Growing your arms is actually pretty simple: Isolate your biceps and triceps with curls and extensions (respectively), hammer these moves from Logan Carpenter with volume and intensity, and make sure you’re pounding protein the rest of the day. Repeat weekly. (And don’t forget to train all your other major muscle groups!)

This arm prescription has worked for Air Force Security Forces member Logan Carpenter, and it can work for you, too. His “deployment inspired” work is below.

Featured Trainer: Logan Carpenter is currently stationed in Grand Forks, ND, serving as an Active Duty Air Force Security Forces member and acting unit trainer. While balancing the life of being a father, accomplished powerlifter, and active duty service member, Carpenter is also an ambassador for Bravo Sierra, Bare Performance Nutrition, and the Get Better Today Brand.

Equipment Needed: Dumbbells, EZ-curl bar (and plates), preacher or incline bench, cables. (If training at home and/or you don’t have this equipment available, the workout can also be done with resistance bands only.)

Time Commitment: Around 30 to 40 minutes.

Post-Workout Nutrition: When you’re done with the workout, you’ll want some protein and carbs shortly after to kickstart the muscle recovery process. One intriguing (and convenient) option is The After Bar, a unique CBD-powered, plant-based protein bar that boasts a favorable protein-to-carb ratio specifically designed to be consumed after training. It tastes great, too.

Workout Overview: As we showed you in one of fellow military athlete Aaron Marks’ recent workouts, the biceps and triceps are great for supersetting because they work in direct opposition (biceps flex the elbow, triceps extend it). But each of them individually also responds well to a specific type of superset: the compound set.

A compound set (as defined decades ago by M&F founder, the late Joe Weider) is two exercises for the same muscle group performed back-to-back with no rest. Meaning, two biceps exercises, or two for triceps, as opposed to pairing a biceps and a triceps move (a traditional superset). Compound sets are great for targeting an individual muscle, particularly if it’s a lagging body part, as the rush of blood and pure exhaustion encountered in that one area can translate to a boost in size and strength.

Carpenter’s workout features three compound sets — two for triceps, one for biceps — plus two biceps exercises performed with standard straight sets (i.e., do a set, rest, repeat). With 17 sets total for biceps and 18 total for triceps, training volume for these two relatively small muscle groups is high, and the compound sets deliver the intensity.

“This workout is fast paced, simple, and effective,” says Carpenter. Tried and tested by many with the same results, this routine will deliver some monster pumps. Hit the reps, complete the sets, and stay within the timeframes, and you’ll be wondering why your arms feel like they’re tearing apart in no time!”

Logan Carpenter’s ‘Arm Expansion’ Workout

Warmup: “Before I do this workout,” says Carpenter, “I like to work in some static stretching to avoid any unnecessary cramping or even potential injuries.”

The Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
–compound set with–
5 10-12
Dumbbell Curl 5 10-12
Spider Curl 4 12
Cable Pushdown
–compound set with–
5 10-12
Cable Overhead Triceps Extension 5 10-12
Dumbbell Kickback
–compound set with–
4 10
Diamond Pushup 4 To Failure
EZ-Bar “Tempo” Curl 3 21

Rest Periods: Within compound sets, don’t rest between the first and second exercise. After the second exercise in the superset, rest 60 seconds. For non-compound-set exercises (spider curl, EZ-bar tempo curl), rest 60 seconds between sets. If training with a partner, rest time should be however long your partner takes to finish his/her set.

Exercise Notes

  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl: Keep your palms facing each other from start to finish, keeping your upper arms stationary and up against your sides. You should feel this on the thumb side of your upper forearms, as well as in the biceps.
    Band version: Stand on the band to anchor, and hold the band itself (not the handles) with the hammer grip.
  • Dumbbell Curl: Dumbbell curls can be done either seated or standing, both arms at a time or individually (alternating sides every rep).
    Band version: Stand on the band to anchor, keeping your palms pronated throughout.
  • Spider Curl: The spider curl is similar to a preacher curl in that it’s intended to fully isolate the biceps. Carpenter recommends using an EZ-curl bar and a preacher curl bench — standing in front of it and draping your upper arms over the top and down the back (vertical) side of the bench. However, spider curls can also be done lying facedown on an incline bench with your arms hanging straight down toward the floor.
    Band version: Anchor the band at floor level, step back from the anchor point to create tension, and do curls on your knees, keeping your upper arms in front of your torso throughout.
  • Cable Pushdown: Use the cable attachment of your choice: straight-bar, EZ-bar, V-bar, rope, etc. Keep your elbows in tight to your sides; don’t let them flare out.
    Band version: Anchor the band overhead, and either hold the handles or the ends of the band (the latter of which mimics a rope pushdown).
  • Cable Overhead Triceps Extension: Using a low to mid pully setting on the cable column and a rope attachment, perform an overhead extension (keeping the upper arms stationary and elbows in tight) facing away from the weight stack with your body upright.
    Band version: Anchor the band at floor level, grab the ends of the band, and use the same technique as the cable version, facing away from the anchor point.
  • Dumbbell Kickback: Kickbacks can either be done one arm at a time or both simultaneously. Make sure your torso is parallel with the floor throughout, with your upper arm(s) parallel as well and your elbow(s) in tight.
    Band version: Anchor the band in front of you at around floor level. Facing the anchor point, grab the ends of the band, step back to create tension, lean over at the waist so your torso is parallel, and perform two-arm kickbacks in this position.
  • Diamond Pushup: Touching the ends of your thumbs and index fingers on the floor beneath you so they form a diamond shape, do as many push-ups as possible (to failure) per set. Make sure your elbows bend at least 90 degrees on every rep.
  • EZ-Bar “Tempo” Curl: On this standing barbell curl (using a cambered/EZ-bar), do a two-count negative on the downward descent of each rep; Carpenter advises to count “two Mississippi” to strike the right tempo. On the positive portion, curl the weight up forcefully with a standard rep speed (around 1 second on the positive).
    Band version: Same technique as the band version of the dumbbell curl, only with the added two-count-negative tempo.
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