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Sasan Heirati is looking to make a huge impression in the IFBB pro ranks, and one thing is certain—Heirati is unlikely to be let down by his arms. At 22 and 21 inches (the right one is slightly bigger than the left), they’re not lacking size, but, as always with Heirati, it’s about the quality rather than just mass. However, he wasn’t born with impressive pipes. “When I started bodybuilding at 14, I didn’t have good arms, but they grew quickly,” he says.
Constant tension, slow negatives, and midpoint squeeze have been his watchwords for growth. Yates-style 30-minute workouts with just one or two working sets per exercise are not for him. A typical Heirati arms session lasts 60 to 90 minutes and can contain 40 sets, which proves there is no single route to growth.
What’s curious about Heirati’s approach, though, is that although his sets are high, his reps are low. “I swear by six to 10 reps for all body parts except quads, which I’ve found respond better to high reps,” he says.
Lots of short sets punctuated by 60 seconds of rest is his favored approach. “I like to keep the pump going,” he says. “I train at a good pace and rarely go beyond failure. A lot of people say pump training doesn’t grow muscles, but I disagree, and a lot of greats have trained this way.”
The low-rep range enables him to combine heavy weights and volume, but the poundage is always secondary to maintaining the pump and the mind-muscle connection.
“People often use too much weight,” says Heirati. “Arms are the body part above all others where you should keep the weights moderate and focus on the squeeze, contraction, and the eccentric movement.”
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1 | ROPE HAMMER CURL 4 X 10
“I change this some weeks with dumbbell hammer curls, but I prefer the rope version because you get constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. You’re feeling the muscle, not the weight.”
2 | BARBELL CURL 4 X 6
“Again, keep your elbows pinned back and really focus hard on the negative part of the movement. Power the bar up, fast and explosive, then at the top, squeeze and lower it for a three- to four-second count. The slow negative is key. I often do this with an EZ-bar.”
3 | STANDING DUMBBELL CURL 4 X 8
“For this exercise I keep my elbows pinned back instead of bringing them forward. I don’t fully extend at the bottom. Go for a really big squeeze at the top of the movement, pause for a second, then bring the dumbbells down.”
4 | CLOSE-GRIP PUSHUP ON BAR 4 X 12
“I got this exercise from Arnold. It’s like a basic pushup, but by doing it on a secured raised bar you can bring your head below the level of the bar to get more of a stretch. You can also try this with a wider grip.”
5 | CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS 4 X 6–8
“I like a grip about shoulder-width apart. If it’s too narrow, you’re not in a strong position, and it puts too much pressure on your wrists. My range of motion is quite short. I don’t lock out at the midpoint or bring the bar right back to my chest, because that would bring in chest and delts. You have to have very good form on this movement–no ego training!”
6 | ROPE PUSHDOWN 4 X 12
“Keep your elbows close to your body and try not to lean over the rope too much. Don’t lock out, but do pause just before the point of lockout to keep that contraction going.”
7 | Superset V-BAR TRICEPS EXTENSION/ V-BAR BICEPS CURL 3 X 10
“I do this as a warmup. For the triceps extensions, stand close to the machine, keep your elbows tight to your body, and stop just before lockout. Go straight into the curls. I curl to my forehead, as it isolates the biceps more.” – FLEX