to focus on them.
Here’s the workout and rationale of why and how:
Tempo is shown as 3-0-1 for e.g. This simply means 3 seconds to lower the weight, no pause and 1 second to lift.
Alternate sets: Try really hard to set up your exercises so you can work in an alternate fashion between biceps and triceps. I show these as A1 and A2, B1 and B2 etc. This means I perform a set of A1, rest for the allotted time and then perform a set of A2, rest again and return to A1 until all sets are complete.
A1- Close grip decline bench press: 8 reps, 3-0-1.
A2- Curl grip pull up: max reps, 4-0-1.
Rest 60 seconds between each set.
Perform 3 sets of each
B1- Lying EZ bar skull crushers: 10 reps, 4-0-1
B2- Seated Incline dumbbell curls: 10 reps, 3-0-1.
Rest 30 seconds between each set.
Perform 3 sets of each.
C1- Rope cable tricep pushdowns: 15 reps, 3-0-1.
C2- Reverse EZ bar curls: 10 reps, 3-0-1.
No rest between each set.
Perform 3 sets of each.
This workout is focussing on a number of key areas for arm growth:
Decline close grip bench press allows you to shift some weight and curl grip pull ups lock you into body weight at worst. If you can only do 3-4 reps, that’s fine- but keep that negative portion of the rep to 4 seconds and feel the biceps working.
2- Angles and variety:
Seated, standing, lying, decline and body weight exercises. All designed to work the arms through a multitude of angles and loads.
3- A serious and complete work out:
No cables in this workout guys, only body weight and iron. Focus on getting stronger in each lift and stick to the rest parameters. By the end of the workout, you will have performed 18 sets for arms and ensured you hit each head of the triceps, work the biceps with bodyweight and efficiency and finally (with the last two exercises) worked in a manner that leaves the arms fully pumped and straining at the seams.
Now go and grow!!
Arms destroyed, now you need to grow. Make best use of your vital post workout period by consuming a high protein drink within 15 minutes of completion. Begin maximising the anabolic window and grow some serious arms. PhD recommend Synergy iso-7 for complete post workout muscle repair and growth after intense training.