Where athletes are concerned, the biceps and triceps are ancillary muscles and need to be trained accordingly. After all, what good would it do a guy like Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay to hit arms for an hour on an off day when he could be squatting to build more lower body power and strength for greater throwing velocity?

“When we train smaller muscle groups, we do it at the end of the training session as part of an ancillary circuit mixed in with things like calf exercises and Russian twists,” says Lance Hooton, CSCS, who trains elite athletes in Austin, Texas, and designed the below arm routine.

“With arms, we rotate biceps and triceps every other training day. So if we work triceps on Monday, we come back the next training day and do biceps, maybe on that Wednesday [assuming a three-days-per-week training schedule]. On Friday we’ll do triceps again, then biceps on Monday, and so on.”

Exercise                                      Sets            Reps   
(Workout Day 1*)

Lying EZ-Bar Pullover                 4-6             10

(Workout Day 3*)

Standing Dumbbell Pullover        4                8

Exercise                                      Sets            Reps   
(Workout Day 2*)

Dumbbell Curl                              4-6                10

(Workout Day 4*)

EZ-Bar Curl                                   4-6                  8

*Perform the prescribed arm exercise at the end of your lifting session, after training larger bodyparts (chest, back, shoulders or legs).

Range of motion is key on pullovers. Get a good stretch behind the head with the elbows narrow and bent, not pointed outward. Focus on controlling the weight throughout the entire range of motion. Function is more important than how much weight is used.

Pullovers are great for “overhead athletes” like tennis, baseball and volleyball players, swimmers and javelin throwers. Plus, pullovers are a more functional way to train the upper arm, shoulder, upper back and chest as one unit – versus using isolation exercises.

EZ-bar curls tend to take pressure off the wrists as compared to using a straight barbell. But you can do curls with a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, since you may not have access to all equipment in every gym you go to, especially if you travel a lot.