Lifting weights in general and building huge arms in particular is pretty simple conceptually — lift hard, eat well, get plenty of rest and sleep, add weight to the bar next time out. Follow this process again and again, and over time you will build a nice physique and pretty big arms.
Sometimes, though, you want to break out of the rut of same-old, same-old and try something new.
When you need to add some zest to your training, try these 5 advanced arm training techniques for building your guns.
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Supersets consist of performing one exercise after another, with no rest in between. When it comes to arms, you have two basic approaches:
- Supersets for the same muscle group — barbell curls followed by dumbbell curls, or close-grip bench presses followed by lying triceps extensions, for example
- Supersets for antagonistic muscle groups — lying triceps extensions followed by barbell curls
Supersets can save you time since they eliminate the rest period between sets, but they can also really pump up your arms. Do a few cycles of extensions-curls with no rest, and your upper arms will feel like a couple of balloons shoved up your sleeves.
Usually, you want to perform full-range reps, but partials can help you zero in and feel your muscles working better. A good example of this in practice is the use of “21s.”
To use 21s, you divide an exercise into two portions, top half and bottom half, and then train them separately in the same set.
Using barbell curls as an example, you would start out doing seven reps in the bottom half — moving the bar from your thighs to a point where your forearms are not quite perpendicular to your upper arms. Then, do seven reps in the top half and, finally, do seven full range reps.
That’s 7+7+7, or 21, reps, which gives the method it’s name. You’ll have to reduce your normal working weight a bit, but be prepared for some burning and pumping.
The negative, or eccentric, portion of each rep causes more muscle damage and soreness than the positive, or lifting portion. This can be dangerous, but it’s also great for growth, and you can hone in on this with negative-only, or NO, training.
Chins are a great exercise for whacking your biceps with NO. Here’s how:
- Climb up on a chair or bench under a chinning bar.
- Use your legs to push your self into the fully contracted position, with your chin over the bar.
- Lower yourself slowly — take 10 seconds or more — using the power of your biceps to resist your descent.
- Climb back up and do another rep.
- Terminate the set when you can no longer lower yourself slowly.
Rest-pause is a great method for overloading your muscles with heavier weights than you would normally use.
To employ rest-pause using curls as an example, make sure you warm up thoroughly, and then pick a weight that will let you get 6-10 reps in good form.
Perform a set to failure, then rest about 30 seconds while taking in several big breaths. Grab the bar and rep out again.
Repeat the rest period, then crank out one more mini set.
In less than a couple of minutes, you will have nailed your biceps for big reps using big weight.
Normally, arm training should be after larger body parts. Sometimes, though, they need a little special treatment in order to jolt them into new growth. When you find your guns in this situation, you can either move them to the beginning of your normal workouts, give them their own workout on a separate day, or crank back the volume on other body parts and crank UP the volume for arms.
Any of these methods can help you grow your arms faster, but you should only use these techniques for a short period and you should not repeat them very often. They’re very intense and can lead to overtraining or injury if you abuse them.
As with any exercise, check with your doctor before you start using any of these methods to make sure you’re healthy enough for the rigors to come.