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Crank up the volume on your arm training with this 30-set bicep and tricep superset workout from Primeval Labs athlete and IFBB Pro Regan Grimes.
This workout consists of 3 supersets for the bis and tris, with each exercise being performed for 5 sets!
Be forewarned, this workout isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak-willed, but for those bold (crazy) enough to attempt it as well as those strong enough to survive it, your efforts will be well rewarded.
Not to mention, you’ll also get a savage muscle pump too!
Here’s Regan to take you through his workout:
Standing Dumbbell Curl: 12 reps
Tricep Rope Pushdown: 15 reps
Machine Preacher Curls: 8 reps
Machine Tricep Dips: 8-10 reps
Grimey Curls: 10-12 reps
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 12-15 reps
The barbell curl is the “heavy hitter” bicep exercise for many lifters, and if you’re wrists, elbows, and shoulders can handle it, have at it.
But for many lifters, having both hands locked into a fixed position on the barbell for the entire range of motion eventually leads to irritation in either (or both) the wrists and elbows.
That’s where dumbbell curls come in.
The advantage of training with dumbbells over barbells is that they allow your wrists the freedom to rotate naturally during the exercise as they are not confined to one position as they are with the barbell curl.
Moreover, dumbbells allow you to train each arm independently, which helps prevent or correct any imbalances that may develop when performing only bilateral movements.
Now, you may not be able to lift as much weight with the dumbbell curl as the barbell curl, but this is an isolation exercise. There’s no prize or competition for curling the most weight with a barbell.
Regan likes to perform tricep rope pushdowns as the first triceps exercise in his arm workout since they’re easy on the elbows. They also serve as a great warmup for the heavier triceps work to come and they pump a lot of blood into the tissues surrounding the elbow joint, providing a better “cushion” for the elbow.
Make sure to use slow, controlled reps when performing the exercise with a strong squeeze at the bottom position. This helps reinforce the mind-muscle connection and helps ensure your triceps are doing the work, and not the chest and shoulders.
Speaking of which, also make sure that you keep your elbows close to your sides during the pushdown. Allowing them to flare out from the sides of your body turns the exercise into one that hits the chest and shoulders, and not so much the triceps.
Machines catch a lot of flack from weight lifting purists as an “inferior” option for building muscle and strength. But, in some cases, machines might just be superior to their free weight counterparts.
Now, don’t get us wrong. You can and (will) build a lot of muscle and strength if you never used a machine once in your entire lifting career, and only used free weights.
So, there’s nothing that says you “have” to use machines to get results (just like you don’t have to use barbell back squats to build big legs).
But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from a combination of free weights and machines.
Machines offer several unique advantages not accomplished by free weights, and furthermore, some machine-based exercises are just better than their free weight alternatives.
Case in point, the curl.
When performing a dumbbell curl, the lift is hardest at the midpoint -- when your upper arm and forearm form a 90-degree angle.
As your forearm goes further away from the midpoint, the amount of tension placed on the biceps is reduced, and when you’re at the top and bottom of the curl, tension is minimal -- this is why you see lifters pausing at these two particular positions when trying to gather themselves and bang out another rep.
Machines and cables actually maintain constant and consistent tension on the working muscle throughout the entire range of the exercise, not just at a certain point.
More time under greater amounts of tension equals more work your muscles have to do to overcome the load, which culminates in better gains.
Regan performs the preacher curls using the 1.5-rep method for an increased time under tension as well as developing a stronger peak contraction, which helps build a bigger, better biceps peak.
Bench dips are another common exercise for adding mass to the triceps, but for all but the rank novice, they’re not very challenging (unless you stack a bunch of 45s on your lap). But even then, due to the internally rotated position of the shoulders on classic bench dips, they’re not the best for lifters with cranky joints.
Machine triceps dips allow you to move some seriously heavy weight while not having to place a bunch of heavy plates across your lap (and then figure out how to get the weights off when you’re fatigued).
And, most machines allow you to use a grip that’s most comfortable for your biomechanics and more friendly for shoulder health.
The Grimey Curl is Regan Grimes’ take on the traditional hammer curl. Instead of using a pair of dumbbells or rope attachment on a cable column, Regan performs these by grabbing onto the sides of a couple 45-pound plates.
If you gym has the type of weight plates that have handles, then it will be easier to really load up the weight on these. If not, you can still perform the exercise, but you’ll have to hold onto the sides of the plate as opposed to sticking your hands through the handles.
Either way, the Grimey Curl is an excellent hammer curl variation that helps develop the brachialis and brachioradialis, which helps develop thick, meaty forearms while also helping build a bigger bicep peak.
To finish off this 30-set tour de force arm workout, Regan performs the seated dumbbell overhead tricep extension.
Whenever you’re training your triceps, it’s important to include some type of overhead movement. The reason for this is that unlike the lateral and short head of the triceps, the long head crosses the shoulder joint and attaches to the scapula.
What this means is that in order to place a maximum stretch (and thus get a maximum contraction) on the long head of the triceps, you need to get your arm up and overhead.
The seated dumbbell overhead extension offers a great option for hitting the long head of the triceps (as well as the other two heads, since you can never really “isolate” one head over the others).
As we mentioned with other tricep exercises in this workout, make sure to keep your elbows in close to your sides, especially when performing overhead exercises, as allowing your elbows to flare out could place unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint.
If you’re a particularly muscular individual and performing the movement with both hands on a single dumbbell is too difficult, either perform the exercise with one arm at a time or perform the exercise with a rope attached to a cable column.