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Arm-Building Secrets of the Pros

Disclaimer: I intentionally misled you with the title to get your attention. There really are no “secrets” of the pros when it comes to arm training. After discussing the subject at length with a few hundred professional and top amateur bodybuilders over the past 23 years, I can state that with confidence. Yet they do have valuable tips and techniques that the general bodybuilding population can experiment with and implement in our own quests for big guns.

Brace yourself. Six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates did not have fantastic biceps when he turned pro, yet by the time he was ruling the sport a few years later, they were anything but weak. That led the Shadow to unlock his biceps growth by focusing on curling movements where the arm was braced, such as Nautilus curls and dumbbell concentration curls. Barbell curls, a staple that has delivered for millions, were dropped once Dorian figured out that his massive shoulders typically took over. When he took his delts out of the equation, he started to see significant improvements in his biceps.

Hit ’em twice a week. Branch Warren was not gifted with great arms, period. That’s likely because he got in line three times when they were handing out genetics for legs and missed out on arms. What proved to be an effective tactic was to work arms twice a week but with different workouts. One arm workout featured heavy weights and straight sets, while the other was all about supersets and drop sets, the main goal being to achieve the tightest and most swollen pump possible.

Little weights for big bi’s. Ed Nunn has some of the best biceps in pro bodybuilding today, easily 22 inches cold. How much does he curl? If you answered 185, 225 or were daring to guess 315 pounds, you’re way off base. Ed swears that the one exercise responsible is 21s done using an EZ-curl bar with 25 pounds on each side. Seven half reps from the bottom to midpoint, seven from midpoint to top and seven full reps delivers a sickening pump and soreness. With very heavy weights, loose form often robs the biceps of stimulation. 21s can be one way to make sure they get what they need, true time under tension.

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