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The Gun Show: UFC 360's Arm-Blasters

Use this high-volume arm workout to enhance both your athleticism and the appearance of your pipes.

Get more fighter-inspired training secrets with UFC FIT.
Fighters typically sport an enviable pair of arms. You can develop a similar set of guns through a new regime of three-a-day training sessions based on the functional training concepts that guide many professional fighters.

Andy Hennebelle, strength and conditioning coach at UFC Gym in Corona, California, designed the workout to be as taxing and unpredictable to the biceps and triceps as a fight is to the rest of the body. “Muscle growth is about challenging the muscle to adapt, so you need to put the body under enough strain that the volume in itself forces the body to adapt and grow,” Hennebelle says.

Think of it as a sparring match for your arms. Rep counts vary from exercise to exercise to keep the muscles guessing; supersets and the classic “21s” technique are incorporated to heighten intensity; both fast reps and super-slow ones are included to mimic striking and ground-game holds, respectively; and training volume surpasses 40 total sets, making the routine ideal for someone looking to add appreciable size—an inch or more—to his pipes. Because of the high volume of this routine, it’s recommended for individuals with at least three to six months of consistent weight-training experience.

Perform this workout two to three times per week, resting 40 to 60 seconds between sets of the same exercise and two minutes between exercises (aside from supersets, where minimal rest should be taken). The entire workout should take around 80 minutes to complete. To save time, bicep and tricep exercises can be supersetted with one another, pairing the first biceps move listed with the first triceps move, and so on.

ARM-BLASTING ROUTINE


BICEPS
EXERCISE/SETS/REPS
Chin-Ups 3 AMAP*
Barbell Curl/4/12
Superset with
Incline Dumbbell Curl/3/12
Alternating Dumbbell Curl/3/12 per arm
Superset with
Barbell Preacher Reverse Curl 3 8
Barbell Curl 21s 2/7-7-7**
Superset with
Hammer Curl (for speed) 2 AMAP*
Super-Slow Machine Curl 1 6

TRICEPS
EXERCISE/SETS/REPS
Narrow Push-Up/3/AMAP*
Skullcrusher/3/12
Lying Dumbbell Alternating Extension/3/8 per arm
Cable Reverse-Grip Pushdown/4/12
Superset with
Cable Pushdown 21s/2***/7-7-7**
Overhead One-Arm Dumbbell Extension/4/10 per arm
Dips/3/12
Super-Slow Machine Pushdown/1/6

*As many reps as possible. On hammer curls, pick a moderate weight that allows you to get at least 15 reps.
**Do 7 reps in the first half of range of motion, 7 reps in the second half, and 7 full range of motion reps.
***Superset cable pushdown 21s after sets 2 and 4 of reverse-grip pushdowns only

CHIN-UPS
Grab a chin-up bar with an underhand (palms facing you) grip just inside shoulder-width. Start in a dead-hang position with your arms fully extended. Bend your elbows to pull yourself straight up. When your chin clears the bar, lower yourself back down under control to the dead-hang position.

BARBELL CURL
Stand holding a barbell in front of your thighs with your arms fully extended toward the floor.
Without letting your elbows flare out to the sides, curl the bar up as far as possible then lower it under control to the start position.

INCLINE DUMBBELL CURL
Lie back on an incline bench while holding a pair of dumbbells. Start with both arms
hanging straight down toward the floor and your palms facing in. Keeping your upper arm stationary, curl one dumbbell up, rotating your wrist so that by the top of movement your
palm faces your shoulder. Lower the dumbbell back down then repeat with the opposite arm. Alternate arms every other rep.

ALTERNATING DUMBBELL CURL
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Curl one dumbbell up
while turning your wrist so that your palm faces your shoulder at the top. Lower the dumbbell
back down then repeat with the opposite arm. Alternate arms every other rep.

BARBELL PREACHER REVERSE CURL
Sit on the seat of a preacher bench, holding a barbell with a reverse (palms down) grip. Start with the backs of your upper arms flush with the pad and your elbows extended. Keeping your upper arms in contact with the pad throughout, curl the bar up as far as you can then lower it back down to the start position.

HAMMER CURL
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Keeping your elbows in tight at your sides, curl the dumbbells up, maintaining the palms-in (hammer) wrist position. Then lower them back to the start position. In this workout, perform hammer curls for speed, doing as many fast reps as you can per set until reaching failure.

BARBELL CURL 21S
Stand holding a barbell in front of your thighs with your arms fully extended. Curl the bar halfway up (to where the forearms are parallel with the floor) and back down seven times. Then do seven reps from halfway to all the way up. Finish the set with seven reps of the full range of motion.

NARROW PUSH-UP
Assume a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulders on the floor. Start with your arms extended and your body in a straight line from head to feet. Bend your arms, keeping your elbows pointed back (not flared out to the sides), to lower yourself toward the floor. When your chest reaches the floor, extend your elbows to press yourself back up.

SKULLCRUSHER
Lie back on a flat bench while holding a barbell over your face with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your arms extended. Bend your elbows to lower the bar down and slightly back to the crown of your head. (For safety, don’t lower the bar to your face.) Touch down lightly, and then extend your elbows to return to the arms-extended position.

LYING DUMBBELL ALTERNATING EXTENSION
Lie back on a flat bench holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length above you with your palms facing each other. Bend one elbow to lower the dumbbell to the side of your head, keeping the other arm straight. Extend your elbow to press the dumbbell back up, and then repeat with the opposite arm. Alternate arms every other rep.

CABLE REVERSE-GRIP PUSHDOWN
Stand facing a cable stack with an EZ-bar attachment coming from the highest pulley setting.  Hold the bar at around shoulder-width with your palms facing up (reverse-grip), and start with your elbows in tight at your sides and your forearms just above parallel with the floor. Contract your triceps to extend your arms until your elbows are locked out at the bottom then slowly return to the start position.

OVERHEAD ONE-ARM DUMBBELL EXTENSION
Stand holding a dumbbell straight overhead with your palm facing forward. Rest your non-working hand on your hip. Keeping your upper arm perpendicular with the floor, lower the dumbbell behind your head, then extend your elbow to press the weight back up to the overhead position. Complete all reps with that arm, then switch arms.

DIPS
Grab near the ends of two parallel dipping bars and start with your arms fully extended, your body suspended vertically, and knees slightly bent. Bend your arms to lower yourself, leaning slightly forward and not letting your elbows flare out to the sides. When your upper arms reach at least parallel with the floor, extend your elbows to press yourself back up to the start position.

CABLE PUSHDOWN 21S
Stand facing a cable stack with an EZ-bar attachment coming from the highest pulley setting. Hold the bar at around shoulder-width with your palms facing up (reverse-grip), and start with your elbows in tight at your sides and your forearms just above parallel with the floor. Contract your triceps to extend your arms until your elbows are locked out at the bottom then slowly return to the start position.

SLOW PLAY


Both portions of the arms workout finish with super-slow-rep sets—one set each of six 20-second reps that take a long and painful two minutes to complete. Using whichever types of seated curl and triceps extension machines your gym has available, perform each rep with a 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down pace. If at any point during the set your muscles begin to fail, quickly switch to a lighter weight and continue.

The benefits of super-slow reps are numerous; mostly notably, the technique is useful for increasing muscular endurance and size, in addition to minimizing injury risk and acting as a cool-down exercise



A version of this article originally appeared in UFC 360. Click here to subscribe to UFC 360, the official magazine of  the Ultimate Fighting Championship, available now in print and
digital editions. Photos by Gari Askew

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