The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

It’s no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    Utilizing Gym Complexes for Power & Conditioning by Tom Mutaffis

    This article was written by Tom Mutaffis and was published in our new Serious About Muscle Newsletter here - Wannabebig Serious About Muscle Newsletter - Sept 1st, 2009

    Utilizing Gym Complexes for Power & Conditioning

    It is a common dilemma for most people who weight train; they want to build strength, but at the same time want to be fit and athletic. Unfortunately, many of the currently popular training protocols neglect overall balance in favor of a singular objective such as strength, hypertrophy, or aerobic capacity.

    The program described herein can provide outstanding strength gains while also maintaining, or improving your level of GPP (general physical preparedness – i.e. conditioning).
    To read the result of the article, check it out in the newsletter by clicking the link above.

    Tom will be answering feedback and questions here...
    Last edited by Joe Black; 09-01-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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  3. #2
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    If anyone would like examples of how to utilize this type of training just let me know.

    You can add it in on your "DE" days, can do it for just one bodypart (lower body) if you choose to, or can make it your entire routine if you are looking for true balance of strength, athleticism, hypertrophy, and conditioning.

    Much of the training that I do for strongman competitions utilizes this style as well.
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  4. #3
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I really enjoy these newsletters. I didn't get an e-mail notice about it this time, so thanks for posting it.

    Tom, nice read. I've done the old York course for athletes which is [sort of] similar (except yours is a split). It is a very fun way to train and can definately get the conditioning up. I love reading about new and productive ways to train
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  5. #4
    LuNa
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    I was planning on implementing one day of complexes as a substitute for cardio. I absolutely hate running on a treadmill so this looks like a brilliant substitute. Thanks very much for posting it.

    Also, i did not receive an update via email like Off Road. However, i did receive the last one.
    Last edited by LuNa; 09-01-2009 at 10:33 PM.

  6. #5
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    Hey guys, please can you let me know if it eventually comes through or not? The script can take a day to run and I see it's at 73% now, so you guys could be in that remaining 27%.

    Fire me a pm as to not impose on Tom's thread

    Cheers!
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  7. #6
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Off Road & Lunalicious - thank you for the feedback.

    If you are interested in doing barbell complexes in place of cardio I can write something up for that.

    I actually used to do one that is similar to the "Bear" complex from Crossfit for my conditioning days. It is basically a deadlift, hang clean, front squat, push press, back squat, BTN jerk, front squat, down, repeat. If you can do 3-5 consecutive sets then you are in pretty good shape! And the time under tension ends up being about 10 minutes, so just a couple of these complexes and you are looking at a great cardio workout. Sometimes I will throw in some additional reps on the squats / deadlift / cleans to mix things up since generally the weights are pretty light.
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  8. #7
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Thanks for the offer Tom, and I'm curious...How would somebody incorperate complexes into the 5/3/1 routine?

    My current schedule:

    Sun:OH Press, Chinups, L-fly
    Mon:GPP (heavy bag (boxing))
    Tues:Squat, Pullthrough, Heelraise
    Wed:GPP (sandbag carries)
    Thur:Bench, Rows, Curls
    Fri: Deadlift, Situps, Sled drags
    Sat:Rest


    I was thinking along the lines of moving the sled to Wednesday and maybe complexes after the Deads on Friday...
    Last edited by Off Road; 09-02-2009 at 07:22 AM.
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  9. #8
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    One way to incorporate complexes into something like the 5/3/1 would be to just pair your assistance work with your primary movements.

    For instance if Tuesday is Squat day and your accessory movements are stiff leg deadlifts and leg extensions, then you can simply do your regular 5/3/1 rep & intensity protocol with the squats, but extend the sets to include the other two movements. Because there is a specific level of intensity required for the 5/3/1 you will probably need to extend your rest periods to around 5 minutes between sets in order to properly recouperate. The total workout time will actually be shorter though because once you are done with the main working sets your accessory work is already covered.

    Sometimes instead of doing all complexes I will just do complexes on my final sets, so on the 5/3/1 a workout might look something like this:

    Squat Day: (We'll just pick the 3x3 day)
    450 lbs x 3
    470 lbs x 3
    485 lbs x 4 / Stiff Leg Deadlift x 10 / Leg Extension x 10 - All done with no rest.

    Stiff Leg Deadlift x 10 / Leg Extension x 10
    Stiff Leg Deadlift x 10 / Leg Extention x 10

    Finish off with any additional accessory work such as pull-throughs or heel raises.


    This way you are still incorporating some complexes but are also allowing yourself to maximize your energy for the heaviest sets. The purpose of this is to build strength and conditioning simultaneously.
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  10. #9
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    That looks very interesting. I like doing squats with my 5/3/1, and then doing squats again with 65% for 3x10. So I'm thinking for the next session...

    Main work:
    Squat= 260x3, 295x3, 330x? (at least 3)

    Complexes:
    Squatx10 (65%)/Pullthroughx10/???x10 (moving quickly between them)

    Finish with heelraises

    Sound okay?
    Last edited by Off Road; 09-02-2009 at 08:59 AM.
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  11. #10
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Off Road -

    That looks good, you could even tie in the first set of pullthroughts and mystery exercise with the last set of main work squats. (hit 330 for reps then go right into the other movements). From there if you wanted to hit two more sets of 10 with 65% I think that would be good since a total of (5) sets on squat with only one being to failure should be manageable. You would then have 6 total sets of accessory work as well which is ideal, and can finish off with the heel raises.
    Last edited by Tom Mutaffis; 09-02-2009 at 12:34 PM.
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  12. #11
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    If anyone else is interested in putting together custom workouts / routines just let me know...
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  13. #12
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    This is awesome. I've really been getting into the idea of decreasing/eliminating rest times and working higher rep ranges for the purpose of conditioning alone with hypertrophy. I liked how you did add the complex into the last set of the 5/3/1 set AFTER the heavy set is completed, so it doesn't affect the strength-building part of it!
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  14. #13
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot Tom
    I like it because it allows my rest days to be rest days.
    Last edited by Off Road; 09-02-2009 at 01:55 PM.
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  15. #14
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Now I need to pick exercises that I can do back-to-back with just one barbell and two dumbells. I lift at home with limited equipment.

    Would you mind if I PMed you my ideas?
    Last edited by Off Road; 09-02-2009 at 03:54 PM.
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  16. #15
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Brihead - I am glad that you found this helpful, let me know if you want to tweak your specific routine.

    Off Road - Feel free to PM me and we can come up with some exercises for you.
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  17. #16
    Determined View 1's Avatar
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    Great article tom. How do you feel about setting this up on M,W,F rotation with an upper/lower split so your hitting each muscle group 3 times in 2 weeks?

    Also when you say 5 to 10 sets is that for both complexes?

    And do you ramp up the weights each set going heavier and heavier until the last set, or do you ever do a complex as a straight set, say 3 complexes for 3 sets same weights for each complex? And what do you think about mixing them say complex #1 working ramping the weight up, and complex #2 doing them as straight sets?

    I also realize there is no set complexes but do you have any more ideas as during peak gym hours some complexes would be near impossible. I mean I couyld do simple things like flat or incline DB press, then 1 arm DB rows, then pushups, but what about the lower leg complexes that is where it becomes more tricky.

    Sorry I know I threw alot of questions at you.
    Last edited by View 1; 09-02-2009 at 09:37 PM.
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  18. #17
    LuNa
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    Tom,

    What do you think about this article posted by T-Nation:
    http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_a...edded_physique

    If i understood it correctly they purely use complexes as a form of cardio instead of also using it to create muscle/strength.

  19. #18
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuNalicious View Post
    Tom,

    What do you think about this article posted by T-Nation:
    http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_a...edded_physique

    If i understood it correctly they purely use complexes as a form of cardio instead of also using it to create muscle/strength.
    Great question.

    The T-Muscle cardio program and my gym complex program are quite different. The primary difference is that they are looking at complexes as being multiple exercises performed with the same piece of equipment loaded to the same weight. My program involves grouping high intensity compound exercises with lower intensity isolation movements to simultaneously stimulate strength and hypertrophy while improving GPP. It is a new twist on traditional workouts and can be very effective for individuals who are looking for a balanced physique.

    I did mention the "cardio complexes" in one of my replies above (responding to Off Road), and they can be a great alternative to standard cardiovascular exercise.

    In the program that I put together you are able to work with high intensity but also have increased time under tension and volume. This effectively increases strength and hypertrophy, while also improving conditioning. One of the great things about this type of training is that it is adapatable and can be utilized in almost any training program.

    Hope this helps to clear things up. The program that I put together is not a crossfit routine or '300 workout' but rather an effective way to tweak your training to increase results.
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  20. #19
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by View 1 View Post
    Great article tom. How do you feel about setting this up on M,W,F rotation with an upper/lower split so your hitting each muscle group 3 times in 2 weeks?
    You can definitely do a M/W/F split. I would go with something like this:

    Monday: Chest & Back
    Wednesday: Lower Body
    Friday: Arms & Shoulders

    Quote Originally Posted by View 1 View Post
    Also when you say 5 to 10 sets is that for both complexes?
    Yes, the entire training session volume for working sets is between 5-10 sets. This generally consists of something like (4) sets of 2 part complexes, (3) sets of 3 part complexes, or (2) sets of 4 part complexes. Sometimes with a very high intensity complex you perform only (1) 4 part set and (1) 3 part set, similar to the training video that was included along with the article. You can also add in 2-4 sets of accessory work but the total volume should not exceed 15 sets per workout as this is a demanding program.


    Quote Originally Posted by View 1 View Post
    And do you ramp up the weights each set going heavier and heavier until the last set, or do you ever do a complex as a straight set, say 3 complexes for 3 sets same weights for each complex? And what do you think about mixing them say complex #1 working ramping the weight up, and complex #2 doing them as straight sets?
    Very good question.

    It is obviously important to warm up properly, and I will generally do either a light total body warmup along with some specific muscle group warmups before jumping into any heavy or high intensity work.

    With regard to doing progressive sets, it really depends on your goals. If you are interested in bodybuilding / overall fitness / athletics then I would just do strait weight and try to keep a good pace between the complexes. I have done this before with something like this:

    Endurance / Athletics Complex:
    Trap Bar Deadlift (500 lbs) / Front Squat (225 lbs) / Weighted Chins (BW + 25 lbs)
    The objective was to run through this 3 times and hit 10 reps on all of the movements. On the final set I believe that I only hit 7 with the deadlift, and ended up doing the chins with just BW due to fatigue. All of the sets were completed with a maximum of 30 seconds rest (9 continuous sets).


    Another variation would have been to rest between the complexes and just try to hit the numbers each time around. The reason that I did it without rest is that it was at the end of a workout and I was doing this to build overall GPP in place of traditional cardiovasular training, and I wanted to really push my lactic acid tolerance.

    If you were looking for a more strength focused program then you might do something like this:

    Lower Body Strength Complex:
    Front Squat / Back Squat / Hack Squat
    300 lbs x 10 / 300 lbs x 10 / 2 plates per side x 10
    345 lbs x 5 / 345 lbs x 5 / 2 plates per side x 10
    385 lbs x 3 / 385 lbs x 3-5 / 2 plates per side x 10

    These complex sets would be performed with 3-5 minutes rest between them, and minimal rest from movement to movement. It also addresses your question below about using multiple pieces of equipment. For this complex you are doing a (3) part complex but only using two barbells/machines.


    Hopefully this makes sense. If you have a specific application I can recommend a routine that would be best suited for those goals.

    Quote Originally Posted by View 1 View Post
    I also realize there is no set complexes but do you have any more ideas as during peak gym hours some complexes would be near impossible. I mean I couyld do simple things like flat or incline DB press, then 1 arm DB rows, then pushups, but what about the lower leg complexes that is where it becomes more tricky.

    Sorry I know I threw alot of questions at you.
    It can be tough to secure multiple pieces of equipment, but the premise of this program is generally to begin with compound exercise(s) and then move on to isolation movement(s).

    Here is an example for Beginner & Intermediate Trainees:

    Incline Barbell Press / Flat Dumbell Bench / Pushups (or) Bench Press / Flat Bench Dumbell Flys / Feet Elevated Pushups
    For the first complex you will need two pieces of equipment, and for the second you only need one (busy gym). I will generally leave my weight belt or something similar on the piece of equipment and try to do circuits in close proximity if possible. At most gyms there are selectorized machines that are almost always available and so that is a great 3rd leg for the complex. You don't have to "reserve" them since in many cases you have options (more than one chest press / pec deck / etc.).


    Here is another example for Advanced Trainees:

    Incline or Flat Barbell Press / BW Chins / Standing Push Press / Bent Rows
    Surprisingly you can actually do all of this in the power rack as long as it has a chinning bar. You can start the set with say 235 lbs - (1) 45 and (2) 25's on each side of the bar. Hit a clean 7-10 reps on the bench press then right away jump up and hit 7-10 BW chins. Strip the 25's off the bar and slide the bench back then push press 185 lbs for 5 reps. On the final clean bring the bar down just as you would after a power clean and place it on the floor. From here you can do bent rows or pendlay rows to finish off your back. This may seem a bit complicated but it is really quite easy and efficient.


    Sometimes you have to be a bit creative. A good way to finish off a complex is a single dumbell movement such as the following:
    - One-arm dumbell rows
    - Concentration curls
    - Overhead Dumbell extension
    - One-arm dumbell press
    - One-arm dumbell snatch

    This makes it easy to throw in a final exercise that will really burn you out and test your limits without having to tie up a lot of equipment.

    Hope this helps!
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  21. #20
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    Hey Tom, my goal is to get where you were very lean and big, what would be the fastest way to get there? Here is a little info about me, Im 5foot3 at 213 to 215lbs around 15to20% bf, my lifts are bench 3x5 at 275lbs, military press 3x5 at 185lbs squats 5x3 at 290lbs dl 475lbs for 1 and 5x3 at 390 to 400, im currently taking in about 250grams of protein and about 3800 to 4000 cals, Im currently following Ron Harris wanna be a body builder program for advance lifters but been doing 5x5 or 5x3 for the big lifts and 3x8 for the rest, Thanks for any help

  22. #21
    The Flyfisher rbtrout's Avatar
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    Great read, Tom. I've been thinking about incorporating the bear complex into my DE lower body day.
    Give chalk a chance.


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  23. #22
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I tried them today, you can see it in my journal. All I can say is they were tough, and it was just an upper body day I never thought 35 lb. db. curls could feel so heavy...
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  24. #23
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    Thanks for all the feed back tom you explained it perfectly.

    As for a specific goal, I have always lacked conditioning ( I dont play sports or do GPP so its my fault ) so the conditioning would be important to me, and in regards to size and strength that is about 50/50 with me as I truly believe you need both ( want to be bigger you need to get stronger and wise versa ).

    Right now I am lacking alot of motivation as one of my closet friends recently passed away but in the future this is something that I would be interested in trying out because it gives me an all around routine that would touch on size, strength, and conditioning at the same time. I have done BB complexes in the past and they are no joke, I realize that to continue training like this week in and week out takes alot of intensity and you have to ready for the mental part of it, I have spent the 6 months really working on my form and it has payed off, I know realize that the intensity needs to be stepped up if I want to get to the next level.

    One more question I do have is if I was set up on the 3 day routine you suggested how would you set up a arms and shoulder complex?
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  25. #24
    JERSEY IRON Brian C's Avatar
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    You can't find info like this...Thanks so much Tom, im learning a lot in this post
    Last edited by Brian C; 09-03-2009 at 07:48 PM.
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  26. #25
    Pro Strongman | Moderator Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al19067 View Post
    Hey Tom, my goal is to get where you were very lean and big, what would be the fastest way to get there? Here is a little info about me, Im 5foot3 at 213 to 215lbs around 15to20% bf, my lifts are bench 3x5 at 275lbs, military press 3x5 at 185lbs squats 5x3 at 290lbs dl 475lbs for 1 and 5x3 at 390 to 400, im currently taking in about 250grams of protein and about 3800 to 4000 cals, Im currently following Ron Harris wanna be a body builder program for advance lifters but been doing 5x5 or 5x3 for the big lifts and 3x8 for the rest, Thanks for any help
    It sounds like you already have some good size at 5'3 210+ lbs, so at this point I would say that you would want to focus your program on recompositioning (improving bodyfat %). Your protein intake is ample but you may want to moderate your calories a bit and keep it right around maintenance level. This will allow you to maintain bodyweight while burning fat and increasing muscle.

    When you are looking for a balance of strength and physique I really like
    a program like this (complexes). What I will typically do is take a compound exercise and perform a high intensity set and then continue that set either as a drop set or by moving on to an isolation movement and performing a low intensity set with no rest. Another way to utilize complexes would be to stick with your 5X5 program for your primary movement for each muscle group, and then perform all of your accessory work broken up into 1-2 complexes. This is a great way to devote energy to both strength building and hypertrophy / conditioning in the same workout.

    If you would like to discuss additional specifics of your program just let me know.


    Quote Originally Posted by rbtrout View Post
    Great read, Tom. I've been thinking about incorporating the bear complex into my DE lower body day.
    Thank you. It is a fun way to change things up with your training and there are quite a few variations that you can perform. You can be creative and come up with fun challenges for yourself each week.

    You can even do one for upper body such as:

    - Barbell Curl
    - Barbell Front Raise (or standing military press)
    - Overhead Barbell Extensions (French Press)

    or

    - Penlay Rows / Pushups - Pick a manageable weight like 135 lbs and then do one pendlay row and one pushup, then 2 & 2, 3 & 3, etc. working up to 10 & 10. From what I have heard a lot of the armed services do workouts like this with progressive rep loading for bodyweight exercises.



    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I tried them today, you can see it in my journal. All I can say is they were tough, and it was just an upper body day I never thought 35 lb. db. curls could feel so heavy...
    The weights can definitely sneek up on you, but the good part is that since you are using some heavy weights at the start of the complex you really do not have to worry too much about the weights for the secondary movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by View 1 View Post
    Thanks for all the feed back tom you explained it perfectly.

    As for a specific goal, I have always lacked conditioning ( I dont play sports or do GPP so its my fault ) so the conditioning would be important to me, and in regards to size and strength that is about 50/50 with me as I truly believe you need both ( want to be bigger you need to get stronger and wise versa ).

    Right now I am lacking alot of motivation as one of my closet friends recently passed away but in the future this is something that I would be interested in trying out because it gives me an all around routine that would touch on size, strength, and conditioning at the same time. I have done BB complexes in the past and they are no joke, I realize that to continue training like this week in and week out takes alot of intensity and you have to ready for the mental part of it, I have spent the 6 months really working on my form and it has payed off, I know realize that the intensity needs to be stepped up if I want to get to the next level.

    One more question I do have is if I was set up on the 3 day routine you suggested how would you set up a arms and shoulder complex?
    Sorry to hear about your friend; sometimes training can be a good outlet for emotions though.

    As for the biceps / triceps / deltoids day in the complex routine, there are a lot of options here. If you wanted to just use one piece of equipment you could do something like the complex posted above with a curl / shoulder press / overhead extension.

    I like to generally start off with a heavy movement and then work my way down, so I might do something like this:

    Example Workout for Biceps / Triceps / Deltoids:

    Complex 1:
    Close Grip Bench Press (3-5 reps) / Seated Dumbell Military Press (5-7 reps) /
    Triceps Pushdown (8-10 reps) / Upright Rows or Side Raises (8-10 reps)
    *Perform this complex for 3 sets, progressive workload on the first two exercises and steady weight for the final two movements.

    Complex 2:
    Barbell Curls (5-8 reps) / Rope Hammer Curls (10 reps) / Alternating Dumbell Curls (8-10 reps per arm)
    *Perform this for 2-3 sets, no need to change workload or intensity.

    Optional Accessory Work:
    Bodyweight Dips, Rear Delt Flyes, Concentration Curls.


    This arm workout may seem relatively simple but when you use the correct loads can be very challenging and will give you both strength and hypertrophy, while also keeping your heart rate up.

    Note: I would be careful with pre-workout "pump" drinks, as these could sometimes have a negative impact on your training. I have gotten my arms pumped to the point where I could not grasp a barbell. The vast majority of these products are not worthwhile anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C View Post
    You can't find info like this...Thanks so much Tom, im learning a lot in this post
    Thank you - I am glad that you enjoyed the article.
    Last edited by Tom Mutaffis; 09-04-2009 at 08:42 AM.
    ASC 105 Kg Pro Strongman | My Website | Facebook Fan Page

    Weight: 235 lbs | Front Squat: 510 lbs | Overhead: 375 lbs | Deadlift: 700 lbs

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