By Scott Thom, Humax/Harbinger Ambassador.
Piggybacking off of his article from T_Nation’s 5 Insane Biceps and Triceps Workouts, Scott gives us the lowdown on his favorite finishers to polish off arm day!
To build bigger arms you must create an environment that is conducive to growth. Increasing volume and using specific exercises that focus on your biceps and triceps, is a good start to creating this atmosphere. An easy way to kick your training-for-big-arms environment in to high gear is by adding “finishers” to the end of your workout. The 5 finishers that I use with my athletes and clients are:
Pick two biceps exercises, one that you can do for 10 reps at a moderate pace (1:1 tempo), and one that you can do for 20 fast reps fast.
- Dixon 3-Way
5 reps of dumbbell curls
5 reps of hammer curls
5 reps of cross-body curls
After the last cross-body curl is done, do a drop set by grabbing the next lightest pair of dumbbells (5-10 pounds lighter) and go through the same progression – 5 curls, 5 hammer curls, 5 cross body curls.Then move on to triceps:5 Tate presses*
5 reps of overhead dumbbell extensions
5 reps of dumbbell kickbacks
After the last kickback is done, grab the next lightest pair of dumbbells for each exercise (it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use the same weights for each exercise!) and do another drop set by going through the same progression – 5 Tate presses, 5 overhead DB extensions, and 5 kickbacks.
- Hold Reps
Grab a pair of dumbbells. While standing, curl one arm at a 90-degree angle and hold that position (a static hold) while you do 10 reps of hammer curls with the other arm.
– After 10 reps, switch arms and do the same thing.
– After you finish the 10 reps with the other arm, do two-arm curls for an additional 10 reps.
Then grab another pair of dumbbells and assume a triceps kickback position. Hold one arm straight out (another static hold) while you do 10 reps of kickbacks with the other arm.
– After 10 reps, switch arms and repeat.
– After you finish the 10 reps with the other arm, do 10 triceps kickbacks using both arms simultaneously.
– Start round two of the dumbbell curl hold reps.
– Go back and forth for a total of 5 rounds.
- Run the Rack
Do 10 dumbbell curls. Then pick up two dumbbells that are 10 pounds heavier and do 9 reps. Pick the next heaviest pair of dumbbells and do 8 reps. Continue doing this, best as you can, until you’re down to 1 rep.Now do the same thing with overhead dumbbell extensions. Do a weight for 10 reps, pick the next heavier weight and do 9 reps, etc. After finishing with the dumbbell extensions, go back and repeat the dumbbell curl protocol. Go back and forth between them and the dumbbell extensions for 3 rounds, or a total of 300 reps of biceps work and 300 reps of triceps work.
- Arm Tornado
This one is all about bringing the energy, so grab your workout partner and crank up some adrenaline music. Set up the triceps pressdown at a weight you can do 20 times. Set a pair of dumbbells on the ground next to the press-down (one that you can also curl for 20 times). Start doing triceps press-downs while your partner cranks out dumbbell curls. When you’re both done, switch exercises. Continue doing this for 7 super sets and a total of 140 reps on each exercise.
Due to the nature of these finishers and the rep schemes they encompass you will add 100’s of reps to your overall training load. This will directly increase time under tension of the muscle which in turn, triggers an exercise induced response by the body to … pump blood to the muscles being work, increase growth hormone levels, and stimulate protein synthesis. This scenario creates an environment that is conducive to muscle growth in the arms.
In addition to creating the right training-for-big-arms environment, you must add variability to the workout mix. Timing is key — usually every fourth day of arm-specific training, you can add a new finisher to the mix. It’s important not to change it up too soon, or too often, otherwise you’ll short change the workout and not give your arms time to adapt and grow with the initial finishers. Two-three weeks is usually a good time frame to follow, before you change it up.
This methodology is called exercise induced adaptations — knowing when to add variability and when to rinse and repeat the same workout is critical in muscle growth. Those who train by the “gotta keep the body guessing” thought process, often see little to no gains and are usually confused why their muscles aren’t growing.
Hypertrophy (or building BIG muscles) comes from training you’re a$$ off in the weight room. But, if you don’t allow your body to recover and adapt to the specific workout, if you’re constantly in a “change it up” state of exercise, then you’ll just be in a constant state of soreness. Not allowing the body the time it needs, to adapt and grow — and build those big arms you want.
To read in more detail about Scott’s Arm Finishers, visit T_Nation’s 5 Insane Biceps and Triceps Workouts.
Ambassador Scott Thom is in his first season at the lead strength coach for Men’s Basketball at Washington State University. He just left UC Berkeley after 5 years as the head strength and conditioning coach for men’s basketball. Thom recently completed his second off-season training program where he continues to develop a positive, and learning conducive training atmosphere with a “get after it” mentality. Contact Scott.