There Are Giants At The Gym: ARMS

Arms... Guns… Pythons… Isn’t that the first muscle everyone notices? “Hey, let’s see your muscles.” We don’t flex our thighs, do we? No, we pull up our sleeves and give them that good old-fashioned gun show we’ve been working on. We want triceps that look like horseshoes and biceps that peak like mountains – Powerful manly arms. The kind the girls (and guys) swoon over and can rip trees out of the ground (sorry, this is a little biased). This is my dream, anyhow, and they are such a satisfying body part to intensely work.

Though we have a tendency to think of giant, bulging biceps when we think of strong arms, the fact of the matter is the triceps are the larger, more complex muscle group. The biceps have two heads, where the triceps have three. Ideally, proportioned arms are usually one-third biceps and two-thirds triceps, so having large triceps can actually give the appearance of having massive arms!

Everybody is different, but working out too long is a waste of your time. Working out five hours instead of one will not make your arms 5x as big and in fact you might not make any progress at all because you are overtraining. The harder you work out, the shorter your workout needs to be. When you are doing intense workouts with heavy weights you deplete your mental and physical reserves of energy. Working out more than 60 minutes can be counter-productive; Once in the weight room you need to stay focused. Look at the clock when you start your first rep and make a mental note of when you need to leave. Wear your iPod, keep your head down and stay focused and you can get a great workout in a short amount of time.

Stretching for biceps/triceps is pretty much the same story as it is for chest (see There Are Giants at the Gym: CHEST). Get the blood flowing through your entire body by doing a quick 5 minute jog on a piece of cardio equipment. Then get started on your warm up; I’ll usually do between 2-3 light warm-up sets before I begin counting my 5 working sets. After the warm-up sets I do a few light behind-the-head triceps stretches and hang from the pull-up bar for a minute or so.

To each his own, but I lean towards using free weights. As I mentioned last month, free weights allow your joints and limbs to move in their natural planes, not just along paths imposed by the machine. When training arms, fatiguing the muscles from all kinds of different angles will get the best results. With machines you are very limited to various angles to work.

If your intent and purpose of working those arms is for mass, I recommend heavy barbell curls – muscle size comes from lifting heavy weights. For separation and definition, I’d say high sets, supersets/tri-sets. Try using as many different exercises and angles as possible, shock the muscle into grow

The following is a routine that I have used this past two months in preparation for my upcoming contest…taken directly from the man himself; Arnold.


Standing Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 15, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Lying French Presses – 5 sets of 15, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps


Alternate Dumbell Curls – sets of 8 reps

Triceps Cable Pushdowns – 5 sets of 8 reps


Concentration Curls – 5 sets of 8 reps

One-Arm Tricep Extensions – 5 sets of 12 reps

The previous workout I listed has worked the best for me. One reason I have seen so much muscle growth and development from this workout is the amount of intensity required. If your workouts just have you “going through the motions”, you are lacking the required intensity to see results. There are a lot of reps and sets involved. If you’re not getting down to business with this workout, you’re going to be in the gym for what seems like an eternity. Get in, get it done and get on to something else!

I wouldn’t’ say anything changes in my diet for “arm day.” Every day is a “workout day” and it should be treated as such. Once you create a healthy lifestyle, you live it. It becomes a routine. A great workout doesn’t begin on the floors of your gym. No, it starts in your kitchen.I recommend eating a solid meal two to four hours before a workout. Any closer to your workout and you may suffer indigestion and other problems. Ideally I aim for around 40 grams of complex carbs derived from whole grains – like oatmeal. I also limit the fat, as fat slows the digestion process. Complex carbs help overload your muscles with glycogen, which provides those short bursts of energy you need during your weight-training.

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