Q: I got all of your e-books, which are absolutely fantastic by the way, and in 3D Muscle Building I notice that your arm workouts are very short. I’m interested in sky-high biceps, but I’m worried that four or five sets once a week isn’t enough. If I want to specialize, should I add more sets?
A: While everyone’s work capacity and recovery ability are different, keep in mind that a recent study showed that only three sets of barbell curls deplete more than 70 percent of the glycogen stores in the biceps. And that exercise is lacking continuous tension!
If you’re familiar with our 3D mass-building approach, you know that we follow that midrange exercise (barbell curls) with a stretch-position movement and then a continuous-tension contracted-position exercise, with some X Reps or X-hybrid techniques thrown in for good measure (and bigger measurements!). Once you try it, you’ll see that with that kind of efficient, precise program, it doesn’t take a lot of volume to completely annihilate the target muscle.
And speaking of measures and measurements, keep in mind that Jonathan’s arms measure over 19 inches, and that’s without steroids and after using brief 3D workouts. Here’s that shot of his arm being measured that we’ve run before (it’s a shot of motivation)…
For those who are new to 3D POF, it’s basically training a muscle through its three specific arcs of flexion so you accomplish full-range, max-fiber recruitment with minimal sets. For example, for biceps you’d do barbell curls for midrange work, incline curls (reclining on an incline bench) for stretch and concentration curls for continuous-tension, contracted-position work.
With those three exercises you train the biceps in a range when they are back behind the torso (stretch; incline curls), in a range when your arms are slightly in front of your torso (midrange; barbell curls) and a range when your arms are out and up close to your head (contracted; concentration curls). Those three exercises cover the biceps full arc of flexion—and it only takes one or two sets in each position to get full, dense biceps development…
So if you start with two sets of curls, you then move to incline curls for stretch overload for one set, and finish with one or two sets of concentration curls for continuous-tension. That will deplete most of the glycogen from the biceps, activate the majority of the growth fibers, and set the stage for super size…
Since you’ve read all of our e-books, you know the 3D approach gives you max-force production, occlusion (blood-flow blockage, which has been shown to significantly increase size and strength) and stretch overload (which has been linked to hyperplasia, or fiber splitting—the bird-wing study that increased muscle mass by 300 percent in one month).
Throw in X Reps and/or X hybrid techniques, and you supercharge that program and, for most, create the need for more recovery. That’s why we’re experimenting with training each bodypart once a week with our version of Eric Broser’s Power/Rep Range/Shock program (outlined on pages 103-114 in 3D MB). Keep in mind that biceps get hit indirectly during back training on another day during the week, so technically they are getting trained more than once a week.
By the way, one of Arnold’s favorite biceps programs was barbell or dumbbell curls, incline dumbbell curls and concentration curls. Sound familiar? And his biceps weren’t good—they were incredible! Yes, he had good genetics, but he also knew instinctively that those three exercises were very powerful when used together. In case you’ve forgotten just how good Arnold’s biceps were, here’s a shot IM publisher John Balik took back in the ’70s…
That should motivate the heck out of you! Try our 3D biceps program and see what you think.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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