Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by
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If you’re looking for bigger bi’s and tri’s, it may be time to explore unconventional approaches to your arm training
First of all, thanks — I appreciate that. Until this year, I felt they were one of my problem areas, but they responded pretty well to what I started doing. Before every workout, no matter which bodypart I train, I do 1-2 exercises, 3-4 sets each of biceps and triceps to get some blood flowing to those muscles and to break down some additional tissue during the workout. This allows me to get some extra work for these
bodyparts without really overtraining them. I started doing that last year in the offseason. As far as building peaks like this, the shape is the shape — that’s genetic. But you can change the size and once you get leaner, you show a bit more definition.
You don’t always have to start out with barbell curls — no one can progress forever doing the same exercise first. Today I typically start out with standing dumbbell curls. To be honest, I can’t stand them, but by doing them you let each individual biceps generate more force to pull the weight.
Also, you let each side adapt itself and put itself into the best position to move the most weight possible. When you do barbell curls, you’re locked into a position that may not be ideal for each arm and allows little variation in arm position. Doing exercises unilaterally, where my arms don’t have help from the other, has helped me greatly.
The answer is a combination of both. Genetically, my triceps are a lot stronger than my biceps. I can even do 315 pounds with skullcrushers. You have to worry if you’re only isolating with pressdowns because you’re limiting the amount of weight you can use. Use heavy compound movements (dips are multijoint movements whereas most triceps exercises like pressdowns are single-joint moves) to challenge your triceps further. If you just do compound movements, then whatever head is the strongest is going to get the biggest and the other ones will fall behind. So single-joint moves have their place too.
I like to shock my tri’s into new growth by doing giant sets. We begin by performing 5-6 exercises in a row, without rest, from a variety of angles. Then we rest 45 seconds and do it all over again. It’s tough but that’s why it’s called “giant.” It’s very rigorous work; maybe that’s one reason not many people in the gym are doing them! The triceps are a relatively small muscle group and your body can become accustomed to the movements relatively quickly. As such, shocking your muscles with something new and different has to be made a priority. Try something unfamiliar to make them sore.

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