When I first began training over 20 years ago, many things were the same then as they are now. There were plenty of bad workout programs, and plenty of people “just working out” instead of following a training program.
A lot hasn't changed.
And, yet, a lot has. Training advice is more readily available in our internet age, for better or for worse.
For better because there is a lot of really sound advice that can be found, assuming of course that you want to actually listen (or read) sound advice. For instance – and not to toot my own horn, so to speak – I would have loved, when I first started lifting, to have an ever-present blog such as this one at my fingertips.
For worse because any Tom, Dick, or Harry can now be an “expert” even though he/she may have very little knowledge. But I think, overall, that the pros more than outweigh the cons.
Also, even though it is often said that there is nothing new under the bodybuilding sun, training knowledge really has “improved” in the past 20 years.
Despite this improvement, and this vast amount of knowledge that is available to eager lifters, it seems as if many people still follow haphazard training programs, unaware just how bad their programs are and will forever be if they don’t decide to do something about it.
This is probably never more evident than when training arms. Arms are still (I assume) the most popular bodypart(s) for bodybuilders and recreational lifters to train. (I say “I assume” because I never make it to recreational gyms any longer, and I rarely train more than a handful of lifters at a time – if that much. And the ones I do train are ones that I choose to train. They are guys who are more concerned with increasing the numbers on their core lifts and increasing their work capacity than they are in just “getting bigger” – arms included. And, to be honest, I never cared much for training arms myself. Having said that, I have probably written as much about training arms than I have written articles about getting stronger on the core lifts. This is because there is still plenty of interest about how to get bigger arms, and there is still plenty of misinformation out there.)
So here I am, once again writing an arm training article – albeit a very short one. What follows is one of the more cutting-edge workouts you can perform – whether we’re talking arm training or any other bodypart. It must be said before continuing further, that what follows is also the kind of workout that I find the most enjoyable when training arms.
Descending and Ascending Weight Ladder Training
For this style of training start with (after warm-ups) a weight that is around 95% of your maximum for a single. After doing your first single, rest a few minutes, strip off about 5% of the weight, and perform a double. Rest a few more minutes, strip off some more weight and perform a triple. Rest a few more minutes, strip off more weight, and do a set of 4 reps. Repeat the process for the next set of 5 reps.
Once you have sufficiently rested after your first ladder, reverse the process by adding weight and working back up to another single. Perform however many series of descending and ascending ladders that you want. I personally wouldn’t do more than 4 series for a total of 20 sets, especially if you’re going to be training other bodyparts at the same time (something I recommend).
You can also alternate exercises, doing an exercise for, say, your triceps followed by one for your biceps. Or, you could do an exercise for your biceps, then follow it with a “core” pressing movement, such as flat bench presses or overhead presses.
A typical workout could look something like this:
Barbell curls: 5 sets of 1,2,3,4, and 5 reps
Bench presses: 5 sets of 1,2,3,4, and 5 reps
Barbell curls: 5 sets of 5,4,3,2, and 1 rep
Bench Presses: 5 sets of 5,4,3,2, and 1 rep
Repeat for however many series your strength level can handle and properly recover from
If your arms can handle it, you could even do agonizing exercises at the same time, such as barbell curls alternated with chins, but only do this if you have the strength and work capacity to handle it.