BY JIM SMITH Men's Fitness
We have a confession to make: We don’t really know why muscles grow. In fact, nobody does. The best science has done thus far is show us myriad training and nutrition approaches that are “associated” with muscle growth. It’s a constantly evolving field, and that’s how we’re able to develop new and different—and increasingly effective—workouts each month. This month’s arm workout, however, is more of a best of: You’ll find a mash-up of several of the most reliable muscle-building strategies, fused together into one surprisingly simple workout with a specific focus on building your arms like never before.
HOW IT WORKS
The main way we know to build muscle is by lifting heavy weights, but we assume you’ve done enough of that already; and if your arms are still skinny, you need to try another method. One of these is focusing on the eccentric (lowering) portion of a rep, which causes more damage to the muscle (a necessary component of making it grow) and is associated with greater rebuilding of that muscle. Another is isometric holds—stopping at the hardest point in a rep’s range of motion. Finally, there’s volume: Lots of sets and reps have been shown to exhaust the muscles like nothing else and force them to grow. Hey, we can’t explain exactly why it works, but at least we know it does.
Complete the workout once per week, resting at least a day before and after any other upper-body training. Perform the pairs (marked “A” and “B”) as supersets: You’ll do one set of A, then a set of B, rest, then repeat until all the prescribed sets are done. Perform exercises 3 and 4 as conventional straight sets.
1A. Dumbbell Crush-Grip Preacher Curl
Sets: 4 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 0 sec.
Sit at a preacher bench with a dumbbell in each hand. The top of the pad should come up to your armpits. Push the ends of the dumbbells together hard so you feel tension in your arms, shoulders, and chest. Curl the weights while maintaining this tension.
1B. Close-Grip Bench Press
Sets: 4 Reps: 20 Rest: 2 min.
Lie on a flat bench and grasp the bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Take the bar out of the rack and lower it to your chest before pressing it back up.
2A. Incline Dumbbell Curl
Sets: 4 Reps: 5 reps/5-second hold Rest: 0 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a 45- to 60-degree incline and sit back against it with a very light dumbbell in each hand. Allow your arms to hang. Without moving your upper arms, curl the weights. After each rep, lower the weights until your arms are bent 90 degrees. Hold this position for five seconds. Repeat the process for five total reps and five holds— that’s one set.
2B. Lying Triceps Extension
Sets: 4 Reps: 12 Rest: 2 min.
Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand and press the weights over your chest. With palms facing each other, bend your elbows and lower the weights to the sides of your face. Keep your elbows pointing toward the ceiling.
3. Barbell Curl
Sets: 1 Reps: 100 Rest: As little as possible
Hold an empty bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Perform 10 curls, taking three seconds to lower each rep. Immediately afterward, perform 10 more reps, taking only one second to lower the bar. Alternate this pattern—slow and fast negatives—until you reach 100 reps.
4. Band Pushdown
Sets: 1 Reps: 150 Rest: As little as possible
Attach a light band to a sturdy overhead object and grasp an end with both hands. Brace your upper arms at your sides and extend your elbows to *******.
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