Military Monday: Time to Get ‘Armed’ and Dangerous

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Marine Corps vet Aaron Marks designed a brutal leg day workout in a previous Military Monday installment. Now, Marks has targeted your arms. The below routine combines a tried-and-true supersets, high volume, and a varied selection of biceps and triceps exercises to deliver a huge pump and a bigger pair of pipes.

Featured Trainer: Aaron Marks is a Marine Corps veteran who served four years as a machine gunner with 2nd BN, 8th Marines in Camp Lejeune, NC. Now living in Portland, OR, he’s also a programming adviser and athlete for Hard to Kill Fitness and a full-time member of the Bravo Sierra team.

Equipment Needed: Barbell, dumbbells, weight plate, cables, bench; if you don’t have a gym, this workout can also be done using resistance bands and heavy items at home (weighted backpack, a heavy rock, etc.).

Time Commitment: Around 45 minutes.

Workout Overview: There’s no better training technique on arm day than the classic superset, in which you perform two exercises back-to-back without resting. Because they’re opposing muscle groups, biceps and triceps are perfect for supersetting — when one is getting trained, the other is resting. This minimizes rest time, allowing you to get more work done in less time.

Marks’ workout consists exclusively of supersets – four pairings, eight exercises, totaling 16 to 20 sets each for biceps and triceps. Such high volume, combined with 10-rep and “to failure” sets, makes this a true muscle-building arm routine.

“This diverse and tactfully-designed arm workout won’t take you long, but rest assured you’re guaranteed to have a rewarding pump when you’re done,” says Marks. “What’s great about this workout is that you can complete it using dumbbells, a plate, or even resistance bands if you don’t have access to a gym. Whether you’re in a gym or your living room, you don’t need much to get it done.”

Aaron Marks’ ‘Hard to Kill’ Arm Supersets Workout

Warmup: Do five to 10 minutes of light cardio, followed by dynamic stretching for the upper body, before completing the following routine.

The Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curl 4-6 10
  • Superset with Close-Grip Push-Ups
4-6 To Failure
Hammer Curl 4-6 10
  • Superset with–Plate Hold
4-6 To Failure
Seated Dumbbell Curl 4-6 10
  • Superset with– Bench Dips
4-6 To Failure
Straight-Bar Pushdown 4-6 10
  • Superset with–Cable Curl
4-6 10

Rest Periods: Within supersets, don’t rest between the first and second exercise. After the second exercise in the superset, rest 60 to 75 seconds.

‘Hard to Kill’ Exercise Tips

  • Barbell Curl: If you don’t have a barbell available, use dumbbells or a resistance band instead.
  • Close-Grip Pushup: “Close-grip” signifies the hands being just inside shoulder-width on the floor, whereas a standard pushup is right at shoulder-width or slightly wider and a “diamond pushup” is hands touching.
  • Hammer Curl: This is a neutral grip dumbbell curl where the palms face in toward each other. Hold this “hammer” position throughout the set. If you don’t have dumbbells, resistance bands work well for hammer curls. If you’re using bands with handles at the ends, grab the band itself, which is more conducive to the hammer grip. If you’re training at a gym and want some variety, you can also do cable hammer curls using a rope attachment.
  • Plate Hold: Hold a 35- or 45-pound weight plate in each hand down in your fingers, arms extended at your sides. Hold the plates in this position as long as possible to work forearm and grip strength. If you don’t have plates, use a resistance band; stand on the band, hold the ends (or handles) in your fingers with tension on the band. Hold to failure.
  • Seated Dumbbell Curl: This exercise can be performed curling both dumbbells up at the same time, or one at a time and alternating every other rep.
  • Bench Dip: Place your hands on the bench at around shoulder-width (or slightly narrower) and keep your elbows in tight throughout. If you don’t have a bench, use a sturdy chair; if you don’t have that either, do diamond pushups, in which your index fingers and thumbs are touching to form a diamond shape.
  • Straight-bar Pushdown: The straight-bar attachment allows you to go slightly heavier than with a rope. If you don’t have cables, do pushdowns with a resistance band anchored to the top of a door or draped over a bar overhead.
  • Cable Curl: Use a straight- or EZ-bar attachment for this exercise. If you don’t have cables, use a resistance band.