Menacing Arms

Stimulate your muscles with heavy, intense training.


Photos by Ian Spanier

“I pyramid up on each exercise. For the first set, I’ll do 12, then 10, then the last set I’ll pick a weight with which I’ll probably only be able to get eight. I train by myself most of the time, so I just go to the point where I feel there’s no extra rep in it and stop. That’s failure for me. When you train by yourself, you need to know where your limit is.

A lot of people who rely on training partners go to failure, but if they ever have to train by themselves, they’re lost — they really don’t know when the energy’s gone. I know exactly when I’ve reached my last one, when I’ve only got one more and that’s it.” 

“I go to the gym to stimulate my muscles with heavy intense training — that’s all I’m trying to do. I want to get in and get out in less than an hour. If you analyze your training, you’ll see you don’t need more than that. For instance, if you do 12 sets for a bodypart, how long is that going to take you? Each set takes maybe 30 seconds, but even if you figure a minute, that’s 12 minutes of pure training time. You rest a minute in between sets, that’s 24 minutes and you’re out! People don’t realize that, because they talk too much when they’re at the gym.” 


“Sometimes I’ll do these on an incline bench, sometimes flat, sometimes with a cambered bar and sometimes with dumbbells, but I’ll never skip French presses. They’re bread and butter for me. They’re what give me the full triceps look that I have — they stretch the muscle all the way down. For my triceps workout, I always choose three exercises total each time, but I’ll always include French presses.” At the top of the movement, James angles his arms back slightly, which keeps the triceps engaged throughout the range of motion.


Concentrate and annihilate. Doing curls one arm at a time doesn’t allow for a stronger arm to compensate for a weaker one, as barbell and machine curls do. To squeeze out every last drop

of growth, visualize your biceps clenching and flexing on each rep, rather than simply moving the weight from point A to B.


James thinks about doing a front double-biceps pose during each rep to get the most out of standing two-arm cable curls.

 Dennis James' ARM WORKOUT 


  • Standing Barbell Curls | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
    • or Cambered-Bar Preacher Curls SETS: SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
  • Standing or Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
  • Standing Two-Arm Cable Curls SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
    • or Concentration Curls SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8 
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls (every other workout) SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8 

*All sets are pyramided.


  • Cable Pushdowns SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
  • Lying French Presses (cambered-bar or dumbbell) SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
  • Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
    • or One-Arm Cable Pushdowns SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
    • or Dips SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
    • or Dumbbell Kickbacks SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8

*All sets are pyramided.


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