Shawn "Flexatron" Rhoden won the Arnold Classic Europe in 2012; now his sights are set on winning the original Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. On March 1, he'll take the stage to battle with the best in the business and he's coming armed for battle.
Rhoden's biceps and triceps are the epitomy of balanced size & shape. Year by year his arms keep growing along with this career where he currently stands as a top contender for every major title in bodybuilding. To build these guns, Rhoden trades off between triceps and biceps moves in a quick but deadly efficient 45-minute session. Here, he offers a blow-by-blow account of the action.
Exercise No. 1: TRICEPS ROPE PRESSDOWN
Sets: 4–5, Reps: 8–12, Weight: Up to a full stack (plus a 45-pounder)
The first stop on Rhoden’s arm workout is at the pushdown station. There, he clicks a rope attachment into place on the high pulley, grasping an end with each hand while stepping into a solid shoulder-width stance facing the weight stack. He brings his elbows down to his sides in tight formation, pulling the rope down until his forearms are parallel with the floor. This is his starting position.
From here, his tri’s engage to straighten his arms to full elbow extension—Rhoden adds a slight twist of the wrist at the end, so his palms end up facing the floor at the peak contraction. Without a pause, he bends his arms back to the start. Between each rep, the stack never touches down, since that would release the all-important tension on his triceps.
Exercise No. 2: STANDING BARBELL CURL
Sets: 4–5, Reps: 8–12, Weight: 95–185 lbs
Switching gears to biceps, Rhoden takes aim at barbell curls next, starting with a 25-pound plate on each side of the barbell. With his feet placed shoulder-width apart and body upright, eyes focused forward and holding the bar at his hips with a palms-forward grip, he breathes in as he contracts his bi’s. The barbell comes up in an arc toward his shoulders to full flexion.
His arms taut, his biceps a thick, hard knot at the top, Rhoden breathes out as he lowers the bar back to the start. Throughout, his elbows stay locked to his sides, never shifting forward, which tends to happen when lifting more than you can handle. “When I walk out onstage, the judges aren’t going to ask me how much I curl or squat,” he points out. “Other guys worry about how much weight they’re lifting. I have to keep reminding myself, ‘I’m a bodybuilder, not a powerlifter.’ ”
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