Science of Arm Training

If your arms haven’t grown since you thought baseball was drug-free, then it’s time to make a change to your workouts. And I’m going to show you how to use efficient and effective exercises in a scientifically-designed plan that will add more size to your arms a week at BALCO labs.

Unlike the average gym member, the lifter that gets results trains with a plan (even on arm day). While my sets and reps scheme might be “out in left field” compared to what you are doing now, believe me, it’s guaranteed to improve on most arm training programs. But if you insist on playing in the 10-15 rep range for every exercise then you are bound to plateau and have minor-league arms. Research shows that a wide range of repetitions (from 3 reps per set to 12 reps per set) can lead to big-time gains in muscle size.

Using low reps and heavy weights for your arm exercises might go against the grain, but the following outline will work for arms and all other body parts. But for now, this is all you need to know.

In the first exercise of this workout, you’ll do 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight (that allows you to complete all reps according to the guidelines below). The goal is to build absolute (“maximal”) strength and muscle mass (obviously). Increasing your absolute strength will help you lift more weight in all exercises. And if you can lift more weight, then you can train the muscles harder. In response, the muscle will get bigger to keep up to the demands of the heavy weights.

In the second exercise of the workout, you’ll use 4 sets of 8 reps. It just might be the optimal combination of intensity and volume for muscle growth and will work extremely well for lifters that have been stalled on higher rep sets.

In the third and final exercise of the workout for the arms, you’ll do 3 sets of 12 reps to add more volume to the workout and to fatigue the muscle and deplete muscle glycogen (glycogen is the name for carbohydrate stored in the muscles). High-volume training and fatigue cause the muscles to “stock up” on carbohydrate stores in preparation for the next training session. And when your muscles stock up on glycogen, they get bigger and future training sessions can be more intense. At the end of the 6 week program you’ll be blasting through these workouts with more intensity and strength than you’ve had in months.

One the trademarks of my strength-training programs, as you will see in the months to come, is to use supersets as often as possible (although there will be exceptions to the rule). With supersets, we pair two non-competing exercises together to get more work done in less time, without sacrificing strength or mass. Muscle size is not associated with how long you spend in the gym. The training goal is to get in, work hard, get out, pound a post-workout shake, get home, eat and grow.

Another way to increase the effectiveness of the training program is to focus on the tempo of the exercise. Tempo just means the speed of the exercise. For example and for our purposes, a 3-1-1 tempo means you’ll take 3 seconds to lower the weight, then you’ll pause for 1 second, and then you’ll lift the weight back up in 1 second. A slow eccentric (lowering) tempo and a fast concentric (lifting) tempo will work your Type II muscle fibers the hardest – these are fibers that have the greatest potential for muscle growth. So you’ll get your best strength and mass gains by using that general tempo arrangement.

You may have gone through a tempo phase in the past for a couple of weeks and then due to human nature you probably got lazy and forgot about using it. But for the next 6 arm workouts, I want you to stick to the prescribed tempo. You’ll see and feel the benefits after the first workout.

Now all that remains is to choose the best exercises for building big arms. With the help of scientific research, experience, and some recommendations from Charles Poliquin, I’ve put together some of the most efficient and effective arm exercises for mass and strength.