Armblasting Secrets of Size and Power

Don Z. Ross (October 6, 1946 – June 2, 1995) was a professional bodybuilder, wrestler and weight training coach from California. He performed under the names ‘Ripper Savage’ and ‘The Bronx Barbarian’f.The following olschool arm training article was published in 1977 – Mr. Berg

“Adding extra arm size may be quite a problem for the advanced bodybuilder. The arms are accustomed to more work than any other muscle group above the waist. Most upper body exercises also work the arms. This area, then, is used to a lot of work and it would take a lot to provide enough stimulus for added growth. The same problem comes up with calf development. In the case of calves, you would add a lot of sets and arms, this doesn’t hold true. The reason is that the arms can be overtrained and actually lose size and strength.

One solution is to increase your training intensity by cutting down on rest periods between sets. Step-bombing is an ideal way of achieving this. Step-bombing involve starting with a weight that you can do ten reps with easily. Resting only seconds between sets, add five pounds to each set until you are down to one rep. At this point, do each set until no more reps can be performed as you take off five pounds with each set. Continue with just seconds rest until you are back to the original weight.

An ideal way to step-bomb (if you train in a gym) is to start at one end of the dumbbell rack and work your way to the other end, then back again.

The two best exercises I found for step-bombing are standing dumbbell curls and single dumbbell two-arm French presses. Follow this method for six weeks and you should see progress.

Now you are ready for Arm Specialization Program 2. Its purpose is to bomb all the muscle fibers in the arms including those that are seldom used in the typical arm program.

How to Cheat Fair
Training advice is often a paradox. How many time have you heard “Always use proper form. Never Cheat on your exercise just for the sake of using a heavy weight.” How true this advice is if you want to get the most out of your routine. There is, however, a cheating principle. When utilized correctly, this is a great size and strength builder. Cheating, in this case, doesn’t mean using sloppy form. Cheat properly! How is this done? By following the rules to cheat by:

1. Perform the exercise using a heavier weight than you can use in proper form. Use body momentum to help to lift the weight.

2. Lower the weight slowly, never let it drop down. This is the most important part of the exercise.

3. A strict exercise for the same muscle should follow the cheat exercise.

The advantage of the cheat exercise is that you are handling heavier weights and putting more of a load on the muscle. In lowering the weight slowly, you work that muscle through its entire range with that heavy weight. This builds tendon strength and works underlying muscle fibers thoroughly.

In the Arm Specialization Program, begin with cheat curls. Swing the bar up to your chest. Hold for a split second, then lower slowly. Do 3-5 sets of six reps. Through the chest curls, you’ve received maximum tension on the muscle during the extension of the arm. The next exercise will do the same during the contraction. The best biceps exercise of this nature is the Concentration Barbell Curl.

This is done with your arms over a board or curl bench set at a right (90 degrees) angle. At this angle, you get a high degree of resistance throughout the movement. The same exercise over an incline provides high tension at the beginning of the exercise, but little resistance beyond that point.

Use a curling bar and take a close grip. Do 3-5 sets of six to eight. Have a training partner help you get an extra rep at the end of each set.

Wake Up Sleeping Brachialis
The Brachialis muscle, between the biceps and triceps, is rarely discussed in gym conversations. Nevertheless, working this muscle directly with reverse grip curls will add size to your arm quickly. If you haven’t been doing this exercise, the Brachialis will respond like your muscles do when you comeback from a lay-off or first begin to train. The gains come fast. Isolate your upper arms by standing with your back against a wall. Do 3-5 sets of ten to twelve reps.

Bombing Unused Muscle Fibers

Since the myth of weight training harming the athlete has been dispelled, coaches in every sport are utilizing this fine method of conditioning to boost their athletes toward record breaking performances. As a result, much research has been done all over the world to discover the best training methods for the fastest results. One of the most important discoveries made is that the muscles are made up of two types of fibers. The slow twitch fibers are brought into play by movement against heavy resistance. All power lifting exercises work these fibers. These fibers are also brought into action by high repetitions. High reps also increase the number of capillaries and build stamina, muscular endurance.

The second type of muscle fiber is the fast twitch fiber which is activated only by quick movement. Small samples of muscle tissue have been taken from top athletes in various sports. From these, it was determined that those who excelled in slower, endurance and strength events had a considerably higher ratio of slow twitch fibers making up their muscles.

Marathon runners, lifters, etc., may have as high as a 4-1 ratio of slow to fast fibers. Speed athletes such as sprinters likewise have a much higher ratio of this type of fiber that responds to quick movement. Just as with the amount of muscle tissue you have, this ration is something you were born with and cannot be changed.

Just like the slow twitch fibers, the fast twitch fibers can be enlarged and strengthened through resistance training. Quick movements with barbells or dumbbells would be ineffective because momentum takes over and you don’t get the proper resistance.

If you have access to isokinetic equipment, a set of high rep curls at fast speed would do the job. Since most of you don’t have this kind of equipment (and it is pretty expensive for the average person), curls using a cable (or expander) set could be done with an emphasis on speed. Another advantaged of using the cables is that resistance is increased toward the end of the movement where barbell and dumbbell resistance lessens. This high tension the point of maximum contraction, will add that much sought-after biceps peak.

It will give you the “Muscle-on-muscle” look. Cable sets are very inexpensive. All bodybuilders should have one. Do one set of 20 reps for each arm.

Time your reps and try to complete your set faster with each workout.

For your final biceps exercise, here is another great peak-builder. Lie down on a bench placed under a lat machine or overhead pulley, keeping your elbows pointed up. Curl the bar to your chin. This exercise provides pressure throughout the movement, including the point of maximum contraction. Do one set with a wide grip; one set with a medium, shoulder width grip, and your final set with a close grip. Do 10-12 reps.

Bombing Triceps
The triceps make up the largest area of arm mass. It is a powerful muscle which is used to some degree in most upper body exercises. Strengthening this area will add pounds of strength to your benchpress and overhead lifts.

A common complaint among bodybuilders is sore elbows from triceps work. To prevent this, start with an exercise that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the area. Do your various triceps presses after your triceps are tired from this first exercise. You will then need less weight for the same results. We won’t need any cheat triceps movements since the basic exercises you do with this program (to be discussed later in this article) will serve this purpose.

The push down on the lat machine or overhead pulley is great for a primary pump and a warm-up for the elbow joints. Begin with a close grip (hands thumbs-spaced apart). Keep your upper arms against the sides of your body. Your elbows are pointed straight down through the entire exercise. Push your hands straight down until the elbows are locked out. Don’t lean into the bar! Do two sets of ten reps. Repeat the same  exercise using a shoulder width grip for two more sets. Conclude with two sets using a wide grip. Each of the grips puts emphasis on different heads of the muscle. This brings out the much sought after horseshoe shape.

Now for the power and bulk builder –
the Single Dumbbell French Press. Take a dumbbell in both hands and hold it overhead. Lower it slowly behind the head, keeping the elbows pointed straight up. Now drive the dumbbell back up until it’s locked out overhead. Use a weight that you can do 8 reps with. Try to force out a ninth and tenth rep. Rest a few seconds and do your second set with the same weight. Of course, you will be down in reps. Go to a lighter dumbbell and repeat this for two more sets.

Where the two previous exercises emphasized primarily lower half of the three triceps’ heads, our next movement will blast the upper section. Put a towel or rope through the handles of a wall pulley, so when you take a grip your palms face each other. Kneel with your back to the pulley and your elbows and upper arms across a low bench or stool. Let your arms back as far as they will go. Now extend them all the way. Flex at the point of contraction. Do 6 sets of six reps.

To work the fast twitch fibers and also for the upper triceps, do the one-handed French press using the cables. Take one handle in your left hand and hold it firmly keeping the elbow locked and the arm perfectly straight. Hold the other handle in the right hand, palms down, elbows up overhead. Extend the arm as fast as possible as you did the dumbbell French press. Do one set of 15 reps for each arm.

For a final pump, do two sets of isolated triceps kickbacks. Take a fairly light dumbbell in each hand. Kneel beside a bench with your shoulders, chest and arms on the bench so your upper arms are flat against your body with your elbows pointed back. Extend your arms until they are straight behind you. Do this for twenty reps.

Don’t Forget Your Forearms!
For a balanced arm development, don’t forget to exercise your forearms. It’s not advisable to specialize on any other body part while on this program, however, don’t neglect this area. With your forearms over the top of a bench, hold a barbell in your hands (palm up). Let the bar roll down your fingers until it is being held by your fingertips. Now close your hands and roll your knuckles up toward your wrists. You can step-bomb with this exercise for five sets of 10-20 reps. Forearm specialization will be discussed later.

A Word on Specialization
Perform this routine two or three times a week depending on your energy output and recuperative powers. Don’t do any upper body work on the other days. You might train legs and mid-section on those days, using leg presses or hacks, leg extensions, leg curls, crunches, hyperextensions and heel raises on the calf machine.

When specializing on any body part, it is best to stick to a few basic exercises for the other muscle groups. When specializing on arms, for example, your basic, general exercises for your other body parts will also work the arms to a degree. Pick two exercises for each body part, working each area at two angles (to work more muscle fibers). Keep your reps and sets low. This will stimulate all-over growth without burning off excess energy or losing bodybuilding elements that we want to reserve for the area undergoing specialization.

Here is an ideal upper body program to use with the arm specialization course:




Collar Level Benchpress



Bent Forward Dips (with wt)



Press Behind Neck



Front Press



Upright Row



Bent-Over Row



Chin-ups (wide grip)



Use a weight that you can handle fairly easy for the first set. On each set thereafter, rep out (until no more reps can be performed). Use this program for six weeks, increase your protein intake, and prepare to grow.

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