Whether you’re the modest type who only exposes enough skin to stay cool when summer breaks or the daring type who’s never afraid to bare it all during bikini season, having a pair of impressive arms is an absolute must–no matter how much skin you plan on showing off. After all, if the first lady can create a buzz about her arms, so can you. And it doesn’t have to mean endless sets of curls in the gym. All you need is the right program that’s designed to work them from every possible angle. That way, you can spend less time working out your arms – and more time showing them off!

The mix that makes it possible

There’s a reason why you may not be happy with your upper arm development. It’s like anything else – you’ve always been a blonde, you only like chick flicks and you only have one purse (and it’s ho-hum black). No surprises, no changes. And it’s the same in the gym. You may stick with the same tried-and-true exercises that position your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing up. But to carve perfect biceps you need to constantly change the angle of your hands and arms and the position of your body as you curl. The more variations you mix into one routine, the more muscle fibres you’ll target, and the quicker you will build a set of enviable, well-defined guns.

Oxygen’s biceps program uses a range of repetitions – from eight to as many as 15 – to incorporate both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibres for better overall development. To gain strength and see definition even faster, this program also overloads your muscles by using compound sets

– performing two biceps exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. By doing two moves in succession, you lengthen the amount of time your biceps stay under tension, which causes them to recruit more muscle fibres and rebuild stronger after each and every workout.

Another bonus: Performing two exercises with no rest boosts the intensity of the workout by raising your heart rate, causing you to burn additional calories and fat. Less rest between sets also means you’ll spend less time training, so you’ll experience an intense, effective workout in far less time.

The workout

Use this four-week routine in place of your usual biceps program twice a week, preferably after your back work-out, resting three days between sessions.

Weeks 1 and 2: You’ll perform eight reps of the first exercise, then immediately after do 10 to 12 reps of the second exercise. Rest 60-90 seconds, then repeat the compound set twice more (for a total of three sets) before moving on to the next compound set.

Weeks 3 and 4: You’ll perform 10 reps of the first exercise, then immediately after do 12-15 reps of the second exercise. Rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat twice more (three sets in total) before moving on to the next compound set.

Wide-grip cable curl

TARGET MUSCLES: biceps brachii (inner head)

SET-UP: attach a long straight bar to the low attachment of a weight stack, grab it with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, then step 30-60cm away from the base of the cable station.

ACTION: Keeping your arms tucked into your sides, slowly curl the bar up to shoulder height. Lower the bar back down slowly.


Tip: It’s easy to let the weight stack pull your arms back down after every rep – don’t! Letting the bar drop quickly only cheats your biceps from benefiting from the negative portion of the lift.


V-bar cable curl

TARGET MUSCLES: biceps brachii, brachiallis

SET-UP: Clip a v-shaped bar to the low attachment of a weight stack and grab the handle with an underhand grip. Step away from the stack and let your arms hang down in front of you.

ACTION: Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the handle until it reaches your chest. Pause, then slowly lower the bar back down.


Tip: To reach more muscle fibres, try lowering your hands 3cm down the v-bar after each set. This will move your hands closer together, which hits more of the outer portion of the biceps.




Preacher bench barbell curl

TARGET MUSCLES: biceps brachii

SET UP: Stand at a preacher-curl station holding a light barbell with both hands, palms facing up. Rest your upper arms on the slanted
pad in front of you.

ACTION: Keeping your back straight, slowly curl the barbell up until it reaches your shoulders. Slowly lower the weight back down without locking your arms and repeat.

TIP: Pay attention to your head. If it moves back and forth, you’re using momentum to curl the weight and robbing yourself of results.


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