5 Of My Favorite Arm Exercises (Workout Included!)

Summer is around the corner which means the t-shirts and tank tops will be making an appearance. Let’s start working on those arms to make sure you’re looking good by the pool!

I’m a meathead at heart so of course I always have some workouts ready for an extra arm day here and there. There are a couple main things I have learned about training my arms that have made a huge difference.

  1. Using a progressive overload method will almost always win in the long run.
  2. It’s not always about the pump, but the pump is nice to see and motivates you.
  3. There is a time to heave the weight up and arm training is about 90% the opposite. Make sure you work form strictly.
  4. Don’t be afraid to hit arms heavy here and there.
  5. Increase frequency to increase size and strength.
  6. Don’t forget the triceps!! The triceps take up about 2/3 of the arm.

I will write an article on arm training and include these but for now lets get to what you want… the exercises and workout!

Exercise #1 The cheat curl

This is a classic exercise used back in the golden era bodybuilding days to really create some mass. I have learned a couple twist and tweaks to make it even better!

Start with a straight barbell and load it to a desired weight. Take an underhand grip right outside shoulder width and unrack it. Curl it up, as the bar gets a little heavy, you can use your body to get a little momentum helping the bar go up. (Don’t over extend your lower back, that is how you can hurt yourself.) Once you get the rep to the top, squeeze your bicep and when you go to let the bar down, we are going to take it down nice and slow, preferably about 4 seconds on the way down. The muscle damage happens during the eccentric portion of the lift or in this case, when you lower the weight.

This is an exercise I usually try to work a little heavier in weight with. This will really help build some mass for your biceps.

Exercise #2 Close grip bench

This in my opinion is almost the same effect for your triceps as the cheat curl is for the biceps. This is another exercise I tend to work a little heavier in to overload the triceps.

Set up on a bench just like a standard bench press, except instead of taking your normal grip width, bring the grip into about shoulder width. (Picture of my setup shown below) Take the bar and wrap your hand around it, unrack weight and bring it down just like a bench press. The main difference is that your grip will be closer and your elbows will come down by your sides closer than a normal bench. You can do touch and go reps or pause reps if desired.

My close grip bench setup

This is a great exercise to add some size to your triceps and add strength to get a stronger bench press.

Exercise #3 Bench dips

This makes my list because I love loading up with weight to increase the difficulty. Standard dips can be a little stressful on my shoulders at times so this is another variation that you can use to hit your triceps.

Start by going to a flat bench and sit on the side. Bring your hands in to your sides so that your thumb is right underneath the butt when you are sitting down. That is the width I use to really target the triceps. From there, walk out your legs or put your legs on another bench a few feet away from you. This will leave you in a starting position with your body being held up by your arms. Your arms will start to bend and you will descend into a dip. Don’t go to far forward during your dip as this can stress the shoulders. Think about keeping your back sliding along the side of the bench as you go into your dip. When you get your arms to about 90 degrees (depending on your mobility) you will use your triceps to push yourself back up to complete the rep.

I have always noticed that when I include this exercise, my arms look more defined and my bench is stronger than usual.

Exercise #4 Overhead tricep extension

The tricep anatomy. Picture is from http://www.physio-pedia.com

The overhead tricep extension is a great exercise that has a solid purpose. Your tricep is composed of three muscles, hence “tri”. One of the muscles called the tricep brachii or the long head of the tricep connects to the scapula. (Shown here with a circle) That is important to remember when we use the tricep to function. We can really hit the long head when we lift the arms overhead for an exercise like this when we use an extension of the elbow.

I love using this exercise to hit the tricep and add some nice looking definition to my arm.

Exercise #5 The preacher curl

I couldn’t do this list and not add this exercise. This is one of the main exercises a lot of people do in the gym just because the machine is there and easy to use. I love this exercise because it can really help you isolate the bicep without cheating the rep. This adds a lot of stress to the biceps, in a positive way.

This exercise hits what is called the brachialis and the biceps brachii. This exercise can put immense tension on the biceps so be sure to warm up with lighter weight for 1-2 sets before adding anything heavier.

You can add this in for a finisher at your gym if it is a machine and switch weight a lot faster!

The Workout

Time for the workout… We learned what each exercise does and how to do it if you watched the videos. Now let me go over a few important side notes to ensure you have a solid arm workout.

Cheat curls and close grip bench should be a little heavier but still make sure you have good form. For the overhead extensions, I want you to do 1-2 warm up sets to get the joints ready for the movement. After that I want you to start with a heavy weight that you can control for about 10-15 reps. Do your reps TILL FAILURE then rack that weight. Immediately pick up 5-10 pounds less and go till failure again. Now do that same thing 2 more times so you end up with a total of 4 sets right back to back with each other. This is a great arm finisher just make sure you either have a spotter or have a spot to drop the weight safely if you are able to do so.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed creating it! Please give me feedback and let me know how you liked this article and if you want to see more post like this!

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Have a great day!!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday (Chest and Back Pump)

Welcome to another Workout Wednesday! Today we are hitting chest and back! We are going to use the “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes” technique that we saw in yesterdays post.

Start this workout with a good warm up. Here is an example warm up I would perform before this workout:

Bike – 5 minutes
Shoulder swings – 10 each way, 20 total
Band pull aparts – 2 x 15
Push ups – 2 x 10

Now that we have a warm up in, lets get started with 3 sets of pull ups till failure. If you can not do a pull up, do assisted pull ups if possible for at least 8-10 reps each set. If you have no access to assisted pull ups, do lat pull downs. Set the weight stack to your body weight and do as many as possible.

After that comes the dumbbell bench presses. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post on the 3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes then check it out so it all makes sense for you. You will do 2-3 sets with 60 seconds of rest after a whole set is complete.

We are making our way to the cable machine after for some reverse cable flys to target our rear delts.

Picture was used from google images.

We will then hit seated cable rows with a close grip. We will start heavy and decrease the weight as the reps increase. The catch here is that after every set you complete, switch weight and get right back to work. This will pump the back up before you leave the gym.

All in all, this workout should be something you can complete in 30-40 minutes if you get to work and don’t get distracted. This will be a solid workout though, use your better judgment for the weights you pick. Do something challenging but nothing that will break down form.

Try this one out next time you go to the gym and let me know what you think! Have a good Wednesday!

-Alex Costa-

3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes

Click here for the video!

I was in the gym experimenting with a few exercises and training methods these past couple weeks and I feel like I have struck gold with some of these. I want to share one of them with you today! I have tried this with some clients and they have a love/hate feeling for this one haha. I call it “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes”. If you are tight on your schedule then this could be a great tool for you to use or if you’re looking to add in extra volume or just get a solid pump, this will most definitely get the job done!

I am a huge fan of hitting a muscle from different angles but it can take up quiet some time during training if you are doing a few sets of 10 reps. Nothing wrong with that approach at all but here’s a method that can take far less time and increase the total work volume put in during your workout which in turn can create more muscle damage (in a positive way).

As you can see, to the left I have a picture of the pectoralis major muscle. I wanted to show you this so you can see how the muscle fibers run. The muscle fibers run laterally and insert into the top of the humerus. As we do our incline angle it will target what I have marked in the blue. As we take the bench angle down to a flat bench it will target more of the red area. Then the decline angle we finish with will help target the green area.

As you can see, we can manipulate this exercise to target different areas of the chest. After 1 set your chest will be begging for a break. If you think you can handle a little bit of a challenge try it for 2-3 sets total. Take 1 minute of rest after one whole set is complete. Afterwards I would target a different muscle to ensure to you do not overwork that muscle for the session.

Another key note to take into thought is to properly warm up the body and chest/shoulders to make sure your body is ready for the workout. This is a little more intense so if you are a beginner and have never lifted weights before, I would start off by breaking this down into 2 x 10-15 reps at each bench angle for a few weeks then start with 1 set of the 3 bench angles in 3 minutes and gradually increase sets to 2-3 as you get the feel for it.

I hope you like this one! Try it out and give me your feedback. Have an awesome day!

-Alex Costa-

I’m Competing In The OPBA Competition!!

The OPBA (Ohio Power Bodybuilding Association) is a unique competition created by a couple guys in my area. They have only done a little handful of shows so it is still new and growing! This type of competition is interesting as a competitor because you are not just do a bodybuilding show and not just doing powerlifting, you are doing both, back to back days on the same weekend. Programming for this and dieting can be a challenge. You really have to try to learn what works best for your body.

I have been prepping for about 7 weeks now, so I am doing about a full 10 week prep all together. I have used this prep to experiment with some new training/diet methods. One new thing I have been testing out is carb cycling which I will explain more in a different post.

I am excited to try something new, honestly I have been wanting to try this competition out for the last couple times but now it’s time to go for it! I’ll be sharing more content based off of what I am doing to get ready for the competition. Can’t wait!

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday – Arm Pump


Happy Hump Day, time for another Workout Wednesday! Today we will be hitting arms. I did this a couple weeks ago and got a solid pump, one of the best arm workouts I have had in a little while. So give it a try!

*If you don’t know how to do some of the exercises, I should have them all in my Vault of Gainz page on my website –>https://costafitness.org/workout-page/

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

What’s The Best Day to Visit The Arnold?

What's The Best Day to Visit The Arnold?.png

It’s a common question that is always asked about the Arnold Classic. “Which day is best to go?” Well I have my opinions that I will be sharing with you today! I hope this helps some of you to have a great time at the largest fitness expo in the world.

With today being the first day a lot of people are going to the Arnold, I wanted to post this a little early in the day so you can get an idea of how each day is.

Friday

I kind of look at Friday like the one day right in the middle. It’s not slammed but it’s usually not as busy as Saturday. 

Pros

  • Basically guaranteed samples wherever you go
  • almost all competitions are set at lower times or numbers. Ex, the pull up contest is lower the first day but by Sunday, that number may be like 50. That means it is easier to win prizes.

Cons

  • Pretty long lines
  • Not all athletes will be there just yet

Saturday

Well this is the day to go if you like to stand in lines lasting about 2 hours and like walking 10 miles cause of your parking spot. This is a solid day if you really want to meet like 1 or 2 people in the fitness industry. Everyone and their grandma is there on this day.

Pros

  • Pretty much everyone is there, celebrities, athletes and all the big booths are loaded
  • This day is a lot of fun, especially if you have a group of friends

Cons

  • Long walk for parking
  • Booths take forever
  • Feet cramps, well maybe that’s just me haha
  • Probably get to see only 2-5 celebrities max if you are hustling

Sunday

Pros

  • You get all the leftover samples
  • Get through most lines pretty quickly
  • Not as many people as Saturday

Cons

  • Most athletes and celebrities are starting to head out
  • Some booths are sold out of items
  • A lot of booths pack up early

Tips:

  • Park a few blocks away and take a bus. It may cost a few bucks but way easier and better than a $20 parking spot. Usually they are all taken anyway. I did this last year and it wasn’t too bad.

 

  • Take a book bag of some kind for all the supplement samples you get. They give you bags there at almost every booth so don’t feel like you have to but I personally like to.

 

  • Go with a friend! It’s way less stressful plus you have someone to talk to while your waiting 2-3 hours to see some of your favorite athletes and brands.

 

  • Wear comfortable shoes. I can’t stress this enough, but it should be a given. You are taking about 10,000 steps I’m guessing in this day maybe even more. The last thing you want is a blister on your foot during this event.

 

  • Grab an expo directory. This has all booths listed and where they are so you’re not looking for 1 booth for an hour. This sometimes tells you when events are like strong man events and other competitions.

 

  • Wear something comfy. I get that you want to look good for all the chicks or dudes but look you’re on your feet for like 10 hours and walking probably about 10,000 steps. You’ll probably break a sweat because of how many people can be packed in walking shoulder to shoulder with each other. For me, I hate wearing something that I won’t be comfortable in. I would recommend wearing a comfy pair of shorts, sweats or jeans with a nice comfy shirt. On the other hand, Ohio weather tends to suck monkey butt each year around this time so bring warm clothes for outside cause this year will be a little cold out and rainy.

 

  • PRE ORDER TICKETS. I used to get mine from Kroger but I don’t think they sell them anymore. You should be able to get them on the official website for the Arnold Classic. They are usually about $15-$20 for a normal ticket, but also have VIP passes available as well. This will save you money and a lot of time!

 

 

In my personal opinion, I have found that visiting the Arnold on Sunday is the best experience overall. It is not as busy as Saturday and you get so much free stuff! This is what a lot of people want though is the samples. If you want to meet someone and get pictures then I would go Saturday cause they sometimes aren’t there on Friday yet and leave by Sunday. Saturday is the best time to go and meet a couple people.

I hope everyone going has a great time full of amazing memories that will last a lifetime. Some serious motivation can be created at something like this so if you need some motivation to get healthier or create a fitness goal then I would definitely go to this huge event!

Have a great Friday and enjoy the weekend!
-Alex Costa-

What Shoes Should You Train In?

In todays video, I will be talking about what shoes you should train in, why you should train in them and what they will help with the most. I hope this video helps you out on what shoes to wear when training! I’ll catch you tomorrow with another video.

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

My Favorite Quad Exercise

Everyone enjoys having a nice set of quads wether you are a guy looking to have a complete physique or a girl trying to have a nice set of legs. I want to show you all one of my absolute favorite quad exercises. I will also dig into some history of this exercise as well as some anatomy. With no further ado, lets jump into todays article!

I’m sure you have all heard of the exercise called a sissy squat. When you hear this name and don’t know what the exercise is then you may overlook this due to its name. However I want to show you why you should be incorporating this exercise into your training!

Lets start with a basic anatomy session of the quadriceps.
The quads are made up of 4 main muscles (quad = 4). These muscles are the rectus femoris, which is the top, front muscle. It is hard to isolate, this muscle is more visible through less body fat. Then we have the vastus intermedius which is deeper underneath the quad muscles, directly below the rectus femoris. The vastus lateralis is the quad muscle that is located on the outside of the quad. Building this can add that wide look to the front leg. Lastly, we have the vastus medialis which is the inside tear drop looking muscle. The function of these muscles is to extend the knee.

 

quads

We, as humans, are more quad dominate based off of how live life. We spend a lot of time walking and not always working hamstrings and other posterior chain muscle group. With that being said, it does not mean you have to work hamstrings all day. Though I try to split up leg training evenly such as hitting quads and hamstrings about the same when it comes to sets, reps and days worked. If you have a muscle imbalance, then the easiest solution usually tends to be targeting the antagonist muscle group. I’ll save that for a different day.

For anyone not familiar with Tom Platz, his leg development was just spectacular. He was a old school bodybuilder around the 80’s.

tom platz This is Tom Platz and his ginormous quads.

This man was brutal with his leg training and tried many different things. One exercise he came across was the sissy squat. He would make different variations of the sissy squat like doing the bottom of that movement during a hack squat like the image below.

hack squat

One of the main people I follow that made me want to do this exercise was Julian Smith. He is a modern day bodybuilder that has some amazing total leg development as well.

julian smith

This exercise gets soooooooo much hate. I can see why some think this UNTIL I tried it! Now listen, if you have knee issues or are prone to knee injuries then play it smart and skip this for now. On the other hand, if you have healthy knees and think you can handle it then I most definitely recommend trying this exercise for a few weeks. The reason I say a few weeks is because it take a few weeks to get the movement down and perform it right. It may be a little tough for your knees to get used to at first. THIS IS NORMAL, you are asking your body to do a non-functional movement that most of us have never done before. This is why I say try it for a little while because at first, I thought it would be an exercise I would throw to the side but I use this quiet often to help me grow the quads and get the separation to make the quads look nasty!

With all of this history talk and anatomy, lets get into how to perform the sissy squat! I have a short video of me going over the exercise right here below. Just hit play, learn and try it out next leg day!!

 

Thank you for viewing todays article! If you have any questions then leave comments below. If you have tried this exercise, tell me about your experience. Hope everyone is having a great Thursday and enjoys their day!

-Alex Costa-