How to Get Great Gunz (Fast)

Photo: Fouad Abiad 

It was recently pointed out to me that there’s a disparity in content on my site—specifically, a client said, “Hey, for a guy with huge muscles, you really don’t talk much about… um, getting huge muscles, you know?”

I suppose that’s true: more often than not, my articles center on fat loss, rather than muscle gain, particularly when it comes to the awesome-tastic workouts I post for you to try in the gym.

Which, I suppose, is unfair. Or, at least, unbalanced.

But, as great as articles about stuff like complexes can be, not everyone is focused on fat loss all the time. Sometimes, we’d like to know how to build a bit of mass, or just improve the look of a body part without increasing size—even if we don’t have a lot of time.

And this is never more true than when it comes to arms.

Guys, have you ever looked at a guy with really big biceps and thought, “Wow, he must have great genetics; probably doesn’t train arms” ?

Ladies, have you ever looked a woman with toned arms and thought, “Oh, that’s completely natural, I bet she doesn’t work out” ?

I’m guessing no.

That’s because, unlike many other body parts, arms aren’t something that people view as natural: They’re something we consider the product of hard work and time under the iron. And unlike more genetically influenced body parts (calves, for instance), arms aren’t born, they’re made.  I believe anyone can have a really great set of guns, and, thankfully, it’s really not hard to do.

That’s true even if you have less than 20 minutes to hit the gym, especially if you have the right plan.  This plan. Because with this 15-minute  workout, you’ll be able to get in, train your arms, and get out in less time than it probably takes you to drive to the gym.

If you’re looking to make the most of your week, this is a great workout to throw in at the end of a leg session, or sprints, or even on a planned off day.

The workout consists of three supersets for your arms; each intended to hit the muscles differently, recruiting different muscle fibers and prioritizing different functional aspects of each of the muscles.  By alternating exercises for biceps and triceps, you manage time and rest periods more efficiently.

roman1

Photo: Jared Polin 

The Workout

Superset 1 – Big, Heavy Compound Movements.
These exercises involve multiple joints and muscles, so you’ll be strongest here. The heavy weight forces you to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers; these recover quickly, so rest is kept brief.

Perform 5 sets of 5 reps using heavy weight, resting 30-45 seconds between exercises.  After your last superset, rest 30 seconds and move to superset 2.

A1) Neutral Grip Chin-Up
Sets: 5
Reps: 5

A2) Neutral Grip Floor Press
Sets: 5
Reps: 5

Superset 2 – “Moderate” Compound Movements.  These exercises are more isolation based, but still recruit other muscles.   In this case, in addition to hitting your bis and tris, both of these will hit your shoulders and traps, helping you to beef those up as well.

Perform 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise, alternating with only 10 seconds of rest in between.  After your last superset, proceed immediately to superset C.

B1) Barbell Drag Curl
Sets: 4
Reps: 8

B2) Dips
Sets: 4
Reps: 8

Superset 3 – High-rep isolation movements. This last superset is going to be as close to isolation as you can get while still providing maximum muscle building variety.  Both movements work the target muscles intensely; however, they also put a lot of mechanical stress on the muscles of the forearms.  This superset will help complete the look of you arms by developing the lower arm and strengthening the grip.

Perform 2 sets of 15 reps for each exercise, alternating with 20-30 seconds of rest in between.  After your last superset, proceed to the mirror and flex for 2-3 minutes.

C1) Zottman Curls (dumbbell)
Sets: 2
Reps: 12-15

C2) Reverse Grip Overhead Triceps Extensions (barbell or cable)
Sets: 2
Reps: 12-15

 

A nice set of arms looks good on anyone. It helps the guys look stronger and the girls look sexier. And, of course, the other way around.

But great guns come with a price: time and energy. Thankfully, with the right set up, you can minimize your investment, and still see maximum results.

So!

I want to end with a controversial question: what do you think is the BEST overall exercise for biceps–and then for triceps!

Leave your responses below…60 COMMENTS and we get another workout this week!

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. He occasionally writes things on his blog and rants on Facebook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.edwards123 Andrew Edwards

    Awesome post Roman. This workout almost made me cry in a good way. Next time I’ll try it with fat gripz

  • http://www.fitjerk.com/ FitJerk

    There is no question… weighted chins are the quickest way to sexy biceps. 

  • Matt

    Hey Roman,
    Great post. Gonna try it out this week. My favourite exercise for biceps is weighted close grip chin ups. I usually pair them up with weighted dips or close grip bench for the triceps.

  • Nigel

    If you wanted to double this up would you simply just go through the routine twice or would you do superset (1) twice then (2) twice etc. Also why do you have the floor press in here isn’t that a chest excercise?
    Thanks for the info

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       You could set it up like that.

      Neutral grip floor press is one of the BEST triceps exercises I know of, particularly for the lockout.

  • Kedric

    Great post,i’ll use this to train for my gun show.Although I would prefer if the dips could be replace?I have bad shoulders

  • Adam Zee

    Hey bru,

    great post man! Will give it a try this week. My biceps always grew slower but i have found weighted close grip chin ups as the best way for biceps and weighted dips for ticeps.

  • Rahz

    Roman, my favorite arm exercises are close grip bar presses, weight dips, and screaming preacher Curls- 4 set drop.

    That’s how I get down!

    Rahz

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       woot! love the CG presses.

  • Charles Mclaughlin

    Nick Nilsson Curls for Biceps and Weighted Dips for Triceps.

  • Eugene Zuger

    negative chin holds and squeeze presses

  • Fattj23

    you should have of video so we can and understand what each workout is and looks like…………….

    • R_harnevious

      You should be able to find videos of these exercises on youtube. BTW the Zottman curl was a favorite of Bruce Lee, so obviously its a worthwhile exercise. Drag curls were a favorite of Vince Gironda, another person who believed in putting putting effort into the right exercises.

  • Lyubomir Vasilev

    Nice post!
    My personal favourite bicep exercise is the dumbell Scott bicep curl. I think it really puts the work on the bicep and I do it almost always in the bicep days.
    What do you think of it?

  • Dphilld

    i like seated d/b consentration curls supersetted with zottman curl for biceps one serious pump to the forearm and d/b kickback suppersetted with bench dips to the max for the triceps great pump also !!! phill uk.

  • Seth

    don’t know if i have favorites but 2 that i like are slow chin up negatives and close grip bench

  • Dustin

    Best exercise for bicips is probably the chin-up, and my favorite for triceps is reverse-grip bench press

  • Jim

    Roman,

    Thanks for these, there great. Two things please: 1. What is the name of your other program besides FLF, and where do I go to buy it. 2. Name of a good reference book that has pictures of ALL the exercises and how to do them.  Thanks again.

    jim

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       1) I have a few: super hero workout and final phase fat loss. a google search will bring them up.

      2) “Strength Training Anatomy” is the best book I know of.

  • Allanfrrguson4

    Biceps…barbell curl triceps……dipd

  • Vernon

    The best overall exercise for biceps is a Close Grip Chin up with  Triceps Cable Pushdowns.Use different bars / ropes / grip for triceps to vary focus.

  • Clement

    For me, chin-ups and underhand inverted rows work best for biceps and dips and skullcrushers for triceps. Despite having achieved pretty good results with these exercises, though, I need bigger gunz! Hopefully your programme will send me on my way.

    Unfortunately, my gym doesn’t have dipping bars any more. Any exercises I can substitute dips with?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Close grip bench press would work.

  • Matt Castle

    Thanks for sending out links to your blog with GREAT info, Roman. So often I get emails from trainers that are  just peddling their own or their buddy’s latest product. Always good info from you, much appreciated.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Thanks Matt! Much appreciated =)

  • Snap247

    Reverse Grip pull ups and Body weighted dips.

  • Christian Bongiorno

    Concentration curls for days…..

  • billybobbutterball

    Zotman curls for biceps, then isometric in front of a mirror…for the triceps, break your ankle and live on crutches for a couple of months.
    or –if that is too extreme –. narrow-spaced pushups off a vibration plate…From an age ago, George Jowett  had a goody; using light dumbells; bend over at the waist and extend rotated clenched fists as far back and up towards ceiling as you can manage, then hold until muscle pain makes you wince/scream… 

    Hell, I’m 80 years old..I would best transplant a new pair of arms after soaking them in testosterone…..
    bill g.

  • Huldad

    you should have of video so we can and understand what each workout is and looks like

  • Mark (MNMAC)

    This has come at a perfect time for me!   Thanks John.    A couple quick questions …

    1. Old man here, … due to shoulder/rotator issues, dips are out of the question.  Can I substitue bench dips or is there a better alternative?  I worry about the same issue on the Floor PRess.

    2. Now I am really showing my ignorance.  OPlease explain “neutral grip” for (A1 and A2) and “reverse grip”  for (C2).

    BTW I want to be the most studly grandpa at the gym!  This will help!

  • Regina

    I just started crossfit and had to do pullups. I thot I was strong. I’m not!! I absolutely love the pic of the woman’s arms. I’m printing it for inspiration and posting it on my forehead :)

  • dan-hunter

    Anxious to try this.  Curious how you would incorporate it into the FLF workouts which I’m beginning this week.  Thanks for the post.

  • chison

    where’s the vids? zottman curls?floor press? hows about bodyweight movements hate the gym.

  • Rocky

    Pull ups and cable curls for bi’s

    Dips and more dips for tri’s lol

    And I LOVE farmer walks for forearms.

  • Matthew

    EZ-BAR Reverse curls – since they are the most neglected type of curl they tend to deliver the greatest gains.  Declined close grip bench press with chains for triceps, huge stretch with a better force curve due to the chins.  Also better for picking getting exactly the right weight than dips – which even strong women can struggle to perform well.

  • no upper body strength!

    Pics would be great for the people that aren’t educated in what a dip or any of this other stuff is. Is there an alternative for the chin up? Not every one can do a chin up

    • John

      I use an assisted machine when I do chin ups. see if your gym has one.

  • R_harnevious

    For biceps I say weighted close grip chinups. For triceps, I didnt pay specific attention to mass gaining but Id have to say weighted dips or skullcrushers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.prather1 John Prather

    Biceps: Hammer Curls done with a rope.
    Triceps: Has to be Dips!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Fo’sho!
       

  • Rjm

    Straight bar bicep curl and the dip for triceps

  • Blackwidowxxx

    Thanks can’t wait to try it!  muah Jodi

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.edwards123 Andrew Edwards

    Cross body fat gripz curls for beeceps and weighted dips for treeceps. also funky chickens are a good finisher 
    http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/exercises/exercises_youve_never_tried_17 Hope you dont mind the link Roman  =)

  • BILL

    SOUNDS LIKE MY KIND OF WORKOUT. I’LL TRY IT OUT AS SOON AS I FINISH MY LAST 3 WEEKS OF THE PLAN I AM ON NOW. I WONT QUIT JUST TO TRY OUT SOMETHING ELSE. 
    THANKS

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       I love the discipline! Great job, Bill.

  • zul

    dumble kickback..n dumble curls..

  • Trevor

    Great Post as always, good arms are a great assett to your look, everyone notice as wells….

  • Daniel Wallen

    I saw your original article of this routine and tried it out Saturday along with some hill sprints. My arms were toast. I had never done drag curls and have to say they’re a great exercise. I feel them working way more than traditional curls. Sweet!

  • andrew

    definitely will consider this for an arm workout in the near future. i’d never heard of a zottman curl before this and i’d like to try it. thanks roman.

  • Mcallahan

    I like to finish biceps with going up the ladder with bicep curls laying on my back on the Smith machine…just body weight …..

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Oooh, runnin’ the rack, Arnold style.  Like it.

  • Eringschmaren

    Hi! I am asking a question instead of answering yours. Do you have similar exercises one could do w/dumbbells?  I don’t belong to a gym or have fancy equipment at home.  TIA!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Of course; any barbell exercise can be done with dumbbells.

  • Jad3306

    Is this routine for women as well?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Absolutely; that’s why I’ve got the girl up there =)

  • Elite Strength Fitness

    My biceps always respond well to supinated barbell rows
    But for triceps I favor weighted dips or narrow presses.

    I tend to avoid single jointed movements but for biceps I find
    The drag curl is effective .

  • Logan

    curved bar curls and skullcrushers

  • Saretta

    Tell me you’re joking about this part: “proceed to the mirror and flex for 2-3 minutes”!

    How often should one do this workout? Once a week for 6 weeks? I just made that up, so what’s your answer?

  • Zachary Young

    As usual – fantastic post!

  • Derick

    barbell curls attached to a low pulley cable for max resistance, and decline close grip bench press.  But it also depends what you’re training for.

  • Per

    For bis: Incline db curls to help get the proper stretch
    Tris: Close grip bench to skull crusher on the negative part

  • Per

    Is the netrual grip in the floor press essential or would it work with a bar as well? 

    (Or is neutral grip in a machine that can be adjusted not to be come a chest press better?)

  • Crystal

    what are Zottman Curls ?

    • billybobbutterball

      Hi!  Zottman was some old strongman guy back in prehistory. The curl is done with dumbbells.
      The special distinction is the turning of the wrist as it is lifted up…At the bottom your hand
      is palm down…by the time it gets to your shoulder it has rotated to the palm up…to the point where it really knots up the bicep muscle.

      Best!  B G

  • Elizabeth

    So, if you’re unable to do chin ups what would you do instead to help build up to that?
    Thanks :)

    • billybobbutterball

      Hi, Liz, I’m in the same frustrating fix. Ticks me off that I can’t do a pull-up. Sixty years ago
      I could do twenty behind my neck.

      This is what I do in my dotage… I have some straps that are mounted over a door way. I stand on a milk carton, stick my hands through the loops and assist my pullups with my legs. (This is actually not a bad full-body exercise and there are companies that sell such a device that mounts on a door)

      Anyway, I also do negatives to help build strength…i.e., I use my legs to get all the way up, then I hang on and resist the downward journey (one is much stronger on the down side compared
      to pulling up..negatives are really good for building strength)

      So, the plan is to stand on something then address the bar and use you legs just enough to follow through the movement for a half dozen reps or so. If you are not seriously overweight and under
      60 or so you should be able to do a chin before too long…give it a couple of months

      best! bill g aka billybobbutterball

  • Timsingleton

    Hey, just thought I would join and start reading. Thanks for the invite!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Roan.now Roan-Paul Spölmink

    I’ve done these excercises, really love the drag curl. Never done that one before. Though I am wondering how high in your opinion the bar should come? Also do you have a good link for the reverse overhead grip extensions? I can’t find one!

  • Jean

    I’ve got a question because i have just started working out for the first time in my life. Does this routine also target other muscle groups such as the pecs? cause i don’t wanna have extremely awesome arms but a small chest. and also, would you recommend doing this every day in addition to sprinting? thanks

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  • John

    tomorrow is my rest day, I will get this a shot tomorrow.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Awesome! Lemme know how it goes.

  • Josh Grant

    As a guy with fairly small wrist and elbow joints at 6’1 I have to do a fair amount of direct arm work to get any notable gains in arm size. My two personal favorites are:
    Biceps: ez-bar preacher curls
    Triceps: ez-bar skull crushers

    That may seem old school but it works for me.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Old school is the best school =)

  • Luke Baumbach

    Back Levers for bi’s! Tri’s dips!

  • Damian Hoar

    Definitely trying this out !
    Biceps : incline dumbell t curls.
    Triceps: over head dumbell pullover

  • Bradwick

    Any exercises to add if we want to focus on adding mass past the elbow? I’ve got stick forearms.

  • garrett brissette

    biceps= Barbell curl and triceps=dips of all kinds

  • noelle

    inverted Rv grip chin ups & seated ovrhd paused tricep extension

  • John

    It was awesome. Felt so good.

  • John

    I really enjoyed this workout. I am going to use it once a week on a rest day. Get me in the gym one more day a week. :)