1. Exercise execution
Immaculate form and exercise execution are key. This is the first step to ensuring that your arms are getting the correct stimulus on the muscle that you are trying to grow. You need a strong mind-muscle connection and to execute the exercises with tension and excellent form. The way you do an exercise makes a big difference so before going further with the below tips make sure your execution is as good as it can be for the exercises you are doing.
2. Exercise selection
The exercises you use need to be in the right ratio. There is no point doing tons of isolation work, if your overall program lacks big compound lifts, things like heavy bench presses, weighted pull ups etc. Likewise, your arm sessions should focus on the big arm specific lifts, these are things like heavy dips, close grip bench presses, overhead extensions for triceps. Things like heavy barbell curls, seated dumbell curls, hammer curls for biceps. This will contribute to a large percentage of your overall arm development. You can then finish up with “icing on the cake” type exercises. Things like pushdowns, rope extensions, tricep kickbacks etc for triceps. Things like concentration curls, preacher curls, double cable bicep curls etc for biceps. The exercises should also be selected according to which exercises work for you, you can execute well and progress well on. If an exercise stalls more than 3 times,(on a bulk) and you’re not due a deload look to change it.
3. Training frequency
Your arms need the right amount of frequency, there is no point anilating your arms once per week in the hope to grow them. Sure this may work for enhanced advanced pro bodybuilders but it is not optimal for the natural lifter!
Your arms need to be stimulated, with direct work at least twice per week. The goal should be to stimulate them, get out recover as soon as possible so that you can hit them again for a second time that week. Why leave it a whole week to train them again if they are recovered after 3-4 days. Break your arm sessions up into two sessions. The type of split to maximize the benefits of optimal frequency are things like a full body split (for new and slightly intermediate lifters), Upper/lower split (for intermediate to advanced lifters) or a push/pull/legs set up for an advanced lifter.
4. Focus on the science, what makes muscle grow?
Mechanical tension is the biggest driver of muscle hypertrophy, followed by metabolic fatigue.
In short focus most of your efforts on the mechanical tension aspect, most of your arms work should be in the 6-12 rep range. Then focus on the metabolic fatigue part, this is the insane burning that you get from metabolite accumulation in the muscle, as well as cell swelling from the pump. To achieve this focus on some higher rep sets, 12-20+ rep range, adding in some intensity techniques such as rest pause sets, drop sets etc for example.
5. Caloric surplus
To grow new tissue, you need a caloric surplus. You need to be taking in more calories than you burn in order to grow. Whilst full nutritional instructions would be out of the scope of this article. The important things to remember are to consume adequate protein (0.8-1g per lb of lean bodyweight) and to remain in a caloric surplus. Weigh yourself, same time, first thing in the morning each week, if you have not gained weight bump up your calories 5-10%, rinse and repeat!
6. Progressive overload and measurable progress tracking
Your arms will not grow if you constantly place the same workload on them that is, the same weight, the same reps, the same rest time, the same number of sets. In fact, any muscle will not (except in new trainees) You need to apply progressive overload over time to cause an adaptation. This should still come from the muscle adapting and not from a slip in form, it should be the muscles adapting not you changing the exercise to lift more. A simple way to apply progressive overload is to logbook your lifts, and progress on them as often as possible. For example, lets take a bicep curl with a prescribed rep range of 6-10 reps, you come in and you manage to get 8 reps with 30kg. Next session you would look to beat it you may get 9, the next 10, then the following session you are at the top of the rep range so its time to increase the weight, you would increase to 32.5kg and repeat the process.
Measure: Measure your arm progress and track this, are they growing? if so good, if not why not? are you in a surplus? if not get in one, test again. If they are not growing despite being in a surplus and your execution is good then it’s likely a volume issue.
Volume (weightsXrepsXsets=volume) is very person dependent. However by tracking and measuring you can adjust volume, if they are not growing, you have to ask is the stimulus too much or not enough? Try adding more sets or exercises and test again, if that doesn’t work try taking them away? ask yourself what happens if I increase volume? (varified by your measurements) what happens if i decrease volume?(vefified by measurements)
Thanks for reading, I hope that you have learnt something and that this helps you in your quest to building your ultimate physique. Please share this article and reach out with any questions.
Train with a purpose:
I see far too many people training with a sub-par intensity, to really make a change to your physique and build a dense, strong, aesthetic physique, you need to train with purpose.
So what exactly is training with purpose?
I will start by explaining what training without purpose is. Training without purpose is using exercises that don’t work for you or the areas of your physique that need the most improvement, for example always training flat bench when your weak point is your upper chest. Training without purpose is using rubbish intensity and going through the motions, you see whilst volume is very person dependent many people do a ton of volume, often more than is needed but their per set intensity is quite frankly rubbish. Sure you may build some muscle this way, as the volume is the primary driver for hypertrophy, however, I can bet that the quality of the physique will look very different. Many people are short-changing themselves on each and every set, by going nowhere near failure, and making the workout a walk in the park. Many also don’t apply basic progressive overload and lift the same weights session after session after session.
So how do you train with purpose?
So given that we have now defined what training without purpose is, it is quite simple to establish how to train with purpose. So here is how you train with purpose. I am going to keep this short and sweet so that it is easy to take action and train with purpose!
- Make each set count- Don’t be the guy that stops 10 reps short of failure because it starts to hurt a little bit, that’s where it’s starting to work! Instead get close to failure!
- Make each rep count- Focus on the target muscle, lift intensely with good form.
- Use appropriate weight, form should be number one, but don’t use silly light weights that are far too light for you, use appropriate weight with good form
- Exercise selection- Law of specificity. Use appropriate exercises, that work for you and the area you are trying to improve
- Apply Progressive overload- Don’t be the person that lifts the same weights for the same reps, year after year. See my articles on why you should use a logbook, the simple answer is logbook your lifts and try and beat them as often as possible! (logbooks are available in the store)
- Mindset- Everything comes from the mind, go into your session with the mindset that you are here to be better than yesterday, and remind yourself why you are in the gym in the first place, to make changes. Use whatever tools help you, some are visualization, meditation, music, and even pre-workout. Whatever it takes to get your mind right.
- If you are doing too much volume, but cant generate intensity because of it, scale the volume back and make each rep, set and session count and intense. The best physique’s in history were built with intensity and purpose.
There we have it, Simple steps to make sure you train with purpose. A short read with actionable steps. Now go and train with purpose!
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Transitioning from a bro to an advanced lifter
Hello, Today more than ever there is more articles and more self proclaimed experts, which can be a good thing. However this can lead to people being overwhelmed and left spinning their wheels! Thankfully the modelbodynow coach is here to dispel some of these myths! so without further ague lets cut to the chase!