This back-off set workout will get you swole bi's and tri's to show off on the beach.
Tim Hartwig, C.S.C.S. 1 / 12
Three sets of 10 will always be a good set-and-rep scheme for muscle gains, but if that’s all you ever do, it’ll wear out its welcome fast. To get your arms growing again, you need to trick them into lifting more weight for more reps, thereby increasing the stimulus that makes them bigger. Back-off sets accomplish this. Combine them with exercises you’ve never tried that hit the biceps, triceps, and forearms from every angle and you’ll stretch your shirtsleeves by summertime.
How it works: Most of the exercises that follow use the same progression: You’ll do a moderate set of 10 reps and then increase the weight and reduce the reps each set thereafter so you recruit more muscle fibers. On your last set, you’ll do a “back-off,” whereby you reduce the weight to the load you started with and pump out as many reps as you can. Even though you’ll be fatigued after three heavy sets, your nervous system has gotten the message: Gather as many muscle fibers as possible. Now you’ll be stronger going into your last set and can use a weight you got only 10 reps with minutes before for perhaps as many as 15. Greater stimulus equals greater growth.
Directions: Perform the “A” and “B” exercises as a superset. So you’ll do one set of A, then B, and then rest 40 seconds. Repeat until all sets are complete for the pair and then move on to the next pair. For the first four exercises, you’ll perform four sets of 10, 8, 6, and then 10 or more reps. Increase the weight each set and then, on the last set, return to the weight you used on the first set of 10 and go for as many reps as you can. The forearm exercises (5A–5C) are done in sequence as well. Afterward, rest for 40 seconds and repeat until all sets are done.
2A. Preacher Curl Grasp a straight bar with hands at shoulder width and sit at a preacher bench station. The top of the pad should be right under your armpits, and your upper arms should rest on it comfortably. From the up position, lower your arms until you feel a stretch in your biceps. Curl the bar back up.
Sit on a bench holding one dumbbell with both hands by one of its bell ends. Press the weight straight over your head. Keeping your upper arms vertical, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbell behind your head until you feel a stretch on the triceps. Extend your elbows.
Hold a dumbbell in one hand and let your arm hang at your side with your palm facing your body. Curl the weight up and across your body so your knuckles point toward the opposite shoulder in the top position.
Attach a D-handle to the low pulley of a cable station and grasp it in one hand. Turn to face away from the cable machine. The cable should pull your arm behind your body so you feel a stretch in the biceps. From there, perform a curl; keep your elbow back.
4B. JM Press
Lie back on a bench and hold a bar over your chest as if you were going to bench press. Simultaneously lower your arms and bend your elbows so that the bar moves in a straight line toward your neck. When you feel a stretch in your triceps, press the bar back up.
Hold a barbell behind your body with both hands and allow it to roll down onto your fingertips. Roll the bar back up into your hand and then curl your wrist, squeezing your forearm muscles at the top. Use at least an empty 45-pound barbell and go for as many reps as possible.
Sit on the edge of a bench holding a five-pound plate in one hand. Rest your forearm on your thigh and allow your hand to hang off, wrist flexed. Now extend your wrist fully to raise the plate. Do as many reps as you can and then repeat on the other side.
Stand up and let your arms hang at your sides. Rapidly spread your fingers out wide and then clench your fists—each open and close is one rep (one “flash”). Do 25 reps and then raise your arms out 90 degrees and repeat. Raise your arms overhead and do one last miniset of 25.