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Building Troubled Arms with the Perfect Mass-Building Split

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: I’ve always had trouble building arms, but I notice that on back day they pump up bigger than ever. I’m using the Perfect Mass-Building Split [Chapter 7 in the Pre-Ex 3X Mass Workout], but I’m thinking that maybe I should do arms with back because of the pump. Also, I’ve been using dumbbell pullovers as the first isolation exercise for lats in my pre-ex superset. You used stiff-arm pulldowns in the e-book, but I don’t feel those. Are DB pullovers okay for the iso move?

A: No, I don’t think you should train arms with back. Give the Perfect Mass-Building Split a chance to work. Remember, it’s a direct/indirect approach, so you do want that residual arm stimulation on back day. A big arm pump is a great indicator that you are expanding the sarcoplasm, the energy fluid in the fibers, with major mass gains to come.

As for your exercise choice, yes, dumbbell pullovers are an effective isolation move in a pre-ex superset. I assume you’re doing the pullovers and then going immediately to pulldowns, which brings in your fresh biceps to push your lats further into the growth zone. It’s a good lat combo that diffuses the weak link, the biceps—and those two exercises are precisely why your arms are blowing up big.

You’re getting biceps work on the pulldowns. That’s a given, but you’re also blasting your triceps. Most people don’t realize that pullovers activate the largest segment of the triceps, the long head. So you’re pumping up the beefy long head and then moving to pulldowns.

By supersetting pullovers with pulldowns, you’re indirectly working your bi’s and tri’s , resulting in eye-popping upper-arm size—as in full engorgement.

Add to that the fact that your lats and teres major, right under your arm, are pumping up to push out your triceps, and you can see why your pumped arms look even bigger. It’s like sticking a tennis ball in your armpit and smashing your triceps against it—your upper arm will look like a 20-pound ham—or a 15-pounder if you’re a small guy.

In fact, I often use dumbbell pullovers to finish off triceps on arm day as well—just one or two sets for long-head stretch.

One suggestion for back day: If your gym has a pullover machine, try it. That exercise gives you lat stretch and full contraction; dumbbell pullovers only provide stretch.

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, see the ad sections in this issue. Also visit  and for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books.  IM

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