Kevin English’s Off-Season Arm Routine

The 3X Olympia 202 champ shares the details of his intense arm training



This final

 biceps exercise is also good for building the peak. English does these slowly, flexing the whole time and contracting at the top for a full second. “You need to go all the way down and get a full stretch in order to get into the muscle fascia and cause it to grow bigger. A three-quarter movement won’t do that.” He does 60 pounds for this exercise and does no fewer than 10 slow reps per set.


This is the main mass-building exercise for triceps. English reminds me that the triceps is the larger muscle of the arm, not the biceps, so going heavy on triceps naturally leads to bigger arms. English goes up to 405 pounds on this exercise, which always requires a spotter. Using a shoulder-width grip, he keeps the elbows pulled in close to the body and his back fat on the bench while doing his three sets.


There are as many variations of this exercise as there are bars to use on the cable attachment. English prefers doing them with a rope. He arches his back while keeping his elbows as close to his body as possible and pushes down to a full extension. He never comes all the way back up because he wants to keep the tension on the triceps. He normally incorporates either dropsets—going down the stack in increments of 20 pounds until he can’t lift any more—or supersets with weighted dips, on which he uses a chain.


English finishes

of triceps with another superset—alternating single-arm pushdowns with pushups of a bench. Pushdowns are the only exercise on which he goes light. He’ll do 20–25 reps of them to push blood into the muscle as well as isolate it. “Single-arm movements are crucial. On a machine, you can push more with one arm than the other, so one can get stronger. You can’t do that with single-arm exercises,” he says. Immediately after a set, he jumps into doing 15–20 pushups, which he feels use a lot of secondary stabilizer muscles.


  • Mix up the workout—change angles, vary reps, superset
  • Drink a quick-acting protein immediately after training
  • Never compromise good form for heavy weight

Ever the ex-wrestler, English downplays the intensity of the workout, focusing more on the long-term results than the immediate pain as he thoughtfully says, “Bev always reminds me that up there onstage you’re all by yourself. You have to want a win for yourself and nobody else. I try to remember that every time I train.” FLEX

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