I don’t train my arms nearly as much as I used to. Back in my early training I had arm day in my routine. It was a day of set after set of curls, dips, skull crushers, hammer curls, you name it. Today I look at my arm workouts as secondary work to my main bench, squat or deadlift days. Once every week or two 3 sets for my biceps, and 3 for my triceps is all I do and I find it more than enough. That said training arms is fun, and just because I no longer agree with doing endless sets for working the arms doesn’t mean I don’t believe in putting some serious intensity into the training. One of the biggest problems I have found is finding ways to change things up. Here are a couple of ways I found to make arm days extra challenging and fun. While keeping the workout short
Super set biceps and triceps.
Most people who train regularly know about super-setting. This just involves combining two exercises into one long set. This can be done with the same muscle group, like super setting back rows with chin ups for your back. Or separate muscles like for you biceps and triceps.
The thing I find about doing this for the arms is that you get an unbelievable “pump” that happens. The idea is to keep the blood pumping into the same area, in this case your arms. Something not achieved with say doing supersets with your quads and delts and blood going to both your legs and shoulders. Give it a try, and be creative on the exercises. Try combining skull crushers with hammer curls. Or preacher curls with pressdowns. One of my favorite is to load a EZ bar up, do a set of basic bicep curls, then immediately clean the weight over my head and do some behind the neck triceps extensions. Vary this by one day starting with biceps and the next triceps.
21 curls were always one of my favorite. If you have not heard of these here is how they work. Take a weight that is a about 70-80% of what you would normally use for a 10-12 rep set. Bring the weight up to your shoulders as the starting positions as if you have just finished a curl movement. Now lower the weight in the eccentric (downward motion) but stop as your arms reach 90 degrees. Bring the weight back up to the starting position and repeat for 7 reps. This is just like doing curls but you are only doing the top half movement. When you reach 7 reps lower the weight all the way down and repeat 7 reps but this time doing the same thing with the bottom half of the movement. This means you are extending your arms fully and curling the weight up only to a 90 degree bend the in elbow.
At this point you may have found the first 7 reps easy but by the end of these 7 you will feel a little bit like you just lit a fire on your biceps. Now after you finish those 7 comes the fun part, finish with 7 full motion reps nice and controlled just as you would normally do a bicep curl. You should only need 3 sets of this to have your biceps pumped and screaming. Again try some variations, my favorite is this with a EZ bar, but try hammer curls with a rope and cable, or for a real challenge and stretch, dumbbells on a slight incline. I also sometimes like preacher curls with this method.