How do I get big biceps? What is the best secret to big
arms? Should I train my arms 3 times a week to make them huge? These questions
provide a snippet into my inbox where people contact me as they want to know
HOW to get a killer set of arms. Well, most say ‘’biceps’’ but they mean arms –
a little more on that one later. No matter how many times you explain the
fundamentals of arm training people want to know more, they believe there is
something being kept back. Today I wanted to give you a comprehensive insight
in arm training, my personal approach and why I believe this will also yield
great results for you too! Let’s not waste a second more; it is time to get
Arnie rivalling arms guys!!
Back when I was 16 I craved big arms, that is all I cared
about. For all the impressive physiques I had looked at I had somehow
overlooked the fact they had a ‘’physique’’ of muscle – not just granite arms.
This means as I write this I am relating to those of who have not yet began
your journey, yet have that very same desire I had 6 years ago – and still have
today. Being a skinny lad who had the strength of a glycogen depleted 10 year
old on a good day – my arms were only around 11’’ back then. Today they are a
working progress, measuring a respectable 17’’ – and a bit as I always like to
add right after. After trial and error (and a lot of input from Y3T master Neil
Hill and DTP supreme Kris Gethin) I found a path which gave me the best
results. More than that, I found a path which helped ALL of my clients. Ladies
and gentlemen, I introduce to you my Y3T and DTP arm training programme.
Y3T & DTP
Y3T and DTP are two very effective training protocols which
I have adopted over the last 18 months to great effect. Having spent a lot of
time outlining the principles behind these systems we will keep the ‘’overall’’
view for another day – instead we will look at my specific application for arm
training and how I think it can benefit you too.
Before I continue may I point out that you need to focus on
your biceps AND triceps. Triceps make up approximately 2/3s of the arm.
My arm training for week 1 focuses on heavy training yet the
correct application of each repetition is crucial. Using a repetition range of
5-8 (this is for me personally, I know what works best for my body) I will
complete 6 sets for biceps and 6 sets for triceps.
Again, personally I will do 2 exercises per body part – for
biceps I like to use single arm preacher curls and bar curls. For triceps,
straight bar pushdowns and an overhead extension are my preferred choices
during week 1. Generally these exercise choices are based on what has worked
for me, but the final exercise for triceps (overhead extensions) are something
I advocate to everyone. Why? In short, the triceps are made up of three heads
including the ‘long head’ which runs right down the back of your arm towards
your elbow. Overhead triceps exercises are the best way to activate the long
head from my experience and really stretch it.
During week 1 the intention is to focus on myofibrillar
muscular hypertrophy – this form of hypertrophy is functional and leads to the
strengthening of the muscle fibres. Keeping it short and sweet, this occurs as
the fast twitch fibres are filled with myofibrils which can lead to enhanced
strength. Aesthetically, the muscle will look denser and harder as myofibrillar
Not only am I able to benefit from myofibrillar hypertrophy,
I also believe that by increasing my strength my strength during higher
repetition workouts will also be increased – again leading to faster gains.
In regards to repetition speed, I always focus on a 2-4
second negative, 1-2 second concentric contraction and hold the isometric
contraction for 1-2 seconds. I have found this really forces the muscle to work
much harder, recruiting for muscle fibres AND improving the mind to muscle
connection. Oh ye, it stops you swinging weights around the gym like a sissy
My arm training for week 2 changes altogether. Like many
avid iron pumping bunnies I am prone to suffering with joint pain – this stems
from lifting too heavy on the bench press as a youngster, causing rotor cuff
injuries. Where week 1 is based around heavy weight, week 2 uses slightly
lighter resistance. Don’t get me wrong, we are not going ‘’light’’ as it were.
As an example, using rest/pause I hit 20 reps on each arm when doing bicep
curls with 20kg dumbbells.
With that said, a week 2 workout for me will be based around
2 sets of alternating dumbbell curls, 2 sets of concentration curls and 1 set
of close grip EZ bar curls. The second half of the workout will consist of 2
sets of rope pushdowns, 2 sets of overhead single arm dumbbell extensions and 1
set of weighted bench dips. For both muscle groups the repetition range
increases to between 12-18 for the most part although the weighted dips can go
as much as 25 reps to finish off.
This style of training is going to stimulate sarcoplasmic
hypertrophy which basically means sarcoplasmic fluid goes into the muscle cell
– giving the muscle a ‘’pumped’’ look. Using this kind of repetition range will
also help improve muscular endurance to an extent.
The repetition speed alters slightly as my reps increase.
The negative is normally done over 2 seconds, as where the concentric and
isometric contractions remain much the same.
Week 3 all hell breaks loose!! Typically, I will employ the
DTP training principle in week 3 for my arms. For those who do not know what
this means, basically you do a set of 50, then 40, 30, 20, 10, and then all the
way back up. On arm day, to spice things up I actually super set biceps and triceps.
For example, I will do barbell curls for 50 reps then go straight into triceps
pushdowns for 50 reps, rest 60 seconds then go into the next set.
Never before have I experienced a pump quite like it. After a
DTP arm workout it is not uncommon (depending on glycogen load) for my arms to
go past 18’’ for the following 20-30 minutes. Talk about stretching the fascia
to new. . . .Uhhh. . .lengths!?
Week 3 brings the slow twitch muscle fibres into play on a
whole new level which will inevitably stimulate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. However,
when you drop down to the 10 rep range don’t be fooled – the weight is still
HEAVY so this isn’t about getting a ‘burn’ with some high rep pump sets. To
outline the intensity, when I do 50 reps I will fail at 20-25 which forces me
to rest for 2-3 seconds before getting another 5 or so – by 40-45 I can barely
do singles. This is how it has got to be.
Following this training pattern for your arms over a 12 week
period will in my opinion make you progress like never before – give it a go,
just remember to have the ‘’intensity’’ volume turned RIGHT up. Y3T and DTP
cannot be done by halves, it is all or nothing baby – and I choose ALL!