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-

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-

Pause Deadlifts

First time ever trying pause deadlifts and were they a treat… worked up to a pretty smooth single with 275. Probably should have done more but I always like to analyze my videos and break down my form, especially when I’m doing an exercise I’ve never tried before.

Afterwards, I dropped weight and did 225 for 2 sets of triples. I dropped the weight one more time and did 185 and really tried to get extra practice with this movement. I feel like I probably could have paused a little higher on some but by no means am I great at this, but I’m striving daily to get there just like everyone else! Happy Monday everyone, enjoy your week and make the best out of every opportunity 🙏🏼

Hope everyone had a great Easter and was able to spend time with your family! I have some huge news I’ll be dropping within the next week or two and I can’t wait to share!

 

MUST TRY Rear Delt Exercise

Happy Sunday everyone, hope you had a great weekend! Sorry the video is kinda late today, but I am bringing you an exercise I came up with a while back. It is solid for developing your rear deltoids (muscles in the back of your shoulder) this also creates a lot of stability in my shoulders for when I bench press. This is a solid exercise to try, I HIGHLY recommend it! Try it out and let me know what you think!

I will see you all tomorrow for a brand new video!
    -Alex Costa-

Whey Protein 101

Whey protein is one of, if not the most commonly sold protein blends out on the fitness market. There are some that are of better quality than others and some that have amazing mix ability and taste delicious! I want to give you the run down of whey protein so next time you go to make a purchase, you know what to look for and what it can do for you!

Protein scoop.JPG

What is whey protein?

Whey is a type of protein that is found in milk. Whey is usually found in the water like substance of the milk. There is 2 different types of proteins found in milk, one being whey which takes up only about 20% and the casein which takes over a whopping 80%. When the milk is sent to factories for the cheese production, they typically will use the casein blend into the cheese products and other dairy items. The whey is divided and separated to make into a whey protein powder. Now it can sound simple here but when whey is sent, they will typically break it down so it can be processed into powder or to use it for cooking purposes.

 

Why take whey protein?

Whey protein can boost your BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and protein intake! The protein has BCAA which is critical for building muscle. One of the branch chains that is included is leucine. This helps to increase muscle protein synthesis when combined with weight training. This can help you take in more protein and BCAAs into the muscles when they are broken down from working out.

Whey protein can help with weight loss! An article from AuthorityNutrition.com stated that “Protein can boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, and make people automatically eat up to 441 fewer calories per day”. This is usually caused by whey protein being so thermogenic. That is about the right amount of calories that you want to decrease when being in a calorie deficit during weight loss. There is always the common question when losing weight and that is “am I going to lose muscle?” Take a whey protein supplement and you can benefit by keeping muscle packed on while you see a decrease on the scale!

Whey protein can help keep your immune system strong! There is two things that whey holds called immunoglobins and lactoferrin which helps to keep the immune system strong! This has also been said to have anti-cancer and anti-aging effects. This makes it a pretty solid supplement choice for most ages.

Whey protein can help you feel full to decrease hunger. This is good news if you are wanting to lose weight. Protein is the most filling macronutrient and the whey blend actually is more effective than other protein blends. So in other words, whey protein can act as an appetite suppressant.

 

How to take whey protein?

A typical serving size of whey protein will consist anywhere around 25 grams of protein. Every bottle will have a nutrition label stating ingredients and macronutrients. Some that add a bunch of flavors will usually have added sugar for the taste, so watch for that. Another common question asked is “do I need to take a whey protein supplement to add muscle?” The answer will vary on the person asking. What I mean is some people get plenty of protein from real foods and do not need to spend money on a supplement. On the other hand, some people do not get their daily need of protein to add optimal muscle growth and repair to their training. This is where an extra protein shake can come into play! You can add 1-2 shakes a day with 1-2 scoops each shake. This can quickly add up to get you to the grams of protein you need. I believe that supplements are a good thing and can be of great assistance when we are on the go or don’t have enough to supplement our body at certain times. I would personally not completely rely on any supplement when you can get more nutrients from full foods. If you have a healthy diet, supplements can be a great addition!

 

Whey protein side effects and warnings?

As a lot of nutrition supplements, always read labels before use as well as discuss with your physician before taking anything. If you are allergic to certain ingredients like soy, eggs, milk then keep an eye on all proteins because this can be a popular ingredient for many powders. Whey protein powder might not be the best option if you have a lactose allergy. Lactose is a sugar that is found in milk and can be avoided by picking a different protein powder. Maybe try looking into a whey protein isolate powder if you suffer from lactose intolerance.

An excess amount of protein can sometimes lead to diarrhea and an upset stomach so make sure you keep an eye on how much you consume.

 

Thank you for stopping by to read my article! I hope that you learned something new today and come back. Tomorrows article will cover a recipe using a whey protein to add some extra protein into a delicious snack! If you are interested in online fitness coaching then send an email to costafitness1@gmail.com

 

Resources:

https://authoritynutrition.com/whey-protein-101/

Picturefit youtube channel – what is whey protein