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Get The Most Out Of The Least

I recently had one of the eager new faces at the gym ask me for advice on how to get big arms. Triceps specifically. It seemed that this young man wanted shirt splitting guns and deduced, rightly, that the triceps are the most essential muscle for this goal. He proceeded to take me through his routine that consisted of 10 or so variations of extensions with cables and dumbbells, kick backs, pressdowns, supersets, drops sets, forced, rep and so on. Despite the many exercises and instructions in this program, there was not one single mention of some heavy pressing, benching or dipping.  I soon learned that this young man did no close grip benching and had never tried a dip in his life. His “pr” on push ups was a measly 11.

Mr. Kettlebell himself, Pavel Tsatsouline, once stated that in Russian gyms trainees are not allowed to do any other triceps movement until they can close grip 225 for 10 reps. Though I’m sure, like much of Pavel’s stuff, this is hyperbole, I wholeheartedly agree with the idea. Using our example above, what would be a better use of time: training as listed or working to close grip bench at least bodyweight for 1 easy rep?

Though I hate to get lumped into the “all you ever need is the the big 3 (or 4)” crowd I think someone just starting out would be smart to do so, whether the goal is strength or aesthetics.

TRAINING

WEDNESDAY 3/19

  • Comp Bench: 235 x5 @7.5, 245 2×3 @8, 205 2×8 @ 8, 205 x11 @10
  • Deadlifts: up to 500 x1 @8.5, 455 3×3 @8.5-9.5 I felt awful today going into the session and this reflected that feeling
  • Close Grip Bench: 225 4×6

FRIDAY 3/21

  • Squat: 405 x1 @8.5 (yuck), 385 5×2 @ 7.5 – 8.5
  • Overhead press
  • Squat: 315 8×6 @ 8

SATURDAY 3/22

  • 14′ Deadlift: 525 x1 @9, 500 5×2 @ 8-9? these are 2 inches lower than I’ve done in the past and SUCK. The bar hits me in a real dead zone and getting the bar moving is torturous
  • Close Grip Bench: 225 x8 @9, 225 x5 @8.5….ah WTF….load drop 215 5×5 @8 – 9
  • Deficit Deads: 365 3×8 @8, 8.5, 9

MONDAY 3/24

AM

  • Front Squat: 335 x1 @8.5, 285 4×4 @8
  • Incline Press: 205 x8 @9, x6 @8, x6 @8.5, x4 @9

PM

  • Pin Squats: 315 x6 @7, 340 6×4 @8-9? another movement that is hard to judge
  • Neutral Grip Bench: 90 x8 @7.5, x8 @ 8, x8 @9
  • Hack Squat: up to 3 plates per side 2×15 @9 I can’t high bar at the moment due to a minor injury
  • Leg Curls: bunch of sets working my way up to 120 2×12

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