The following article was written by DrX from GH15
Let’s talk about arms, outside of back, it is my favorite body part to train. Over the years with as many training partners as I have had the one thing they have ALL remained loyal to is the approach to arm training that I will share with you today. Why, it has brought on the best results for just about everyone who has tried this style. This I promise, it will make a difference in size and thickness if followed correctly. But this style is not easy to master and is very painful. It is all about technique not WEIGHT. So put down the synthol bottles, site injection tools, and the cattle prods. You will not longer need them. Just a good ole fashion arm ass whopping is in store for you today.
I have experimented with just about very combination and training style over the years and the one true constant that has brought about the best results for arms is both super-setting biceps and triceps WITH the all important Piston style of stroke. This works extremely well for two reasons. 1) Helps isolate the blood volume in one given area. This will allow for a deeper full stretch and concise mind to muscle connection. 2) This will in turn also place a very specific and precise load on the target muscle. Think of it like dummy bombs vs smart bombs. Dropping dummy bombs is a very inefficient method, as their explosiveness is spread over a wide area, where as a smart bomb which is smaller and lighter will strike a specific target with ALL the forces focused on a specific spot for the most damage (no collateral damage).
So, let’s begin.
The first two exercises to be performed are standing dumbbell curls super-setted with standing straight LONG bar triceps cable push-downs. But before we begin, technique must be addressed. How to actually curl the dumbbells. This is where one of the MAJOR changes will occur in your understanding of biceps. I DO NOT want under any circumstances the dumbbells to supinate. This is the key, that goes against everything you have seen or have learned. I want the stress and loads to be constant. Supination causes the dissipation of that said load up the arms allowing you to move more weight (dumb bomb). What you will do is this. Stand in front of a mirror and first grip both your dumbbells HARD and let them hang or float at the OUTSIDE of your hips. I do not want them to relax or sit on your hips. The palms of your wrists ALWAYS facing the mirror and the inside of the dumbbells not touching your body. YOU DO NOT GET TO ROTATE your palms and relax them by facing your thighs ever. So begin the curl one dumbbell at a time while the other is facing STRAIGHT forward. Do not let it turn in. Lower the arm all the ways down with palms continuing on a horizontal path to the floor. Once floating and facing forward then begin curling the second arm to a top point you can squeeze the muscle. The other arm, remember, is facing forward. So there is a constant static force on the arm that is not being curled. Our goal is 12 perfects reps….Practice the movement in front of the mirror first with no dumbbells to get a feel for the new stroke. Once ready you do not stop and rest and any point. You go to complete failure. What you will notice is the immediate load placed on the hanging arm. Even though it may be resting as your curling the other arm it is actually in contraction. This increases time under tension exponentially.
As you curl the dumbbells up, in order to ensure the front delts aren’t taking over, keep your chest and head high, and this time contrary to other advise on this exercise I will allow the elbows to travel forward just a bit as your contract the bicep. The emphasis on the biceps will be even greater.
Now rest for 5 seconds or so and move straight to triceps push-downs. I would prefer you to use the long straight bar that is utilized for back pull downs for this one, not the short straight one. Now where and how to grip the bar. Use a thumbs OVER grip and the distance is where when you can contract the triceps muscle, with your thumbs barely touch the outside of your thighs at the bottom. So I want you standing closer to the apparatus. Strokes are constant piston like all the way up and down to a brief contraction. No partial ego based reps in this house. Again 12 perfects reps performed to FAILURE! Give yourself 5 to 10 seconds and then back to standing dumbbell curls.
To summarize the first two, alternate both with minimal rest 3 sets each to failure. You will at this point understand what pain is. And we have not even began!!!
On to the next exercise. This time you will super-set standing straight barbell curls with one arm cable push downs. If you are having issues with your wrists and elbows, you may use the french bar curl instead of the straight bar. I am not going into detail with the straight bar curls, but keep it light enough where there is NO body English, or momentum based reps. Chest and head remains up and squeeze the biceps at the top. Again piston style with no stopping at any point during the set especially at the bottom. So pick a weight light enough to get 12 perfect straight reps.
Now to a very interesting version of the one arm cable push-down. The reason for this in particular is the DEEP contraction it gives if done correctly and since it is one arm at a time, it will allow you to work on the imbalances. On all cable pushdowns their will be a rubber ball right above the attachment clip. That is what you want. Take a small towel and place it over the ball for increased surface hand area. The small towel is critical. The increased surface area will recruit more of the nervous system for a deeper contraction. Grip the towel OVER the ball and squeeze it tight. Then begin the set of push downs, one arm at a time. No need for any attachment just that rubber ball over the clips. Stand slightly to the side of the cable and move the arms down to your hips in a straight line and to the outside of your hips again. But this time at the bottom contraction your knuckles will be facing the floor. Then switch arms. You will notice the imbalances and control issues with one dominant arm over the other. I could not find any picture on the net to help me with this movement. So I will use the pictures below just so that you can see the black rubber ball right above the attachment clip. A member at my gym was kind enough to let me take me take a quick picture to demonstration the towel and arm positioning.
Again 3 sets to failure, minimal rest, back and forth. Now the pump is mind-blowing. You can’t even take the head phones off your noggin to wipe your face.
The third set of sequence exercises is one arm dumbbell curl on the preacher bench, super-setted with your choice of any triceps exercise you like. Again on this arm movement, keep the wrist PERFECTLY flat and or horizontal to the floor. All the way down and up, no stopping or pausing. 12 reps to failure for each arm. Then off to your own personal favorite triceps exercise. Just make sure its done clean and in Piston style. 3 sets to failure back and forth.
Finally the last sequence. We are now in the stretch positions. This will hurt. By this point your arms are completely saturated with blood and fluid. The perfect opportunity to really physically stretch the biceps the old fashion way. You will need an incline barbell bench for this. The angle on these benches are ideal. Back to alternate dumbbell curls but done on the seated incline barbell bench. The key is your head positioning. I will need your head to ALWAYS lay against the padding with the arms hanging straight down. Reminder, the head never comes off the pads. Palms facing forward just like in the first exercise, never and I mean NEVER turn your writs in to relax the arm, the resting arm still always faces forward. But this time your will notice extreme stretching forces that occurs up the biceps. Yes it is painful. Get used to it, you can do both arms together, but I prefer you to do one at a time just like the standing version.
Follow this up with standing over the head triceps extensions. Any variation is possible. Seated with one dumbbell, standing or even on an incline bench. Make sure the elbows are up and you get that deep stretch when it comes down behind the head.
Couple of end notes for arms if they are your priority. Finding that ideal weight for each exercise will take a couple of weeks. Lower the weights you normally are accustomed for those 12 clean reps to failure. Because arms are involved in just about every upper-body exercise to one degree or another take the following day off. Train both back and chest the days PRIOR to arms. Keep arms to their own day.
- 3 sets standing DB curl superset with standing long bar cable push downs
- 3 sets standing straight barbell curls superset with one arm cable push downs
- 3 sets one arm DB preacher curls superset with 1 tricep exercise of your choice