My chest and back are building to the point where they’re making my arms look small. Is it possible for my arms to play catch-up without slowing the growth of my chest and back?
I had that same experience. My chest was so full and my back and shoulders so wide that my arms, even though they were growing, seemed small in comparison. I was stunned, because I’d been blasting my biceps with heavy weight and tons of sets — until my arms dangled limp and lifeless at the end of my workouts.
Funny thing is that while my triceps were in fine fettle from the ancillary work they got from the pushing movements in my shoulder and chest workouts, my biceps felt no different the next day. It was as if I hadn’t worked them the previous day. Moreover, they lacked the vascularity and the hard, spherical peak I expected. The problem was simple: I wasn’t pumping enough blood into every crevice.
To reach that level of fullness, I used a combination of techniques rather than one simple redundant workout. Here’s what I did.
- I trained biceps every third day.
- I alternated two different workouts: a giant-set routine and a more standard straight-set routine.
- I varied my range of motion for alternate workouts, using partial movements performed very slowly with intense concentration one time, then full-range explosive movements the next, with cheat reps for the final set. Whatever part of the biceps one technique didn’t pump to capacity, the other technique would.
- Within each workout, the reps varied. My first exercise was dedicated to power and size, so I used very heavy, explosive movements, even cheat or body leverage motions on the final set, for six to eight reps. To maximize the pump, I followed with exercises that isolated the biceps more directly, performing sets of 10-12 reps. In either case, I concentrated on making my bis take full responsibility for the movement — that was where I wanted to feel the pain, the pump, the searing burn, all the way from the bottom of the biceps belly to the very top of its peak, as if it were an exploding volcano.
In both workouts, my first exercise was the old fashioned and very reliable standing barbell curl. No other exercise hits as much of the biceps muscle group, nor is as fatiguing. I didn’t scrimp on sets, usually doing at least five. Only rarely would I stop at four, and that was only if I had the best pump of my life at that point.
The remaining exercises were for higher reps, usually 10-12, with focus and intense control. Preacher curls followed by concentration curls were my favorites. In both of these exercises, I used a steady, rhythmic movement for the first three or four sets, emphasizing the pumping action, but for the final one or two sets, I applied negative reps, resisting hard, or I asked for a spot for some forced reps.
This catch-up program is no picnic. You’ll work harder than ever, but, oh, how you’ll love the results. - FLEX