Summer Time Arms - Mind And Muscle

huge bicepsSummer Time Arms by: Jimmy Smith, CSCS

We’re getting close to Memorial Day. At time of writing we are nine weeks out, that’s nine weeks to finish building the best body you want. Now is also the time that I start specializing on certain body parts with my clients. I work with the areas that they need to develop, since they are the ones that are the most noticeable. Nothing, nothing sticks out more than a good set of arms on men or women. So we have nine weeks to Memorial Day and it’s a good thing that this program will give you incredible arms in only eight weeks.

Anatomy Lesson

Before we can set out to build massive arms we need to know what we’re working on. We’re going to focus on three muscles, the Triceps, Biceps and Brachialis.


The Triceps brachii muscle is made up of three individual heads, the Long head, Lateral head and Medial head. While they all have different origins they all have the same insertion, which is the elbow. Their prime movement is extension of the elbow. It is important to note that the Long head extends the arm behind the body, which will allow us to specifically train it with certain exercises.


The Biceps brachii is a small muscle; it crosses both the shoulder and the elbow. The prime movement of the Biceps brachii is elbow flexion, as well as supination of the forearm.


The Brachialis is often ignored when individuals attempt to increase arm size. It runs right under the Biceps brachii. The Brachialis acts as an elbow flexor and is actually the strongest elbow flexor. Maximum development of this muscle is critical if one wants to build their biceps to supreme size!

Program for Da Peaks

This program is designed for an eight-week jump start to your arm training. For the majority of individuals, arm growth stagnates various reasons so the first four weeks are going to be spent on training your arms in ways you’ve never trained them. To steal a quote from eight time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, “Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight!” For anyone that has ever seen a clip of Ronnie training there is one thing that stands out, his intensity. Traditional hypertrophy (muscle size) settings call for 60% of your 1RM. While nothing is wrong with that percentage, there is another way around it. Lifting at 60% of your 1RM stimulates your Type 1 or slow twitch muscle fibers. While good for size gains they do not have the growth potential of Type 2 or fast twitch muscle fibers, which are called into use during the last few reps or a 10-12-repetition set. How do we get around this issue and stimulate the fast twitch fibers? We do this by lifting at a higher intensity, aka ‘lifting heavy ass weight’.


There is one critical factor that needs to be considered when determining what rep ranges to use – Time Under Tension (TUT). Understanding the concept of tempo is very much a key to enhancing gains. Each rep is nothing more than the time that the working muscle is under tension. It is well established that to induce metabolically adaptations, one should strive for sets that last between 20-50 seconds. If a tempo is written 301, that means we lower the weight in three seconds, no pause on the bottom and lift it as fast as possible.

Weeks 1-4

As previously mentioned, the first four weeks will be dictated to getting you out of your rut and into explosive arm training. To do this we are going to target the Brachialis. The two most effective ways to do this are with an overhand or hammer grip. In order to stimulate the muscle differently we’re going to focus on both grips. Our first exercise is a barbell reverse curl.

Program Set-up

Body part Sets Reps Tempo
Barbell Reverse Curl 5 2-4 311
Dips 5 2-4 401

Rest 1:30

Bodypart Sets Reps Tempo
Close Grip Bench Press 5 2-4 321
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 5 2-4 311

Rest 1:30

The periodization of this block is so that each week you’ll do another set of two repetitions. So the first week your first exercise my look like this –
Dips – 5 sets – 4 reps, 4 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps

The last week the same exercise may look like this –
Dips – 5 sets – 2 reps, 2 reps, 2 reps, 2 reps, 2 reps

Weeks 4-8

Now is the time to really see those peaks develop. We’re going to slightly raise the overall volume while still hitting those type IIb muscle fibers. By raising the volume and frequency of arm training, as well as developing a higher cross sectional area based on the first four week training, we are now primed to move heavier weight for more reps more often.

Our aim is once again to target the Brachialis, as well as all three triceps heads, so the same exercises as listed above are going to be our core exercises, but the exercises used for the first four weeks are not to be repeated during this phase. We’re going to use two advanced principles during these weeks, drop-sets and isometric holds. These aren’t your traditional ‘run the rack’ drop-sets nor are they cluster or rest pause training. You are not going to be picking your 2RM and then dropping the weight or resting for ten seconds. Okay, you understand about the drop-sets, but why use isometrics? It has been found in many bodies of literature that during isometric muscle actions almost all motor units can be recruited. Why is this important to me? Do I just want to get big? Recruiting more motor units will lead to a increase in neural efficiency, which will lead into great force production potential, which then leads to you moving more weight, which is the basic principal of muscular overload.

The way that these two principles will be used is as follows. For day one you will use a 4RM and once the fourth rep is completed you will hold the weight at 90 degrees of either flexion or extension for 3-6 seconds. Once you have reached your allotted time goal you will then drop the weight by five pounds and proceed to do 2-4 more reps, finishing with a 3-6 second isometric hold on your last rep at 90 degrees.

Program Set-up

Day 1

Bodypart Sets Reps Tempo
Decline EZ bar Triceps Extension 4 4(2-4) 311
Incline Dumbbell Curls 4 4(2-4) 401

Rest 1:15

Bodypart Sets Reps Tempo
Incline EZ bar Triceps Extension 4 4(2-4) 401
Close Grip Ez Bar Curls 4 4(2-4) 311

Why Are My Sleeves Ripping?

So there you have it, your eight-week jumpstart to new arms for beach season. Go ahead, do it if you want them bad enough, but don’t come crying to me about all the new attention you will be getting.

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