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’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: 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’ve been using the POF Direct/Indirect Mass Workout in the 4X 2.0 e-book. Doing great! I’m loving it and I feel much bigger already. But my arms are my weakest muscle groups, so I’m thinking about doing a second arm workout on Saturday. That would have me training five days a week instead of four. Is that okay?
A: That’s a great program—and because you’re using moderate-weight, growth-threshold training, you can tolerate more frequent work for most bodyparts; however… [Read more…]
Q: I love [3D Positions of Flexion training]. It makes sense and has helped me bring up my chest and delts with fewer sets. My question is about biceps. For the contracted-position exercise, which is best: one-arm spider curls or concentration curls? Or are they about the same?
A: In the X-traordinary Arms e-book we explain the in-for-out/out-for-in principle. For biceps that means that to focus on the outer head for peak, you use an inner-grip exercise. Concentration curls are about as “in” as you can get… [Read more…]
Q: I’m 55, so I appreciate that you have sections in Anabolic Reload and Stretch Overload for us old guys. My plan is to use the Pure-Positions Workout in Stretch Overload first for a few months, as it is slightly less traumatic. I like an all-isolation “contracted-position” day, all-midrange day, and an all-stretch day. My question is about no direct arm work on Wednesday, the all-midrange workout. I understand that the big exercises for chest and back train arms on that day, but my arms are a weak point. Can I add an exercise for bi’s and tri’s for more arm size?
A: Questions like this confirm our suspicions that many trainees get our ebooks and go right to the workouts—most don’t read the chapter text that goes with it… [Read more…]
Q: You guys are awesome! Anabolic Reload put a half-inch on my arms in less than a month. My arms have always lagged, so I’m blown away. I hit each muscle twice a week with about 12 sets. I didn’t want to reduce my sets on all, so I just did [STX] for arms. I started with the high-rep set followed by a heavy set, then I added a rest/pause every arm workout like the program says. My sleeves got tight almost immediately. Just want to thank you for getting my puny arms up bigger than they’ve ever been. I plan on trying this for each muscle through the winter. [Read more…]
Q: I notice you guys never really mention doing dips for triceps. I know Mike Mentzer said that the parallel bar dip is one of the best triceps exercises—and he had some big arms with some of the biggest, most vascular tri’s I’ve ever seen from the “moderate-steroid era.” Do you consider dips a good triceps move?
A: Dips can work well as a compound, or midrange, exercise for triceps—in place of close-grip bench presses, for example… [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