Here are the best principles for arm training:
- OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE: In order to force a muscle to become larger and stronger, you must continually overload it with increasingly heavier weights. So when you see favourites doing barbell curls with 225 pounds or knocking out lying triceps extensions with nearly 300 pounds, you can understand how the overload principle develops massive arms. Remember, those bodybuilding greats took a long time to build those poundages, but they kept adding weight to keep gaining muscle.
- CHEATING PRINCIPLE: Most bodybuilders train to failure with each set in their arm workouts, but the ones with biggest arms invariably train past the point of normal failure. The easiest way to do this is to first take a set to failure, then use just enough of a cheat to boost the bar past the sticking point, after which you slowly lower the weight back to the start. Two or three cheating reps at the end of a set are adequate to encourage gains.
- FORCED REPS PRINCIPLE: Forced reps provide you with a more precise way than cheating to continue a set past failure. Simply have a training partner pull up in a balanced way on the bar, with just enough force to allow you to pass a sticking point and eke out two or three forced reps. You can maintain stricter form if your partner removes the right amount of stress than if you try to do the reps alone by cheating. The difference between the two techniques is that forced reps require that you have a training partner available.
- DESCENDING SETS PRINCIPLE: This method, also called stripping, is similar to forced reps, but requires two training partners to actually remove plates from the bar. Load the barbell with plenty of loose plates, but don’t lock on the collars. Stand erect and do about six strict reps or barbell curls to failure. Your partners should then strip 10-15 pounds from each end of the bar to allow you two or three more reps, then strip off additional weight for a final two or three reps. This principle was a favourite of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.
- REST-PAUSE PRINCIPLE: This is the ultimate principle to build mass and power in any muscle group, and you don’t need a training partner to use it. Prepare a barbell with a weight heavy enough to allow only three or four strict reps of barbell curls. Place the bar across a flat exercise bench, then pick it up and do as many strict reps as possible. At failure, place the bar back on the bench and take a 10-15 second rest-pause to allow your biceps to partially recuperate. Pick up the bar again and do as many reps as possible in strict form, which would perhaps be only two or three. Take another rest-pause, then force out a final one or two super intense reps. With rest-pause training, you probably won’t need more than two or three sets for each arm muscle group.