Hard, Heavy and 50 Rep Hell Arm Building Program

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When it comes to arm training I like to use a 3-pronged attack:

  • Hit them heavy
  • Hit them hard
  • Hit them with a finisher

I start my sessions with the big hitters; exercises that involve barbells, dumbbells and heavy ass weight. From there, the arm-destroying festivities move on to volume training. I drop to 10 rep sets and blast out 5 sets per exercise.

Finally, after my biceps and triceps have had just about enough, I bring in the coup de grâce – a finishing movement. This finisher is brutal, intense, and makes sure you leave it all in the gym.

This program is stupid simple but it works. If you’re unsatisfied with your current arm size, and/or just need a change, try running this style of training for 2-6 months.

Make sure to tape your arm size each month so you can track progress. Let me know how things go by leaving a comment below.

What follows are the nuts and bolts of this program.

HEavy, Hard & Hell Workout
Triceps Training
Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press  6-8  *5 Rep Max
Volume Exercise  5  10
 50 Rep Hell Finisher Exercise  1  50
HEavy, Hard & Hell Workout
Biceps Training
Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls  6-8  *5 Rep Max
Volume Exercise  5  10
 50 Rep Hell Finisher Exercise  1  50

EZ Bar CurlsHard and Heavy Arm Building Program

This program works well with a conventional bodybuilding-style split. You can perform triceps after a pushing day such as chest or shoulders, and biceps after back training.

Another good option is to perform your tricep work on back day and biceps work on chest or shoulders day. This is an interesting and fun training variation that some of you might enjoy.

If you are an intermediate trainee you may also opt to run this program as a stand-alone arm day.

Hit Your Arms Heavy

For triceps you will be using close grip bench presses. Your heavy biceps exercise will be standing alternating dumbbell curls.

A heavy exercise will involve about 6 to 8 sets of 5 reps performed with 30 to 90 seconds of rest between each set. Rest until you feel ready to go again, but never wait longer than 90 seconds before attacking your next set.

You will be ramping the weight up here, moving from a lighter resistance to a final set that challenges your ability to complete a 5 full reps.

Close grip bench press weight will be increased in increments of 20 pounds. So if your close grip max is around 205×5 reps, start with approximately 95 pounds for your first set. Here is an example:

  • 95 pounds x 5 reps
  • 115 x 5 reps
  • 135 x 5 reps
  • 155 x 5 reps
  • 175 x 5 reps
  • 195 x 5 reps
  • 215 x 5 reps

As you can see, 7 sets were performed in this example. The lifter continued to add 20 pounds until the resistance felt extremely challenging and close to a near max effort set.

If you have a close grip bench press max about 300 pounds, it’s a good idea to use 30 pound weight increases.

Building Big Arms

If you are an intermediate trainee you may also opt to run this program as a stand-alone arm day.

Curls work a bit differently. With curls you will ramp up in 5 pound dumbbell increments. So if your max curl set is around 45 pounds for 5 reps, your heavy bicep work would look something like this:

  • 20 pounders x 5 reps
  • 25s x 5 reps
  • 30s x 5 reps
  • 35s x 5 reps
  • 40s x 5 reps
  • 45s x 5 reps

Performing heavy work in this manner not only results in a 5 rep max attempt, but it also functions as a rock solid warm up protocol.

Obviously, the first few sets will feel too easy. Stay the course and keep pushing. Cumulative muscle fatigue will kick in soon, making the last several sets effective and more challenging.

Don’t rest too long early on. Rack the weight, prep the next set, and hit it once you feel physically and mentally ready to go again. During the final few sets, it’s ok to rest a little bit longer. This will better allow you to attack heavier weight.

Hit Your Arms Hard

Machine Fuel

Fuel your hard working arms DURING your workouts by using MTS Machine Fuel.

Now that you’ve ramped your may to a heavy 5-rep set, it’s time for some volume work. Here you can really use any exercise of choice. When you are able to reach 5 sets of 10 reps each, add a small amount of resistance the next time you perform this exercise.

My suggested triceps exercises are:

  • Lying Triceps Extensions
  • Dips
  • Rope Cable Triceps Extensions
  • Two Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
  • French Press

For biceps the possibilities are near endless. Here are my 5 favorite choices:

  • EZ Bar Curls
  • Rope Cable Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Machine Curls
  • Concentration Curls

Not much else to say here. Volume work is volume work. Just keep challenging yourself with more resistance, when it makes sense.

Hit Your Arms With a Finisher – 50 Rep Hell

I call this protocol 50 Rep Hell. It’s a great way to cap off an arm training exercise. You can perform 50 Rep Hell once or twice, depending on how much energy and willpower you have left in the tank.

Here’s the key to this finisher:

You will perform 50 total reps WITHOUT setting the weight down.

Yes, you read that correctly. You will not set the weight down until you reach 50 total reps. If you are using a cable or machine, do not let go of the handles/rope and release the tension.

You may rest as often as needed to reach 50 total reps, but don’t let rest periods get too long. I try to only take several deep breaths when fatigue and pain set in. Then I get after it again.

The pump (and pain) here should be ridiculous, but very, very worth it.

For triceps finishers I suggest the following exercises:

  • Lying triceps extensions, rope extensions, assisted dip machine

For bicep finishers the following are good choices:

  • Machine curls, dumbbell curls, EZ curls

Final Thoughts

Break out of the boring workout mold and do something that challenges your arms in a different way. Each of these methods induces hypertrophy (muscle building), just using different mechanisms.

Don’t hesitate to insert your favorite exercise choices, and always add weight when it makes sense.

Editor’s note: Make sure to power your arm building sessions with the pre-workout formula that’s NOT a game: MTS Nutrition Clash. Flavors include apple mango, pink lemonade and orange.

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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.