Anyone who says that arm training is not "functional" is completely wrong. (This person may have measly whistles too, but we're getting petty now, sorry.) First of all, isolating the biceps and triceps with single joint exercises will improve your performance on large compound movements such as the bench press and overhead press. Even if for some reason you want bigger arms (e.g. because it looks and feels great), curls and extensions become highly functional moves, especially when used in this high volume superset routine.
Florida Army National Guard's Chris Kellum agrees, which is why he created the biceps-triceps-forearm routine below. If gun training is good enough for our military, it's good enough for everyone.
This workout is part of Kellum's Hybrid Warrior Training Program for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Other workouts in this series are:
Recommended trainer: Spc Chris Kellum is a sniper infantryman in the Florida Army National Guard. A NETA certified personal trainer and member of the Bravo Sierra Team, its mission is to inspire others by integrating fitness and the military his YouTube channel and document the process of transitioning to a warrant officer to attend a flight school. You can find all of his workouts on his Playbook fitness app.
Equipment needed: Jump rope, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbell, EZ bar, weight plates, dip bars, cables, exercise ball
Time required: About 45 minutes
Training overview: The beauty of Kellum's arm exercises lies in the combination of simplicity and high volume – well-known mass building exercises in the classic Superset manner, each with over 14 sets for biceps and triceps.
"This circuit training was designed to minimize your time in the gym while you chisel your arms," says Kellum. “Each superset includes a biceps and a triceps movement that allow an insane pump in the arms. To be successful with this workout, you should record your breaks between sets. Take 30 to 45 second breaks when you finish a lap of a circuit. Rest periods are short because theoretically your biceps will be resting while you rest
You do your sets of triceps and vice versa. If 30 to 45 seconds are too long for you, you can shorten the rest or leave out completely. If you think there is not enough rest, add some time, but no more than 60 seconds between supersets. "
Courtesy Bravo Sierra
Chris Kellum's "Hybrid Warrior" high volume superset routine
Warm up (12 minutes)
- Jump rope: 3-5 minutes
- Tape curl: 15 repetitions
- Band Triceps Pressdown: 15 reps
- Foam rolls on sore spots
Round 1 (4 rounds):
- Close-grip bench press: 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
- Barbell curls: 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
- Rest 60 to 90 seconds
Round 2 (4 rounds):
- Body weight dip: 20 repetitions
- Sitting hammer curl: 12 repetitions
- Rest for 30 to 45 seconds
Round 3 (4 rounds):
- Triceps Extender: 12 reps
- Dumbbell Curl (R): 12 reps
- Dumbbell Curl (L): 12 reps
- Rest for 30 to 45 seconds
Round 4 (1-2 rounds):
- EZ-Bar Curl (inside grip): 7 repetitions
- EZ-Bar Skull Breaker: 7 reps
- EZ-Bar Curl (outside grip): 7 repetitions
- EZ-Bar Chest Press (inside handle): 7 repetitions
- Rest 45 to 60 seconds
Round 5 (1-2 rounds):
- Wrist flexion with dumbbells: 12 repetitions
- Dumbbell wrist extension: 12 repetitions
- Rest 45 to 60 seconds
- Exercise Ball Crunch: 3 sets, 30 reps
- Mason Twist: 2 sets, 40 reps
- Side Cable Twist: 3 sets, 15 reps
- Plank Hold: Maximum time
- Rest 15 seconds between exercises.
High-Volume Superset Routine HIIT Cardio
Perform this cardio protocol after the above circles and core workout or in a separate session.
Directions: Alternate between sprints and breaks – sprint the specified distance, then rest for the time it took to complete the sprint. For example, if it took you 3 minutes to run 800 meters, rest for 3 minutes and then start the work sets. If the first 400 meter sprint takes 90 seconds, rest 90 seconds before the next one.
- 2 x 400m sprints
- 2 x 200m sprints
- 4 x 100m sprints
- Close-grip bench press: If an Olympic bar bothers your wrists, says Kellum, try an EZ bar. Keep your elbows firmly drawn and focus on your triceps.
- Barbell Curl: Do this movement while standing and use a shoulder-width grip on the bar. Go as hard as you can while still maintaining strict form.
- Bodyweight Dip: Dips can be done with either standard parallel dip bars or a bench (bank dips). Focus on the triceps by keeping your torso as vertical as possible.
- Sitting Hammer Curl: Hammer curls can also be performed with a cable (with the rope attachment) or a resistance band (grabbing the band yourself rather than using the handles). Perform the movement with cord and tape hammer curls while standing.
- Triceps Extension: This can be either a standing or sitting overhead extension with a dumbbell, EZ bar, cables, or a resistance band.
- Inclined dumbbell curl: Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor at all times. Turn the top of your palms outward and squeeze the contraction.
- EZ-Bar Curl (inside handle / outside handle): A narrower (inner) grip emphasizes the outer part of the biceps, while the wider (outer) grip aims more at the inner biceps.
- EZ-Bar Skull Crusher: Use the handle (inside or outside) which is more comfortable and allows you to "feel" the triceps contraction the most.
- EZ-Bar Chest Press (inside handle): If you do this at the end of Circuit 4, treat it as "burnout" at a relatively fast pace. You should feel a good burn in your triceps.
- Wrist flexion with dumbbells: Firmly squeeze your forearms at the top and stretch well at the bottom as your hands drop under your forearms.
- Dumbbell wrist extension: Turn your hands over and straighten your wrists up as high as possible so you can feel a good burn on the back of your forearms.
- Exercise Ball Crunch: The ball will give you more range of motion at the bottom of the repetition. Go down until the back of your shoulders touches the side of the ball.
- Mason Twist: Sometimes called the Russian Twist, sit on the floor with your feet pulled up, knees bent, and your torso and thighs forming a V-shape. With your hands clasped, lower your hands to the floor right next to your hips by twisting your torso, go back to the center, and go to the other side. Repeat continuously from side to side.
- Lateral cable twist: This is similar to a wood chopper, only the pull line is coming straight from the side, not the top.
- Hold planks: Shoot for a 2 minute stop; If you repeat this workout, try to beat your score next time.