This Art Zeller photo of Sergio Oliva taken in the ’60s is a true classic. Its motivational value is obvious. Can you imagine yourself out at a club playing pool with an arm like that hanging out of your polo shirt? Damn![Read more…]
Q: I’m into high-intensity training, doing one all-out work set per exercise. But I just read your 3D Muscle Building e-book and see the logic in Positions-of-Flexion mass training. Do you think I could combine the two and get good mass results doing one work set for each of the three positions for each bodypart? Like, for my quads, I would do squats (midrange), sissy squats (stretch), and leg extensions (contracted), one all-out set for each.
A: That’s an excellent way to get acquainted with the mass-building power of 3D POF. In fact, we’ve used a similar program over the winter years ago with good results. The only problem was that when motivation was low, which it can be when it’s cold outside, gains aren’t so great. To make that 3D triple HIT approach build muscle as quickly as possible, you have to be gung-ho and train every work set like it’s the last set of your life. Summer is probably a better time to lock in that mindset.[Read more…]
Q: I’m on The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout [pages 25-28 of that e-program], and I look and feel much bigger already. Thank you! My problem is that on some of the last isolated exercises I lose touch with the muscle, like on concentration curls for biceps. Arms have always been a problem area for me. Should I do a second double-drop Density set for that exercise?
A: Interesting that you should mention concentration curls, as we’ve found that getting the best Density effect on the contracted-position exercise for many muscles, like biceps, works best with a cable move.
What? Aren’t free weights best because they have more negative resistance due to zero weight-stack drag? Well, free weights are usually best for the big midrange exercises that trigger the max-force mass-building component—like presses and rows…[Read more…]
Q: I’m making great gains with 3D Positions of Flexion [training each bodypart through its midrange, stretch, and contracted positions], but my triceps still look small. I’ve noticed they have pretty good sweep from the side, but from the front, my arms look skinny. How should I alter my POF triceps program to address this problem?
A: Your medial and long triceps heads are getting the brunt of the work in your current arm program. You want to shift the focus of your triceps program to getting the outer heads as beefy as possible so they give your arms width when they’re viewed head-on. Here’s one of the triceps “width” routines from our X-traordinary Arms e-book (see note below about how to get this e-book)…[Read more…]
Q: I’m a big believer in your Positions-of-Flexion workouts. I have gotten more growth with that [3-exercise approach] than with anything I’ve tried. One exercise I often have a problem with is incline curls [the stretch move for biceps]. Is there a substitute?
A: Thanks for the POF props. A lot of trainees find the simplified 3-way full-range approach a logical way to more size and muscle fullness. It’s an efficient method for picking exercises to train a muscle completely with just a few exercises. You get muscle synergy, stretch overload, continuous tension/occlusion, and anabolic hormone release as well as full-range fiber activation…[Read more…]
Q: I’ve been training like a madman for six months, but my arms haven’t budged. I’m getting stronger, and I do see more veins on my biceps, but my arms are still skinny. A guy at the gym told me it’s because I have small bones. My wrists are under 7 inches around, and he said I can’t expect much size with small wrists. Is that true?
A: Um, in a word, NO. It’s not true. The size of your wrist has nothing to do with where your biceps and triceps attach, how much muscle-fiber density your muscles have, or your ability to pack on muscle mass.[Read more…]
Q: I have X-traordinary Arms and really appreciate the “in-for-out, out-for-in” rule. My question
A: Yes, switching the order of the exercises in Positions-of-Flexion protocol can positively affect a target-muscle’s development. Biceps is a perfect example.[Read more…]
Q: Help! I need more arm mass, and I’m hoping to add about an inch quickly. I’m using the Direct/Indirect 4X Mass Workout [pages 30-32]. It has only one direct arm workout a week [on Wednesday with delts]. Can I add some extra arm work on Friday when I train chest and back again?
A: Absolutely, but you don’t want to do full arm workouts on Friday’s chest/back day. Instead, we’ve found a couple of quick-hit two-move combos that will do the trick to get your arm mass up so they’ll be looking huge and thick. [Read more…]
Q: I’m following the arm-specialization programs in your X-traordinary Arms e-book (I ordered the Anabolic After-40 package to get it free!). I like starting my biceps workout with cable curls, as you suggest, because I can add X Reps at the end of the last set. Many of the pro bodybuilders say free weights are better for growth, so I’m worried I’m not getting the most size stimulation. Are free-weight barbell or dumbbell curls better?
A: Not necessarily. The only problem with cable curls is weight-stack drag, which makes the negative, or lowering, stroke slightly easier; however, you get much better continuous tension with a cable curl as opposed to barbell or dumbbell curls. That’s very important for max-growth stimulation. There’s also another BIG benefit… [Read more…]
Q: Before the start of my spring/summer job a month ago, my muscle development was progressing nicely. I was using your Positions of Flexion and X-Rep techniques on my three-days-a-week split: chest/bi’s, legs, and back/tri’s. My strength-and-size gains were steadily increasing. Then I started my summer job, and I was a lot sorer after my workouts, I take longer to recover, and I’m losing the size I had in my arms. The job is 40 hours a week of outdoor physical labor. I thought that by eating frequently with adequate protein and eight hours of sleep each night, I’d be fine, but that’s not working. Do you have any suggestions to help get me back on the muscle-building track, especially in the arm department?
A: A demanding physical-labor job can make it more difficult to grow, but not impossible. Even a high-pressure office job presents a similar problem: too much stress. It’s similar to being a hardgainer with low recovery ability and high cortisol output: You have to find the right balance and workload so you don’t overtrain, which means you sometimes have to cut back to grow.
As for your situation, we notice that while it appears you’re training each bodypart once a week on your split, that’s not really the case with arms…
When you do chest and biceps, you’re also training triceps during chest work—bench presses, etc. Then at the end of the week when you train back and triceps, you are also training biceps during back work (chins, pulldowns, etc.).
So you’re actually training arms hard and heavy twice a week, in addition to whatever you do at work, which may be why they are shrinking. Your arms are being hammered continuously with no time to recover.
First try altering your split as a way to cut back to grow: Day 1: back, biceps; Day 2: legs; Day 3: chest, triceps. If you don’t see results after a few weeks, cut back on your arm work. You may not need a full POF program for biceps and triceps, only the big midrange move plus one isolation exercise. So your anchor exercise for biceps would be barbell curls…
Do that for two sets, then follow up with one or two sets of the stretch-position exercise, incline curls…
The following week do two sets of the big midrange exercise again, but follow with one or two sets of a contracted-position exercise for biceps, like concentration curls…
That’s Split-Positions training—you still hit all three Positions of Flexion but over two workouts instead of all at one session. Here’s how your arm programs would look:
Midrange: Barbell curls 2 x 9
Stretch: Incline curls 1 x 12
Midrange: Barbell curls 2 x 9
Contracted: Concentration curls 1 x 12
Midrange: Decline extensions 2 x 9
Stretch: Overhead extensions 1 x 12
Midrange: Decline extensions 2 x 9
Contracted: Kickbacks or pushdowns 1 x 12
Feel free to substitute exercises and/or manipulate the set totals. For example, you may be able to handle two sets on the second exercises or maybe a drop set. You’ll have to experiment and monitor your recovery and hypertrophic adaptations to get the right mix of how much to cut back to grow (without cutting back too far), but the above is a good place to start to get your growth into gear.
Note: There’s more on Split-Positions training in Chapter 10 of the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book, including a complete Split-Positions mass workout program.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson