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Alright, so we’ve hit everything. All the things. We’ve pushed, we’ve pulled, we’ve stretched, we’ve fueled and I’m sure we’ve griped about DOMS.
Well, correction — we’ve hit everything but arms.
Since I’ve become a gymrat, I’ve noticed a couple of common themes. Number 1: A lot of guys skip leg day. Number 2: Nobody skips arms day. In fact, I know a lot of guys that hit arms every day.
I mean, that’s cool and everything, but that’s also kind of … undisciplined? I get it, arms are fun to work out and they look great in a fitted t-shirt but ignoring your larger muscle groups in favor of your “beach muscles” is ill-advised at best. Arms day is necessary but one mustn’t forget the rest of their bodies, and by extension, their overall physique and overall fitness.
And that is precisely why I leave arms day for last. It’s a reward. If I stick with my program through the week, then when I hit the gym on the weekend, I can tear my sleeves off and get my pump on just in time for a weekend date night, arguably the most important reason to pump arms in the first place.
So let’s reward ourselves with an arm-blaster, shall we?
I don’t warm up on arms day. Not saying you can’t or shouldn’t, but I choose not to because the first workout in this program is a warm up in itself. It’s light weight, high rep and a bit of a burn so your arms will be warm and your hinges will be greased. Let’s jump right on!
Big-Ass Set: EZ Bar Curl(z)
5 sets; 20-30-40-30-20 reps; Rest as needed Primary: Biceps
Pur your ego aside for this first crazy set because you’re not going to load the bar with very much weight at all. If any bro comes in and smirks or comments on your light weight exercise, you can (politely) invite them to do it with you. They aren’t going to care much for it, I promise.
This is the only exercise in the entire series where I’m going to specify a weight. If for some reason this is too difficult, you can drop the weight.
You’ll start by loading the EZ-Curl bar with 20 pounds. Our bar weighs 10 so that means I’ll add a 5 to each side and perform a total of 20 full-range curls. After the 20th rep, I’ll set the bar down and exchange the plates for the next set — this is the only rest I take between sets.
Set two will be at 15 pounds (bar + 2.5 pound plates on either side) for 30 reps. Again, set the bar down and remove the plates for the third set.
Set three is 10 pounds (just the bar) and will be 40 reps. This is where it gets freaky because you’re just curling the bar, but this will put you at 90 reps and your arms will be burning pretty bad. You’re not quite finished yet, though.
After your 40th rep, put those 2.5s back on and again perform 30 reps at 15 pounds. You’ll finish this superset by taking the 2.5s off, adding the 5s and finishing another 20 reps back at 20 pounds. You’ve now done 140 curls and we’re just getting started!
Tri-Set (1/3 and 2/3): Reverse-Grip Tricep Pulldowns and Tricep Pushdowns
1 Set; 12 reps; Rest as needed Primary: Triceps
Add a straight bar to the upper pulley of a machine and pick a weight you can push/pull down for a total of 24 reps. This WON’T be easy! Fortunately you’re only doing one set here so you can rip through it pretty quickly — relatively speaking, of course.
You’ll begin by positioning your hands under the straight bar with your palms facing up. Bend your arms at the elbows, grip the bar tightly and using your triceps, pull the bar down until your arms are straight. Once you’re in the “down” position, the weight will want to jump out of your hands and pull the bar back up but you must stay in control and slowly return the bar to the starting position. That’s your pulldown.
After your twelfth pulldown, you’ll reverse your hands so your palms are facing down and repeat the same range of motion for another 12 reps. This is your push-down. Get it? Your triceps are probably already burning but you have one more thing to do …
Tri-Set (3/3): Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension
1 Set; 12 reps; Rest as needed Primary: Triceps — Secondary: Abs
Start by carefully raising a dumbbell high over your head and positioning it so that it is slightly behind you. You’ll want to cup your hands around the head of the dumbbell like you’re choking it. Now, very similarly to what we did on the machine, you’ll bend at the elbows and slowly lower the weight down behind your head until your arms are fully bent. You’ll finish the rep by extending the arms back out until they’re straight and the weight is directly overhead again. This will burn quickly if you have a challenging weight but only in the best way possible.
Once you finish the twelfth rep here, you can take a short rest and get ready for the next tri-set.
Tri-Set (1/3): Preacher Curls
3 Sets; 8 reps Primary: Biceps
Dom said it best in his Most Alpha Bicep Exercises video:
These are harder to do than regular curls … because you can’t really cheat. And as we know, staying faithful is the hardest thing you can do, which is why they’re called Preacher Curls … Because it takes the strength of god not to cheat.
We’ve all done it. We put too much weight on the curl bar and then we rep it out by using our backs, swinging our hips and using momentum. But these are Preacher Curls and you can’t do any of that shit. It’s just you and the weight.
You’ll want to go pretty heavy for this lift as you’re only looking to complete 8 reps per set. Not a lot of technique to speak of here, either. It’s really just a bicep curl at a Preacher Curl station. Once you finish the 8th rep, move on to the next exercise in the tri-set.
Tri-Set (2/3): Tricep Dips
3 Sets; 10 reps Primary: Triceps — Secondary: Shoulders
Bodyweight exercise, y’all! As we all know, I love the idea of bodyweight exercises but when they come up in my program, I curse under my breath because they’re always harder than you think they’re going to be. At this point in the program, your arms are already going to be toast and the last thing you’ll want to do with them is support your own bodyweight but here we are.
Find a bench or a chair that’s a couple of feet off the ground and sit on it with your hands over the edge, your hands gripping the edge of the seat. Slowly pull your butt forward until it’s off the seat and extend your legs ahead of you so you’re balancing on your heels, supporting most of your weight with your arms. Here, you’ll simply “dip” your self down until you nearly touch the ground and use your triceps to push you back up into position.
For this exercise, we’re looking to complete 10 reps before moving on to the final exercise in the tri-set.
Tri-Set (3/3): Cable Rope Curl
3 Sets; 12 reps; Rest 60 seconds Primary: Biceps — Secondary: Forearms
For this exercise, you’ll want to find the rope attachment near a machine with a low pulley and pick a weight you can complete 12 clean reps with. The range of motion here is almost identical to your basic bicep curl but due to the slack in the rope, your forearms are going to have to get involved for stability. And since you’re using a machine, it’s very important to note that you should be in control of the weight at all times. Since the weight is on a pulley, you’ll feel the weight pulling against you in a different way and it’s up to you to make sure you have control of it all the way down. No slamming, y’all!
You’re going for 12 reps of this exercise. After your final rep, take a minute to breathe and head back to the Preacher Curl station because you’re ripping through this circuit three times total.
Superset (1/2): Skullcrushers
3 Sets; 12 reps Primary: Triceps
This is one of my favorite moves on arms day.
You’ll bust out the EZ-Curl bar once again and load it with a weight that’s challenging but will allow you to do 12 clean reps. Lay back on a bench with the weight held out like you’re about to bench press it. Instead of using your shoulders and chest to lower the weight like a bench press, however, keep your upper arms stretched out and only bend at the elbows until the bar is just above your skull. You’ll want the movement to be slow and controlled lest you drop the weight and make the Skullcrusher live up to its name.
Slowly extend the arms again until the weight is back out in front of you and call it a rep. You’ll do 12 of these before moving on to the next exercise.
Superset (2/2): Decline Bench Press
3 Sets; 12 reps; Rest 60 seconds Primary: Triceps — Secondary: Chest; Shoulders
For your final exercise in the program, you’ll find either a decline bench station or make your own. You can see in my gif that I’m using the trusty Smith machine and I can’t recommend it enough for this move. Personally, I feel like your arms are going to be shot enough at this point that worrying about stabilization is too burdensome so if you have access to a smith, do it. The decline press is identical to the flat or the incline press in that you’re going to slowly lower the bar down to your chest and press it back up only the angle you’re at forces the triceps to do most of the work and … ya know, it’s arm day.
Not going to lie — this is going to suck. At this point, your arms will be toast and this move isn’t easy. But you can do it, and you will. Just 12 reps and you’ll get a full minute to rest before you repeat the superset for a total of 3 circuits.
You’re going to feel cocky after this workout is finished because you will have obliterated your arms. The proper cooldown here is flexing in the mirror a time or two and maybe tweeting something about the pump you just got. You definitely want to hit that protein shake today because you don’t want to lose any of the gains you just forced. Feel free to stretch your arms out any way you choose to and just be prepared because in the next 20 minutes or so, you’ll lose nearly all use of your upper limbs.
So last week’s back day program wasn’t super exciting but this one definitely is. It’s enough to make the rest of the week worth it and if you aren’t steady seeing the person you’re taking out later after this workout, they’re going to want something long term after seeing the way your arms look in your t-shirt. You can thank me later.
Until then, check out the printable version of this workout I’ve put together for you, and as always, let me know what you like/don’t like.