There are plenty of classic arm-training moves, like biceps curls and triceps pressdowns, and these old standbys are forever effective. But for a variety of reasons (think: struggles with mind-muscle connection or form issues or just plain boredom), these moves don’t always build the superhero arms that you might want.
That’s where creative trainers like Don Saladino and Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. come in. Saladino is well-known for his work getting Ryan Reynolds, Sebastian Stan, and Zachary Levi in superhero shape, and he’s the creator of the new Men’s Health workout program, Superhero Shred. Samuel, meanwhile, created the Men’s Health workout New Rules of Muscle and regularly features new takes on classic arm moves in his Eb and Swole series. (Both Superhero Shred and New Rules of Muscle are available on our new workout app, All Out Studio.)
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Both guys know the value of the classics, but they also understand how to keep your arm training off-balance and fun, and they teamed up to mix their tactics and styles in an arm session that’ll leave your biceps and triceps with a ridiculous pump.
You get six moves in this workout, three for biceps and three for triceps, and you get exposed to the unique programming tactics that help Saladino and Samuel get the best out of their clients. Saladino focuses heavily on “tension techniques” throughout his programming, pushing you to stiffen your entire body on every motion, and he injects that into this workout. Samuel, meanwhile, frequently mixes exercises and unique implements; he brings that to the session.
The end result: A spicy, interesting arm workout that’ll throw your body off-balance. Jump right into it here.
Directions: Do this workout twice a week. Finish all sets of each exercise before moving onto the next move. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between each set.
Kneeling Long Bar Curl
Set up in tall kneeling position, sitting on your shins, with your thighs perpendicular from the floor. Squeeze your glutes and squeeze your abs. Hold a single curling bar, unloaded or loaded with very light weight, in one arm, in the center. Keeping your torso tight, curl the bar toward your shoulder, working hard to keep it level with the ground. Return it to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 8 to 10 per arm.
Tempo Close-Grip Pushup
Get in pushup position, with your hands just inside shoulder-width, core and glutes tight. Slowly lower your chest to within an inch of the ground; take three seconds to do this. Pause in this position for one count. Exhale and press back to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 8 to 10.
Floor Double-Skullcrusher to Double JM Press
Lie on the ground, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, core tight, holding dumbbells directly over your shoulder. Bending only at the elbows, lower the dumbbells to within an inch of the floor; press back up. Do this twice. Now bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering the dumbbells so their points touch your shoulders and so your elbows are near your ribcage; keep your elbows close as you do this. Press back up. Repeat this two times. Alternate between the two movements for 10 to 12 total reps. Do 3 sets.
Spider Curl 21s
Lie with your torso on an incline bench set to a 45-degree angle, holding dumbbells in both hands. Tighten your glutes and keep your abs tight; breathe them into the bench. Tighten your upper back muscles. Keep your palms facing away from you. Keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the ground, curl the dumbbells up until your forearms are parallel with the ground; do this seven times. Now do seven curls from that forearms-parallel-to-the-ground point all the way up. Finish with seven full-range curls. That’s 1 set; do 3 sets.
Half-Iso Alternating Kickback
Stand holding light dumbbells. Hinge forward at the waist so your torso is nearly perpendicular with the ground, keeping your upper arms in line with your torso. Straighten your arms at the elbows, squeezing your triceps. Maintaining this straight-arm position with your left arm, bend at the elbow with your right arm; straighten it back. Now repeat the sequence on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 to 12.
Standing Hammer Curl
Standing holding dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Tighten your core and glutes. Keeping your palms facing you, curl both dumbbells upwards. Lower them with control. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12.
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