Pain Free Arm Workout
By: Robert Maalouf BS, CSCS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
Do you get any pain in your elbows or wrists when training arms? Or want to avoid getting pain in these areas? Then try this workout and let me know what you think by commenting below or on Facebook!
I have been getting a lot of questions about arm training lately. Mainly, people have been asking me how to train their arms without getting wrist and elbow pain. Before I get into all that, I want to lay out a few things. I will prescribe a workout that should help build your arms with minimal wrist and elbow issues; however, I will assume that you are training your compound push/pull exercises with heavy weights and at least 1-2 times per week. Personally, I don’t train arms very often; I just don’t see the need. If you are training your compound movements with good form and relatively heavy weights, your arms should be growing. Regardless, we all get excited for an arm pumping workout every now and then, so I will go ahead and share one of my workouts with you. I usually train arms when I feel my body needs a break from all the heavy compound movements and so, I don’t use heavy weights for my arms workout. This arm workout will consist of isolation movements, and it’s important to remember that we don’t need very heavy weights for isolation movements to yield results.
Most people want bigger arms from the first day they enter the gym. That’s the reason we see everyone rushing to the dumbbells to perform bicep curls. There is nothing wrong with that, however, most people think that if they throw around some massive weights in what’s supposed to be a bicep curl that their arms will get bigger, but that’s where we are wrong. If you want to move some big weights that’s great, but do so in compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, rows and presses…Isolation movements such as bicep curls and triceps extension aren’t meant to be performed with heavy weights, in fact the movement and time under tension is more important than how much weight is used. Furthermore, most people train arms too frequently, and the repetitive use alongside heavy weights lead to pain in the wrists and elbows.
First stop using the biggest dumbbells for bicep curls and stop maxing out the weight stack for cable extensions. Make sure and focus on the movement and make sure you feel the muscles working instead of pain in your joints. The fact that you will switch to lighter weights with controlled movements will relieve your joints and furthermore, the selection of exercises for this workout are exercises I have tried for myself and my clients who have reported back minimal joint issues during these workouts. Also, make sure you control the tempo of each rep, that means you should take your time on both the way up and the way down.
All exercises in the workout are to be performed in a superset (SS) form, this means once the first exercise is complete, you move on to the next exercise immediately before resting. Recommended rest between supersets is about 60 seconds. Use the timer on your phone if necessary to keep track.
Cable Rope Press Down
- Working with the rope won’t allow you to use excessive weights while still stimulating the muscle. Be sure not to let the rope handles rest against each other; this will increase the work done by the triceps.
EZ Bar Curls
- Using the EZ bar instead of the Olympic barbell takes away some stress from your wrists.
Overhead Rope Extension
- Make sure and focus on getting a full stretch on the way down with the overhead extension and sure not to let the rope handles rest against each other throughout the movement.
Alternating Dumbbell Curls
- This is not a problematic exercise unless really heavy weights are used. So keep the weights moderate here and slow down the movement while trying not to swing your body excessively.
Single Arm Cable Extensions
- The nature of this exercise doesn’t allow for much weight. This will force you to focus on the movement and squeeze the triceps at the bottom of the movement.
Spider Dumbbell Curls
- This exercise doesn’t allow for much weight either. Be sure to keep your arms steady and squeeze you biceps at the top of the movement.
- The band will work great since it provides the greatest resistance where your triceps are strongest. Just make sure you use a band with appropriate tension, that may take some experimenting.
Kettlebell Hammer Curls with Bell in Front
- Grip tends to be a weak point in many lifters. If that’s the case, the start very light with this movement. Be sure to keep the bell in front of you at the top of the movement.
If you put it all together the workout will look like this:
Cable rope Press down 10-15 SS EZ bar curls 8-12 – 4 sets
Overhead rope extension 10-15 SS alternating dumbbell curls 10-12/side – 4 sets
Sinlge arm cable extensions 10-15 SS Spider dumbbell curls 10-15 – 4 sets
Band extensions 10-20 SS kettlebell hammer curls with bell in front 10-12 – 4 sets
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