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Giant Sets For Giant Arms

guy doing lying triceps extension

Want a trophy-winning set of biceps and triceps? Then it’s time to take a ride on the pain train with giant sets.

By Isaiah Rhodes, NSCA-CPT

Guys love training arms. Oftentimes, it’s the workout they look forward to the most. But this love of training biceps and triceps also can lead to contentment, leaving once beneficial routines to die the slow death of adaptation. Sure, you may mix in a few supersets here and there, which is great — training opposing muscle groups in this fashion is a time-tested method for seeing gains in strength and new muscular detail. But when was the last time you subjected these muscles to three or even four consecutive exercises? That’s right, folks … it’s time to resurrect the lactic-acid gauntlet of giant sets.

Performing multiple exercises in succession for a single muscle group creates an inordinate amount of muscle breakdown — the good kind that paves the way for crazy growth while you recover. In this workout, you’ll train bi’s and tri’s, but you’ll fully exhaust one group before moving on to the next. For most people, one of these groups is typically weaker than the other. Start with that one.

The biceps giant set takes you from a position of mechanical disadvantage to one at which you are stronger. You’ll fatigue along the way, to be sure, but by starting with the most difficult exercise and finishing with the easiest, it’ll all even itself out. The incline forces your underworked long, outer biceps head to work harder. The seated dumbbell curl reduces the tendency to cheat and hits the entire biceps complex. The standing version allows for a little body English as you fatigue. For your final move, you’ll target the short, inner head by taking a 30- to 45-degree forward lean for 10 reps.

Triceps are approached similarly sadistically. You’ll begin with an incline lying triceps extension, which places an additional stretch on your triceps’ meaty long head and injects an unforgiving constant tension for each rep. More traditional flat lying triceps extensions follow, and then you’ll transition into a compound move with the close-grip bench press. You’ll be thankful for the contributions of your delts and pecs at this point, we promise. Finally, you’ll set down the bar and cap off the giant set with 10 bodyweight bench dips.

Each of these giant sets will induce a tremendous burn within the muscle bellies and will provoke a skin-stretching pump, to boot. But by issuing this kind of merciless beatdown, your biceps and triceps will be sure to be on the grow.

Giant Sets

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