Total-Body Arm Training

Categorized under Training

Bodybuilding veteran Scott Abel has a radical plan to turn arm
day into the best fat-burning workout of the week.

If you do traditional body-part training, you probably have an
“arm day in your routine. But there’s a problem
with arm day: You may get some muscle-building response in the
muscles you’re targeting, but there’s hardly any
metabolic effect. In terms of conditioning, arm day is pretty much
a day off for your body.

Here’s why that’s an issue: Neural drive — your
body’s ability to recruit the largest and most powerful motor
units — is actually stronger during a fatiguing workout. This
not only increases your ability to overcome fatigue, it makes
targeted training to specific muscles even more
effective.

Let me say that again because it’s unlikely you’ve
heard it before: When you train to recruit high-threshold motor
units in a fatigued state, you achieve better neural drive and more
efficient overload.

Good news for hard-gainers and hard trainers, bad news for the
lazy types.

The following workouts combine total-body conditioning, core and
movement work, and pure arm training. It’s meant to fit into a
traditional five-day body-part split — three days on, one day
off, two days on, one day off. I often use this kind of arm
training with bodybuilders who’re peaking for a show. If we do
it early in the dieting stage, it enhances metabolic response,
allowing them to get leaner faster, with less calorie reduction and
while retaining more muscle mass.

You can do either of these workouts on arm day, or alternate
them from one week to the next. Just make sure you always do your
arm training on the same day. And be prepared — this one will
knock you on your ass if you aren’t ready for
it.

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Scott Abel

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Workout 1

Do two warm-up sets of the first exercise.
1A) Barbell walking cheat curls
Sets/reps: 6 x 8-10

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1B) Alternating chopper sit ups
Sets/reps: 6 x 10-15 (each side)

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2A) Alternating dumbbell biceps curls
Sets/reps: 4 x 8-10 (each arm)
2B) Dumbbell alternating plank pull-ins
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-12 (each side)

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3A) Machine preacher curls
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-12
3B) Rocky abs
Sets/reps: 4 x max

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4A) One-arm Zottman curls
Sets/reps: 3 x 12-15 (each arm)

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4B) Elevated medicine-ball plank holds
Sets/reps: 3 x slow count to 30

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5A) Machine triceps dips
Sets/reps: 4 x 8-10
5B Alternating lunges with front reach
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each leg)

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6A) Cable overhead rope extensions
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15
6B) Alternating lateral lunges with reach
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each leg)

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7A) Cable one-arm triceps pushdowns
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each arm)
7B) Alternating lunges to rear with reach
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each side)

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8A) Cable reverse-grip one-arm pushdowns
Sets/reps: 4 x 15 (each arm)
8B) Dumbbell overhead lockout holds
Sets/reps: 4 x slow count to 30

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You’ll notice that the core and conditioning exercises
become more fatiguing as you move through the workout, while the
triceps movements become more targeted and isolated. The goal is to
take advantage of the fatigue while increasing neural drive to the
arms.

On the conditioning exercises — the functional movements
— you make progress three different ways. First, increase the
speed of your movement. Second, increase the range of motion.
Third, add more weight.

Workout 2

Do two warm-up sets of the first exercise.

1A) Standing barbell curls
Sets/reps: 6 x 8-10
1B) Diamond push-ups, hands on medicine ball, elbows
wide
Sets/reps: 6 x 10-max

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1C) Medicine-ball vertical choppers
Sets/reps: 6 x 10-15

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2A) Dumbbell one-arm preacher curls
Sets/reps: 4 x 8-10 (each arm)
2B) Reverse triceps push-ups (fingers turned outward), feet on
Swiss ball

Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15

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2C) Swiss-ball step-offs
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each leg)

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3A) Standing overhead curls, with tubing or cable
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15

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3B) Swiss-ball plyometric impact push-up, hands close
together

Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15

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3C) Barbell wide rotations
Sets/reps: 4 x 10 (each side)

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4A) Alternating hammer curls
Sets/reps: 4 x 10-12 (each arm)
4B) Alternating sit-ups off Bosu ball, elbow to
knee

Sets/reps: 4 x max (each side)

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5A) Lying triceps extensions (barbell or
dumbbells)

Sets/reps: 4 x 6-8
5B) Dumbbell alternating lunges with front reach, from
step

Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each side)

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6A) Dumbbell one-arm triceps extensions on Swiss
ball

Sets/reps: 4 x 8-10 (each arm)
6B) Dumbbell alternating lunges with posterior reach and upright
row

Sets/reps: 4 x 10-15 (each side)

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7A) Cable overhead rope extensions
Sets/reps: 4 x 12-15
7B) Dumbbell alternating lateral lunges with reach and
press

Sets/reps: 4 x 12-15 (each side)

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If you’re wondering why I switched from trisets (A, B, and
C exercises) to traditional supersets (A and B exercises only),
it’s because the metabolic exercises toward the end of the
workout include extra movements, like a row or press. That takes
the place of the third exercise.

No matter how many exercises are included in each complex, try
to move as quickly as you can from one to the next. When you finish
all the exercises in the triset or superset, monitor your breathing
to decide when to begin the next one. You want to remain in a
noticeably fatigued state throughout the training session, which
should last about 70 to 85 minutes.

How fatigued you get, and how fatigued you remain during the
workout, will vary from week to week. Pay attention to your body
and follow the cues it gives you. On days when it’s just not
there, you need to dial it back a bit. Otherwise, dial it up by
moving faster between exercises, taking less recovery between sets,
and progressing on the metabolic exercises as I described.

I call this “keeping it alive” — the more
carefully you listen to your body and abide by its instructions,
the more you’ll get out of your programs in the long
term.