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.
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
A2) Neutral Grip Floor Press
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
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)
C2) Reverse Grip Overhead Triceps Extensions (barbell or cable)
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.
Comments for This Entry
Patrick MoynihanStraight bar curls - gets bicep to jump off arm from elbow joint. Overhead extensions - blood and fatigue in upper triceps for great pump,
October 28, 2014 at 11:26 am
Joel ApplegateJohn Romaniello I had to look up "drag curl" - didn't know what it was. The whole work out actually was great - just a brief go round and I even felt it the next day. The reverse curl tri extensions seemed particularly effective - something else I'd never done before. Um.. i made the assumption that a floor press is a push-up - reasonable, no...? Thank you.
March 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm
JohnI 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. :)
March 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm
JohnIt was awesome. Felt so good.
March 13, 2014 at 11:54 am
John WayneI threw this workout in at the end of my leg day workout at lunch today, and I can still feel a nice soreness in my under-worked muscles. I'm going to need to keep this added to the end of all my leg days... Gotta keep that blood flowing!
March 13, 2014 at 5:06 am
Rolando Medel Villaramai haven't read your blog for a long time. This got me reading today. Thank you for this.
March 13, 2014 at 5:05 am
noelleinverted Rv grip chin ups & seated ovrhd paused tricep extension
March 13, 2014 at 1:51 am
garrett brissettebiceps= Barbell curl and triceps=dips of all kinds
March 13, 2014 at 12:36 am
BradwickAny exercises to add if we want to focus on adding mass past the elbow? I've got stick forearms.
March 12, 2014 at 11:35 pm
Brad PetryI had to look a few up. Here are some videos I found: Neutral Grip Chin Up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFGdrkUNxAo Neutral Grip Floor Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmQErWDDe-E Barbell Drag Curl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMdNTHH6G8I Dips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa5BEaQ9T6Y Zottman Curls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrpRBgswtHs Various Tricep Extensions: https://www.youtube.com/user/ScottHermanFitness/search?query=tricep+extension
March 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm
Damian HoarDefinitely trying this out ! Biceps : incline dumbell t curls. Triceps: over head dumbell pullover
March 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm
Willie JacksonSame :)
March 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm
Scott WatsonGreat to see an article on packing on the size and not fat loss. Thanks!!
March 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm
Ohster ZapataFor Biceps bar curl and standing dumbbell curl, and for triceps close grip bench press...
March 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm
Luke BaumbachBack Levers for bi's! Tri's dips!
March 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm
Tempest Sharpi would love to try this out, however i don't know why some of these moves are...
March 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm
John RomanielloGet after it, yo!
March 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm
John RomanielloAwesome! Hope you enjoyed it.
March 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm
John RomanielloAgree. Love the bent rows, especially with the underhand grip for bis.
March 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm
Joel ApplegateSounds great, can't wait to try it
March 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm
Josh GrantAs 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.
March 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm
John RomanielloOld school is the best school =)
March 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm
Brandon McFarlaneGreat article. For biceps I think bent over barbell rows are a great compound movement, otherwise concentration curls for iso. For triceps I think medium/narrow grip flat bench are a great compound exercise and standing tricep cable extensions are great iso exercises
March 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm
Frank TrapaniI will train this routine later today. Thank You. As for the best all around bicep excersise (barbell Curl) and tricep (overhead d/B extension) meathead 1-O-1;)
March 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm
Johntomorrow is my rest day, I will get this a shot tomorrow.
March 12, 2014 at 9:13 am
John RomanielloAwesome! Lemme know how it goes.
March 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm
rimonabantexcellence site title[...] Hello http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/15-minute-arm-workout/ [...]
July 16, 2013 at 11:35 am
Magnificent Monday – April 8, 2013 | Meaghan Mounce[...] Sticking with the Gun Show theme of this post, here is a great article from Roman Fitness. I don’t do a lot of just arm work anymore, but this looks like it would get you jacked! HOW TO GET GREAT GUNZ [...]
April 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Good Exercises To Do When Pregnant[...] Bag Truly Should Be Large And Secure.4u-Weight LossWhy Folic Acid Isn’t Only For Pregnant WomenHow to Get Great Gunz (Fast)New Review on Freehand Jump SquatEight Causes of Adult AcnePhentermine.org – Phentermine [...]
August 28, 2012 at 12:52 am
Silje Mariela- BodyWorkDid this today actually! Nice one. Thank you. Look forward for a new workout!
July 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm
JeanI'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
April 10, 2012 at 7:11 am
Roan-Paul SpölminkI'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!
March 13, 2012 at 7:53 am
TimsingletonHey, just thought I would join and start reading. Thanks for the invite!
March 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm
ElizabethSo, if you're unable to do chin ups what would you do instead to help build up to that? Thanks :)
March 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm
billybobbutterballHi, 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
March 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm
Crystalwhat are Zottman Curls ?
March 1, 2012 at 1:12 am
billybobbutterballHi! 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
March 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm
PerIs 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?)
February 29, 2012 at 8:56 am
PerFor bis: Incline db curls to help get the proper stretch Tris: Close grip bench to skull crusher on the negative part
February 29, 2012 at 8:36 am
Derickbarbell 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.
February 28, 2012 at 5:50 am
Zachary YoungAs usual - fantastic post!
February 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm
SarettaTell 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?
February 26, 2012 at 10:53 am
Logancurved bar curls and skullcrushers
February 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm
Elite Strength FitnessMy 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 .
February 24, 2012 at 5:06 am
Jad3306Is this routine for women as well?
February 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm
John RomanielloAbsolutely; that's why I've got the girl up there =)
February 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm
EringschmarenHi! 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!
February 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm
John RomanielloOf course; any barbell exercise can be done with dumbbells.
February 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm
McallahanI like to finish biceps with going up the ladder with bicep curls laying on my back on the Smith machine...just body weight .....
February 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm
John RomanielloOooh, runnin' the rack, Arnold style. Like it.
February 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm
andrewdefinitely 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.
February 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm
Daniel WallenI 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!
February 22, 2012 at 10:17 am
TrevorGreat Post as always, good arms are a great assett to your look, everyone notice as wells....
February 22, 2012 at 3:00 am
zuldumble kickback..n dumble curls..
February 22, 2012 at 2:49 am
BILLSOUNDS 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
February 22, 2012 at 12:13 am
John RomanielloI love the discipline! Great job, Bill.
February 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Andrew EdwardsCross 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 =)
February 21, 2012 at 11:09 pm
BlackwidowxxxThanks can't wait to try it! muah Jodi
February 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm
RjmStraight bar bicep curl and the dip for triceps
February 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm
John PratherBiceps: Hammer Curls done with a rope. Triceps: Has to be Dips!
February 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm
February 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm
R_harneviousFor 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.
February 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm
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
February 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm
JohnI use an assisted machine when I do chin ups. see if your gym has one.
March 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm
MatthewEZ-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.
February 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm
RockyPull ups and cable curls for bi's Dips and more dips for tri's lol And I LOVE farmer walks for forearms.
February 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm
chisonwhere's the vids? zottman curls?floor press? hows about bodyweight movements hate the gym.
February 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm
dan-hunterAnxious to try this. Curious how you would incorporate it into the FLF workouts which I'm beginning this week. Thanks for the post.
February 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm
ReginaI 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 :)
February 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm
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!
February 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm
Huldadyou should have of video so we can and understand what each workout is and looks like
February 21, 2012 at 11:55 am
billybobbutterballZotman 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.
February 21, 2012 at 11:36 am
Christian BongiornoConcentration curls for days.....
February 21, 2012 at 11:12 am
Snap247Reverse Grip pull ups and Body weighted dips.
February 21, 2012 at 11:08 am
Matt CastleThanks 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.
February 21, 2012 at 11:00 am
John RomanielloThanks Matt! Much appreciated =)
February 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm
ClementFor 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?
February 21, 2012 at 10:54 am
John RomanielloClose grip bench press would work.
February 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm
VernonThe 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.
February 21, 2012 at 10:25 am
Allanfrrguson4Biceps...barbell curl triceps......dipd
February 21, 2012 at 9:30 am
JimRoman, 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
February 21, 2012 at 8:26 am
John Romaniello1) 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.
February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm
DustinBest exercise for bicips is probably the chin-up, and my favorite for triceps is reverse-grip bench press
February 21, 2012 at 8:03 am
Sethdon't know if i have favorites but 2 that i like are slow chin up negatives and close grip bench
February 21, 2012 at 7:50 am
Dphilldi 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.
February 21, 2012 at 7:47 am
Lyubomir VasilevNice 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?
February 21, 2012 at 7:31 am
Fattj23you should have of video so we can and understand what each workout is and looks like................
February 21, 2012 at 6:41 am
R_harneviousYou 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.
February 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Eugene Zugernegative chin holds and squeeze presses
February 21, 2012 at 5:51 am
Charles MclaughlinNick Nilsson Curls for Biceps and Weighted Dips for Triceps.
February 21, 2012 at 5:18 am
RahzRoman, 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
February 21, 2012 at 4:56 am
John Romaniellowoot! love the CG presses.
February 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Adam ZeeHey 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.
February 21, 2012 at 4:53 am
KedricGreat 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
February 21, 2012 at 4:44 am
NigelIf 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
February 21, 2012 at 4:22 am
John RomanielloYou could set it up like that. Neutral grip floor press is one of the BEST triceps exercises I know of, particularly for the lockout.
February 21, 2012 at 10:25 am
MattHey 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.
February 21, 2012 at 3:21 am
FitJerkThere is no question... weighted chins are the quickest way to sexy biceps.
February 21, 2012 at 3:07 am
Andrew EdwardsAwesome post Roman. This workout almost made me cry in a good way. Next time I'll try it with fat gripz
February 21, 2012 at 2:37 am