Category Archives: Muscle Building

Three proven muscle-building strategies

Integrate three proven muscle-building strategies to supercharge your arm routine. You’ll never train your bi’s and tri’s the same way again.

Everyone who’s ever bought a car knows that there are certain features that come standard. Alloy wheels, AM/FM and cup holders, for example. But things like seat warmers, in-dash navigation and full-length moonroof come at a premium. It takes extra dollars to drive the best possible version of a vehicle, so when you see someone driving around in an obscenely upgraded replica of the same hoopty you’re driving, don’t be upset — they were just willing to pay the price.

Building bigger arms is kind of the same way. There are guys who just go through the motions at the gym and walk out looking the same as they did when they came in, having put in the minimum effort. Then there are those who work a little harder — and pay the price — to upgrade what they’ve got. You want tricked-out biceps and triceps? It’s gonna cost you to the tune of more intense workouts, more challenging exercises, more reps past failure, more volume and likely even more pain — the good kind. This six-week plan will show you exactly what you need to start building a set of big arms. To be sure, you’ll have to be willing to make a big down payment in terms of sweat equity.

HOW THIS PLAN IS SPECIAL

Variety of Exercises & Angles. Curls and pressdowns are great but building arms with 3-D appeal requires a multidimensional approach to your training. On this program, some high-volume weeks you’ll do as many as five exercises for your biceps and just as many for your triceps, each working these muscles from slightly different angles. This comprehensive approach ensures that you’re developing your arms to their fullest potential.

Increase in Sets & Reps. One of the best ways to bring up a bodypart is to increase the volume of work performed. Most biceps or triceps routines top out around 12 working sets. In the first two weeks of this program, you’ll do 20 sets for each — a significant increase. This will induce a high level of tissue breakdown that — in concert with a proper nutrition and supplementation plan — will kick protein synthesis, or muscle repair, into overdrive. Of course, this amount of work isn’t sustainable in the long term but it can pay big — and visible — dividends over the course of six weeks.

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Feeling the Edge of Pain. Okay, the “pain” part is hyperbolic and a bit subjective but adding in a few (at times) grueling intensity techniques over the next six weeks will ensure that your bi’s and tri’s have been pushed to the absolute brink. It’s at this precipice that muscles often decide the only option is to come back bigger, stronger and ready for the fight. Each of the three phases in this program features a different technique that’ll contribute to greater overall muscle size.

Change in Rep Speed. For the next six weeks, you’re also going to slow down your rep speed. This will not only help you focus more on the muscles being worked but research indicates it may also help you build more lean mass in the long run. A 2005 study by scientists at the University of Sydney (Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia) found that subjects who took three seconds on both the negative and the positive portion of each rep gained more size in their biceps than a group that performed faster reps. The reason? The negative, or eccentric, portion of each rep causes more microdamage to the muscle bellies, meaning there’s more muscle to be rebuilt post-workout. Those unaccustomed to using such slow and controlled reps in their training will have to leave their egos at home; by providing more total time under tension for bi’s and tri’s, you can count on using 10–20% less weight than you normally do.

It’s also crucial to select weight that promotes positive muscle failure — the point at which you can no longer complete reps using good form without assistance. But fail sparingly. Researchers at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra found that those taking multiple sets of an exercise to failure (in their tests they used the bench press) gained less strength than those who took only one set to failure. It may take one or two workouts to nail your ideal weight loads but your aim should always be to reserve complete failure for your last set, or last two at the most.