Arms workouts

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To make major changes to how you look with your shirt off, you need to take your training to a higher level. While there’s no substitute for hard graft if you want to build up your body fast, you’re only as ever as effective as your training plan. After all, working hard without following a smart plan will only return a small percentage of the benefits you could achieve when you work hard and smart at the same time.

This month’s four-week workout has been designed to help you add serious size to your arms and chest quickly and effectively by dedicating more training time to these muscle groups. In the first block of the plan your arms get special attention, while in the second block your chest gets more time under the bar. This approach will hit these muscles hard to force them to grow bigger, while also building up all your other major muscle groups and stripping away fat.

Session theory

The plan contains two two-week blocks. The first has four sessions a week: chest and back; legs and abs; biceps and triceps; and shoulders and arms. The second has four sessions a week: chest and back; legs and shoulders; chest and triceps; and back and biceps.

Workout order

Each workout has six moves you’ll do as straight sets, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest detailed. Tempo is the speed at which you lift and lower the weight in seconds. A 3010 tempo means you take three seconds to lower it and one to raise it, with no pause at the top or bottom.

Smart changes

In the first week of block 1 you’ll do four sets of ten reps for moves 1 and 2, then three sets of 12 reps for moves 3 to 6. In the second week of the block the moves are the same but you’ll do one additional set of ten reps of moves 1 and 2, and four sets of 12 reps for the remaining moves. Jump to block one week two. 

Up the ante

In block 2 the session structure and exercise you’ll do will change so you keep your body growing bigger and stronger. There are still six moves in each workout and they’re to be done as straight sets, and it’s important you stick to the sets, reps, tempo and rest periods detailed. Check back on Friday 10th August for block two week one, and Friday 17th August for block two week two. 

Warm up right

To perform better and avoid injury, you need to warm up. Do light sets of the first two moves of each session, starting with a high-rep, low-weight set to get your muscles moving. Then with each set, up the weight and reduce the reps until you get to your starting work-set weight.

Block 1 Week 1

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

1 Bench press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

2 Bent-over row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Bend forwards, hinging from your hips, but keep your chest up and your core braced. Row the bar up to your body, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower.

3 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie back on an incline bench, holding two dumbbells directly over your chest with straight arms. Bend your elbows slightly, then lower your hands out to the sides until you feel a stretch across your chest. Squeeze your pecs to return to the start.

4 Lat pull-down

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

5 One-arm cable press

Sets 3 Reps 10 each side Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your back to a cable machine, holding a D-handle in one hand. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press your hand forwards until your arm is straight. Reverse back to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

6 Dumbbell pull-over

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 4010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell in both hands above your chest with straight arms. Lower the weight behind your head in a slow and controlled movement, keeping your arms straight, then raise it back to the start position.

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

1 Back squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tight, bend your knees to squat down as low as you can but don’t let your knees roll inwards. Push through your heels to stand back up.

2 Romanian deadlift

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend forwards, hinging at the hips, to let the bar roll down the front of your legs until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the movement.

3 Leg extension

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the bottom of your shins. Keeping your upper body tight, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

4 Hamstring curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the backs of your lower legs. Keeping your upper body tight, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

5 Crunch

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and hands by your temples or crossed over your chest. Engage your upper abs to raise your torso, then crunch your upper body up towards your knees. Lower slowly, keeping tension on your abs throughout.

6 Plank

Sets 3 Time 30sec Tempo N/A Rest 60sec

Get into position with your elbows under your shoulders, your feet together and your hips raised with abs and glutes engaged so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position without letting your hips drop.

Friday Workout: Biceps And Triceps

1 Underhand lat pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width underhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

2 Triceps dip

Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Grip parallel bars with straight arms and your legs crossed behind you. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend your elbows to lower your body until your elbows are bent at 90°. Press back up to return to the start.

3 Dumbbell biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

4 Dumbbell triceps extension

Sets 3 Reps 10 each side Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell over your head with your arm straight. Keeping your elbow pointing to the ceiling, lower the weight behind your head, then straighten your arm to return to the start. Repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

5 Cable biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a straight-bar handle attached to the lower pulley with palms facing forwards. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, curl your hands up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower.

6 Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a straight-bar handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing down. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

Saturday Workout: Shoulders And Arms

1 Overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a bar across the front of your chest with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, press the bar directly overhead so your arms are straight. Lower it under control to return to the start.

2 Chin-up

Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Hold a bar with an underhand grip and hang with your body straight. Brace your abs and glutes and engage your lats, then pull up until your chin is above your hands. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.

3 EZ-bar upright row

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding an EZ-bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, row the bar up to chin height, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower the bar back to the start under control.

4 Incline dumbbell biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Sit on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards and your elbows tight to your sides. Keeping your elbows there, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights.

5 Dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Stand tall, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows, then return slowly to the start.

6 Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Time 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a straight-bar handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing down. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

Block 1: Week 2

The workout tables below contain all the information you need to complete the second week of the plan, which is the second and final week of block 1. At first sight the four workouts may appear similar – and indeed the exercises, exercise order and target body part focus of each session are all the same as in the first week. However, there are two small but significant changes this week that have been introduced to push your working muscles harder to build more lean mass, and keep your heart rate high so you continue to chip away at excess fat stores.

The first change is that in this week you’ll do an extra set of ten reps of the first two moves of each circuit, so a total of five sets of ten reps. This extra set will fire up your muscles and central nervous system so you can push harder for the rest of the workout. The other change is that you’ll do an extra two reps of moves 3 through to 6 to increase your training volume so your muscles have no choice but to keep on growing!

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Bench press 5 10 2010 60sec
2 Bent-over row 5 10 2011 60sec
3 Incline dumbbell flye 4 12 2010 60sec
4 Lat pull-down 4 12 2011 60sec
5 One-arm cable press 4 12 each side 2011 30sec
6 Dumbbell pull-over 4 12 2010 60sec

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Back squat 5 10 2010 60sec
2 Romanian deadlift 5 10 2010 60sec
3 Leg extension 4 12 2011 60sec
4 Hamstring curl 4 12 2011 60sec
5 Crunch 4 12 2011 60sec
6 Plank 4 45sec N/A 60sec

Friday Workout: Biceps And Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Underhand lat pull-down 5 10 2011 60sec
2 Triceps dip 5 6-10 2010 60sec
3 Dumbbell biceps curl 4 12 2011 60sec
4 Dumbbell triceps ext 4 12 each side 2010 60sec
5 Cable hammer curl 4 12 2011 60sec
6 Cable triceps press 4 12 2011 60sec

Saturday Workout: Shoulders And Arms

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Overhead press 5 10 2010 60sec
2 Chin-up 5 10 2011 60sec
3 EZ-bar upright row 4 12 2011 60sec
4 Incline dumbbell curl 4 12 2011 60sec
5 Dumbbell lateral raise 4 12 2011 60sec
6 Cable triceps press 4 12 2011 60sec

Check back on Friday 10th August for block two week one