By David Sandler Flex
The key to serious size is to take that mythical, only-in-the-gym pump and turn it into permanent muscle. Sure, you can do some fast back-to-back exercises and push your pump through the roof—causing your clothing to fit tight—but just a few short hours later, that pump is gone, and you don’t have the muscle to show for it. The answer to this dilemma is to combine pump-type training with permanent size- and strength-building exercises, then allow for maximal recovery before beating your muscles into submission in the next workout.
There are two likely mechanisms for the dramatic increases seen using this type of training program.
1) The first concept has to do with the natural process of protein synthesis throughout the entire muscle cell and its structural components, including the cell walls themselves, the connective tissues, and the contractile elements. However, with this specific type of stress, it appears that process is enhanced, likely due to the increased volume of training and our better understanding of the importance of supplementation and good nutrition.
2) The less complicated—but also less understood—concept is the process of cellular swelling that appears to maintain its overall characteristics without affecting muscle function. We know that under injury, including that from severe DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the damaged tissue area swells significantly, generally limiting function, and as the swelling goes down, function is restored. The current thinking here is that if we catch the swelling at the right moment, somewhere after the pain subsides and full functionality returns, and we continue to train, we reap the benefits of the added tissue swelling. As we have proven time and again using serious volume training programs like this, if you hit those muscles regularly with proper rest, you maintain the size from both swelling and tissue development. So, we continue to drive the size of the muscle upward: a) if we tear down the tissue by enhancing the muscle-building process; b) provide just the right amount of rest; c) attack the muscle again with an appropriate volume that it can handle.
This program delivers the patented pump-pushing dropset and superset mentality, along with the foundational size-building method of time under tension (TUT). Alternating high- and low-rep sets, increased volume, and short rests provide the pump that make your biceps bulge and triceps terrorize without even flexing.
BICEPS FORM & FUNCTION
The outer portion of the biceps muscle, also known as the long head, typically sees greater activation the more vertical or pronated your grip is up to the point of performing a hammer-type curling action. The inner head, or the short head, tends to get slightly more activation when the hand is supinated (palms are turned outward). But truthfully, the more you supinate, the more you activate both heads. Also, it should be noted that the more that your elbow is out in front of your body, such as seen in a preacher curl move, the greater emphasis you will place on the short head, and the farther back, the more your long head will fire. But realize that the difference between the varying grips, according to the research, is less than 10% in activation patterns and is more influenced by range of motion, elbow position, and the weight being lifted. But in the interest of covering all of our bases and adding variety, we will utilize all variables.
TRICEPS FORM & FUNCTION
Contrary to the popular notion that flaring your elbows out during an exercise is a bad thing, a fully turned out elbow position is needed just as much as positioning them inward, especially if you want to involve all three heads of the triceps. Isolated dumbbell extensions, when performed with full range of motion, are superior for activating the long head. Pushing downward activates the lateral and medial shorter heads of the triceps, and adding a little outward twist, as can be achieved when using a rope, will give you that extra peak contraction.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
This program is split into two segments. The first is the initial three-hour workout (yes, three!), and the second is the ongoing training for the next four to six weeks, or even longer if your arms let you keep going. The rules are simple: Follow the first workout to the T and take the appropriate rest, and then throw the rule book in the trash to get down to some serious arm training each and every time arm day cycles around. But before you take the field, heed the following.
- Keep the load on the target muscles by using good exercise mechanics.
- Tame your urge to cheat on reps until you have gotten at least 80% of the way through your set.
- Lift lighter loads, focus on the reps, and squeeze tight when you get to the top of every rep.
- Since the biceps comprises two almost equally functioning muscles, and the triceps are composed of three, it is imperative to target each head in every session.
- Adopt the mantra that “no one exercise is better than another.” Why? Because you need them all in order to fully develop every last fiber within your arms. By specifically calling out one exercise over another, you may mistakenly omit something that limits your growth potential.
The first day of this program is an offshoot of the larger single-day “Inch in 24” routine—and it’s ridiculous. You pair one set of both a biceps and triceps exercise every five minutes brachioradialis for three hours. Effectively, you will get 36 sets per side, or 72 sets altogether. You’ll then take five to six days off—but no more than seven—before you begin the second part of this program.
You will hit your arms twice a week. Day 1 will focus more on strength and size. You’ll take slightly longer breaks between sets and use heavier weights to help establish that solid foundational muscle and build strong bonds between the connective network and the overall cellular protein structure. The second day will be more about emphasizing the peak, developing clean contractions, and focusing on muscle shape. But let’s get something straight: Neither day should be a walk in the park—light or heavy, your effort should be maxed.
FILL THE TANK
One other key factor that should not be overlooked when trying to build jackhammers for arms is your nutrition. Be sure to have adequate, if not copious, amounts of amino acids and protein before, during, after, and daily while you hit the weights with fury. On the initial workout of this program, mix at least 15–20g of BCAAs, as well as an additional 5–10g of glutamine into a huge water bottle and sip throughout your workout. If you can stomach 60–80g of total protein over the course of the workout, that may be a decent option instead. Also, don’t be afraid to take an extra scoop of creatine daily, as your muscles will benefit from added energy, more rapid recovery, and internal holding of vital liquids and nutrients. Don’t try to do this program while drastically cutting weight for competition. You will need your strength and energy.