Four Weeks to Bigger Arms

By David Allen

From 2012 Programs That Work eBook

If there are any constants across the board among all who engage in weight training, the desire for bigger arms is one of them. Combined with a huge yoke and a wide chest, sleeve-stretching arms are the best way to show the world you work out. In addition to their aesthetically pleasing attributes, large guns also aid the lifter in strength-based activities. Total cross sectional area of a muscle group is a major determinant of multiple strength categories for that muscle group as well. Due to changes in lever arm length, larger arms can also provide better leverage in certain lifts. In the end, bigger arms are always better than smaller arms. So how do we make them grow?
First, we must analyze the three mechanisms through which hypertrophy occurs. These three mechanisms are 1) maximal mechanical tension, 2) muscular damage, and 3) metabolic stress. In short, this means that in order to induce the greatest hypertrophy in a muscle, you must maximize the amount of weight lifted, the amount of protein degradation you cause within the muscle, and the amount of metabolic stress you put upon the muscle group.
Another aspect of muscle growth to consider is fiber type. It is known that fast twitch muscle fibers have more potential for growth than slower twitch fibers, although they have growth potential as well. In order to maximally tax all of our fast twitch muscle fibers, we have to engage our highest threshold motor units. This can be achieved with varying methods that cause the greatest mechanical tension within the muscle. Vladimir Zatsiorsky defined three methods for achieving this: 1) max effort method, 2) repetition effort method, and 3) the dynamic effort method.
Taking all this into consideration, we can come to the conclusion that a program that uses multiple training methods and incorporates varying movements, varying tensions, and varying sets and rep ranges is the best method to induce the greatest possible arm growth. Also, it is important to prioritize our arm growth while maintaining other muscle groups and fitness characteristics. Therefore, we will use a four-week training block that has two training days dedicated specifically to arm growth and two days dedicated to the maintenance of our other body parts. Since the arms are smaller muscle groups, I do not think it is necessary to have—nor do I believe that they can handle—training blocks longer than four weeks when they are being trained with such high intensity, volume, and frequency. Here is the general template for our arm training:

Arm Hypertrophy Template: Exercise 1: Explosive lift using accommodating resistance, 3X1 tempo (3-second eccentric, explode up at the bottom of the lift, 1-second contraction at the top), 5 sets of 5-7 reps Exercise 2: Isolation lift with constant tension, 3 sets of 8-12 reps Exercise 3: Major lift with extended intensity using accommodating resistance, 2 sets of 10 reps, 1 set of max reps followed immediately by 1 or 2 drop sets. Exercise 4: Pump exercise with full range of motion and a focused contraction at the top, 3 sets of 15+reps

Weekly Training Template:

Monday: Arms

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Lower Body Maintenance

Thursday: Arms
Friday: Rest

Saturday: Upper body Maintenance
Sunday: Rest

Weeks 1-4 Training

Monday: Standing Swiss Bar Curls against bands, 3X1 tempo, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7 Cable EZ Bar Curls, 8-12, 8-12, 8-12 Barbell Curls w/chains, 10, 10, Max, Drop, Drop Single Arm DB Preacher Curls, 15+, 15+, 15+ Close Grip Bench Press against bands, 3X1 tempo, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7 Single Arm Overhead DB Extension, 8-12, 8-12, 8-12 Dips w/ chains from belt, 10, 10, Max, Drop, Drop Rope Pressdowns, 15+, 15+, 15+

Wednesday: Squats (or box squats), 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 Leg Press, 10, 10, 10 Glute Ham Raises or Russian Leans, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 RDL or Reverse Hypers, 10, 10, 10, 10 Standing Calf Raises, 50 total reps Any Abdominal Exercise, 100 total reps

Thursday: EZ Bar Skull Crushers w/ chains, 3X1 tempo, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7 Single Arm Grenade Ball Cable Side Triceps Extension, 8-12, 8-12, 8-12 JM Press against Bands, 10, 10, Max, Drop, Drop Both Arm Overhead Kettlebell/DB Extension, 15+, 15+, 15+ Seated Both Arm Chain Curls, 3X1 tempo, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7, 5-7 Cable Rope Hammer Curls, 8-12, 8-12, 8-12 Alternating DB Curls against bands, 10, 10, Max, Drop, Drop EZ Bar Preacher Curls, 15+, 15+, 15+

Saturday: Incline Bench Press, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 Pull-ups/Pull-downs, 10, 10, 10, 10 Face Pulls, 15, 15, 15 Any Abdominal Exercise, 100 total reps Stretch
There you go—a very simple four-week training block to put some size on your arms. Make sure your nutrition is in check and you are taking in the requisite amount of nutrients necessary for growth. DO NOT try to do any extra work on top of this or max out on your maintenance days. I know the maintenance days do not seem like much, but that is the point. The training block only lasts four-weeks, so you can suck it up and tone it down a notch on those days. If grip becomes a problem on some of the exercises, you can use chalk or lifting straps. Your forearms will get plenty of work in so there is no need to do any extra. After you finish the four weeks, take your arm training back down to one day a week or as accessories on your other days. You could do an arm prioritizing block like this probably three or four times a year. Be smart, train hard, and make sure you’ve got plenty of short sleeve shirts to show off your new guns.


Truck-ups, Box Jumps and Rocks

By Josh McMillan
From 2009 Holiday Tips: Training Insanity

It was the first time I trained at Matt Kroczaleski’s place with a couple of our training partners. We squatted this night, fairly heavy, with gear on (not sure of the weight). After we squatted, we did log lunges up and down Matt’s slanted driveway for about three sets of 10 each way. By this time our quads - or at least mine - were shot. Matt decided to see who could jump into the bed of his jacked-up pickup without touching the side of the truck (having to land in the bed). Well, we all attempted this “not so smart obstacle.” Matt was first to make it, and I made it after a couple attempts, along with two more of our training partners. One of our training partners hit his face on the truck and was bleeding. Another caught his feet on the side of the truck, then landed on the cement driveway on his back. From there, our inner competitiveness drove us to jump a big electrical box in his front yard, and again our legs were fried already. We accomplished this fairly easily compared to the truck obstacle.
Finally, to break the three-way tie, we found a large rock in the yard and decided to use it as a shot put. Now, this had nothing to do with working legs anymore, but it sure tore my shoulder apart! I believe at one point I had the longest shot put, then Matt out-threw all of us because he wouldn’t give up until he did!
This was probably the hardest and most taxing workout on a squat day, and is the workout at this point I would “never do again,” for several different reasons.
One reason is that I could have really gotten hurt jumping into the back of the truck, tearing what I have left of my quads after tearing them apart a year before. Second, throwing that shot put took a toll on my not-so-flexible shoulders. But this is what happens when you have that competitive drive in you, and training partners pushing one another!