There’s nothing like a set of big tee shirt busting arms to complete a strong, well rounded physique.
Believe it or not, you can actually have some pretty impressive arms without even directly training your arms! I haven’t had a real day set aside to just work out my arms in over a year. And as crazy as it sounds, they’re still growing! Growing well enough in fact, that I’d say they’re just as good or even better than when I was bodybuilding competitively.
My upper body workouts these days have all based around the big compound lifts, higher rep and explosive bodyweight exercises, with even some strongman and olympic lifts thrown in from time to time. All of the exercises I use hit both biceps and triceps indirectly, thus working them hard with heavy weights and explosive movements.
Take weighted chin ups. Sure they’re great a great back exercise, but they also double as a great way to build up the biceps. Or better yet, do some chin ups on gymnastics rings to really get your biceps feeling huge!
And for triceps, movements like heavy bench presses, military presses, handstand pushups, or any other pressing movements will have them smoked.
So do I recommend not doing any direct arm work at all then?
Of course not!
Arm muscles are pretty resilient so while they’ll get far this way, some isolation work is needed to be thrown in to take them to the next level of development. I just like to focus on my big movements first and save my pump work for afterwards and throw in some isolation arm exercises as finishers. But that’s just me. Whether you follow an upper/lower split, a classic push/pull type split, or a bro split with an arm day and all, these 4 arm workout finishers are sure to have you feel like you’re going to rip through your shirt sleeves!
1. An arm day tri-set
This is an arm workout tri-set that’s guaranteed to have you leaving the gym feeling like you’re about to bust out of your sleeves.
Like many of my workout finishers, this is another that was shown to me to an experienced lifter that took me under his wing when I was just a beginner and taught me how to lift.
EZ bar curls x 10-12
Skull crushers x 10-12
EZ bar close grip bench presses x one rep short of failure
With this tri-set, all exercises will be performed back to back so pick a weight that at least 10 reps can be completed with on each exercise.
2. Drop set 21s (42s)
Ever try 21s? They’re a great way work the entire bicep with 21 grueling reps, keeping muscles under tension and bringing in new growth.
To perform 21s, pick a moderately heavy weight and do 7 barbell curls, stopping at the half way point of the movement. Next, bring the barbell to your chin and hit another seven reps, this time going halfway down. Finally perform 7 full barbell curls, going slow and controlled and really squeezing at the top and feeling the contraction.
By this point you should be feeling good and pumped! And normally that’s where the set would stop. But not today.
Immediately strip some weight from the barbell and go through the whole 21 again! And if you’re really feeling sadistic, strip the weight completely and hit one more set with just the barbell. By this point you should be feeling pretty well smoked and ready to move on and bust out a finisher for your triceps.
3. Howdie dooties (I go you go)
You’ll need a partner at a similar strength level for this intense 55 rep finisher!
Pick a weight that you can do 12-15 barbell curls with. Hit 10 reps and pass the bar to your partner and they’ll hit 10 reps. Then they’ll pass the bar back and you’ll do 9. Go back and forth all the way back down to one single rep. Take that final rep slow and controlled-at least 10 seconds up on the positive portion of the rep and then another 10 on the negative.
4. Bench dip teardowns
In my years of training, I’ve found that nothing hits my triceps better than bench dips.
For this finisher, start by sitting at the edge of a bench with hands at your sides. Grip the edge of the bench with your fingers going over the side and elevate feet on a second bench set across from you. Have a workout partner set a weight plate or dumbbell on your lap and drop your butt down and perform a dip. Really squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement. Your training partner may have to help stabilize the weight on these, as the plates can shift from side to side.
If you’ve been training for a while, you’ll probably surprise yourself and find that you can actually do a lot of weight with these! Work up to a weight that you can hit 8-10 reps with. Stopping one rep before failure, have your training partner take away a plate and bust out another set. Remember, don’t go to complete failure or you could get stuck at the bottom of the movement!
Depending on how many plates you have stacked on your lap, continue to have your training partner pull plates and keep doing sets until you’re only at bodyweight. Then do a final burnout set. Your triceps should be screaming.
A word of caution on these, maintain a slight bend in the knees. Keeping straight legs with a lot of weight can be rough on the knees. So be careful and listen to your body! If something feels weird it’s better to move on and live to train another day.
Sample training day:
Below is an actual workout my buddy Charlie and I did a few weeks ago that mixed strength, gymnastic movements, and a bit of bodybuilding all into one workout. We started with gymnastic ring pull ups, which doesn’t only hit the back but will also give the biceps a killer workout as well. Using gymnastic rings gives you the freedom to turn in your wrists at the top of the movement and really give those biceps a good squeeze. For a finisher, we threw in some bench dip teardowns to ensure that the triceps were nice and full before calling it a day. You’ll notice there is a bit more volume per exercise than in my previous posts, but that’s the beauty of training with different partners from time to time to change things up and get out of your comfort zone.
- Weighted Ring Chin Ups 8×5 (yeah, thats 8 sets of 5 reps)
- Strict Standing Barbell Presses 6×4
- Dumbbell Incline Presses 5×8
- Weighted Bench Dips 3×6
- Bench Dip Teardowns- started with our last weight we got for 6 and tore down from there
We could have thrown in a bicep finisher as well, but the weighted ring dips were enough to have the biceps thoroughly worked.
Thanks for the read! What are some of your favorite arm workout finishers? Comment below. And don’t forget to give us a share!!
Train hard and eat well!
Check with a physician or qualified healthcare provider before embarking on any changes made to lifestyle, training, supplementation, or eating.