Q: I’m following your current split [at the X-Training Blog]. So far, so good, but I’d really like another arm workout. My arms lag, and hitting them with only one direct workout a week just doesn’t seem like enough. What can I do?
A: Before I answer your question, let’s outline the training split that you’re referring to.
Monday: Chest, back, abs
Wednesday: Delts, arms
Friday: Chest, back, abs (begin this workout with deadlifts for a testosterone surge and residual leg work)
You’re getting a lot of arm work three days a week—a direct hit on Wednesday and then indirect work on Monday and Friday, when you work chest and back with dips, pulldowns, rows and presses.
To get more arm work without overtraining, the solution is a mini arm workout on Saturday. Head to the gym and do only a couple of isolation exercises for triceps and biceps (heck, train calves while you’re there too). I suggest using 4X mass training so you keep cortisol low and push a lot of blood through your arms with moderate poundages and 30-second rests between sets. Here’s an example:
Lying dumbbell extensions 4 x 10
One-arm pushdowns 4 x 12
Dumbbell preacher curls 4 x 10
One-arm cable curls 4 x 12
That’s one free-weight exercise and one cable move for each upper-arm muscle—so fiber trauma should not be excessive. Again, to perform 4X training, pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but only do 10 (or 12). Rest 30 to 40 seconds, and then do it again—and so on until you complete four sets. If you get the designated rep count on your last set, add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
If you don’t feel like going to the gym, you can always train arms at home. The bi’s and tri’s are small muscles, so you don’t need a lot of weight. If you have dumbbells, try lying extensions, kickbacks, curls and concentration curls. (Incidentally, I think every bodybuilder should have a selectorized dumbbell set, like PowerBlocks, and an adjustable bench at home—great for workouts in a pinch.)
If you don’t have dumbbells and don’t have the funds to buy any, try band training. You can get a set of three Body Bands for only $19.95, and you can get an incredible, unique workout with them. With a little ingenuity, you can do most of the exercises mentioned above. You can even loop one of the bands over your neck and do triceps pushdowns or under your feet for curls.
Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, visit www.Home-Gym.com. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM