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Primeval Labs athlete Parker Physique takes you through his killer biceps and triceps superset workout. Your arms aren't ready for the pump you'll get from this high volume workout!
Here’s the complete arm workout:
Internal / External rotations: 3 sets, 12-15 reps / arm
Triceps Pressdown: 4 sets, reps to failure
Dumbbell Curl w/ Fat Grips: 4 sets, reps to failure
Single-arm Cable Triceps Extensions: 4 sets, reps to failure
Hammer Curls w/ Fat Gripz: 4 sets, reps to failure
EZ-Bar Cable Curls: 4 sets, reps to failure
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension: 4 sets, reps to failure
Single-arm High Cable Curl: 4 sets, reps to failure
For these, Parker really likes to focus on the eccentric portion of the exercise to place extra stress on the muscle fibers. Using a slow and controlled eccentric also helps reinforce proper technique and helps ensure the triceps are taking the brunt of the load on the exercise.
Parker performs a few explosive reps at the end of every set to really burn out the triceps and stimulate the fast-twitch fibers.
As you noticed in the workout video, Parker is using a pair of Fat Gripz on the dumbbells.
If you’re not familiar with fat gripz, they are plastic sleeves that can be placed around the handle of a dumbbell, barbell, or any other straight bar that you might use during training (such as a chin up bar or the straight bar attachment on a pulldown).
The purpose of the fat gripz is to increase the thickness of your dumbbell handles. Grasping a thicker handle stimulates greater muscle activation in the hands and forearms as well as the biceps. And, as you’re likely well aware, more muscle activation on each rep leads to greater gains in muscle and strength.
Fat gripz also reduce the strain placed on your elbows, wrists, and shoulders as the pressure is more evenly distributed across your palms. The thicker circumference of the dumbbell handle also forces you to use lighter loads, which decreases the risk of injury.
However, since the fat gripz increase muscle activation you’re still able to create overload on the biceps, even when using a lighter weight than you typically would when performing dumbbell curls with standard handles.
As an added bonus, fat gripz also make the forearm extensors (the muscles on the top of the forearm) and forearm flexors (the muscles on the underside of your forearm) work similar amounts, which helps avoid weaknesses, imbalance, and injury. Quite often an imbalance between the forearm extensors and flexors can lead to pain felt in the elbow when performing bicep curls.
With all curls, make sure to flex the triceps at the bottom of every rep of curls. By flexing the triceps, you placing a maximal stretch on the biceps, which allows for maximum contraction when you begin your next rep.
Most lifters perform the single arm tricep extension by facing square to the cable column and extending the arm down and behind their body.
Parker puts a unique spin on the exercise, by turning his torso out and away from the cable column such that his non-working arm is next to the cable column and the working up has to go across his body and out.
Parker feels that this helps emphasize a different area of the triceps than what is emphasized when performing the exercise as it conventionally is.
As always, make sure to keep the upper arm in close to the body, as allowing it to drift away shifts the tension away from the triceps and onto the chest and shoulders.
Hammer curls are a great exercise for developing thicky, meaty forearms, but the addition of the Fat Gripz to the dumbbells makes it that much better as the muscles of the lower arm have to work that much harder to hold onto the dumbbells and lift them.
Hammer curls are also a more wrist-friendly curl variation for lifters who might be bothered by the typical barbell curl as hammer curls place the wrist in a neutral position, as opposed to being supinated or pronated.
Neutral grip movements also help build stability and strength in the muscles surrounding the wrist, which helps make you more resilient to strains and injuries of the wrist joint and ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue surrounding it.
As an added bonus, hammer curls also help train the brachialis, a highly underrated muscle in the overall appearance of the arms. The brachialis is a small muscle situated on the upper arm that lies under the biceps and assists the biceps with elbow flexion. Building up this muscle gives the illusion of a giant “knot” in your arm that helps create the appearance of greater definition between the biceps and triceps.
And, since it lies under the biceps, making the brachialis bigger helps push the biceps up, giving you a better biceps peak.
If you’re concerned with building the biggest, beefiest triceps possible, you should include some type of overhead tricep exercise.
While all the heads of the triceps are involved with elbow extension (and thus any movement in which the elbow extends stimulates all three heads of the triceps), only the long head of the triceps crosses the shoulder joint and attaches to the scapula.
The short head and lateral do not cross the shoulder.
What this means, is that in order to get a full stretch on the long head of the triceps, the arm needs to be up and overhead.
The reason it’s important to get a maximum stretch on a muscle is that a muscle is only capable of maximally contracting after its been placed on max stretch.
Therefore, if you want to get as much growth as possible on the long head of the triceps, you need to perform exercises where your arm is overhead.
Parker opts for the single-arm dumbbell overhead triceps extension to make sure each arm performs a similar amount of work. Very often when performing bilateral movements, one side of our body (the dominant side) tends to do just a bit more work than the other. This can lead to imbalances in both strength and size if it gets bad enough.
Incorporating unilateral exercises into your workout helps prevent or correct any imbalance that may develop.
Cables offer a unique advantage over free weights of keeping constant tension on the working muscles throughout the entire range of motion.
You see, at certain points of an exercise that uses free weights, the tension on the working muscles can vary. This is due to gravity.
Gravity only applies a downward force vector. However, as you curl a weight, its position relative to the downward pull of gravity changes, which means the amount of tension placed on your biceps changes.
At the midpoint of the curl (upper and lower arm forming a 90-degree angle), the lift is most difficult. However, on either side of the midpoint, the tension on the biceps is less than it was when your forearm was parallel to the ground.
Tension is at its lowest point on the biceps when your arm is fully extended at the bottom.
Using the cable machine places your biceps in a weighted stretch from the very beginning of the exercise, which increases the total time under tension and works your biceps have to perform -- a very good thing if you’re interested in growing bigger, stronger muscles.