Anyone who says training arms isn’t “functional” is dead wrong. (That person may also have puny pipes, but now we’re getting petty, sorry.) First of all, isolating the biceps and triceps with single-joint exercises will boost your performance on big compound moves like bench press and overhead press. Also, if for whatever reason you want bigger arms (say, because it looks good and feels good), curls and extensions become highly functional moves especially when used in this high volume superset routine.
Chris Kellum of the Florida Army National Guard agrees, which is why he put together the below biceps-triceps-forearms routine. If training guns is good enough for our military men and women, it’s good enough for anyone.
This workout is part of Kellum’s Hybrid Warrior training program for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Other workouts in this series include:
Featured trainer: SPC Chris Kellum is a sniper team infantryman in the Florida Army National Guard. A NETA-certified personal trainer and member of the Bravo Sierra team, his mission is to inspire others by incorporating fitness and military on his YouTube channel and documenting the process of transitioning to a warrant officer to go to flight school. All of his workouts can be found on his Playbook fitness app.
Workout overview: The beauty in Kellum’s arm routine lies in its combination of simplicity and high volume — familiar mass-gaining exercises done in classic superset fashion, with 14-plus sets each for biceps and triceps.
“This circuit workout is designed to minimize your time in the gym while chiseling your arms,” says Kellum. “Each superset will include one biceps and one triceps move, which will allow for an insane pump in the arms. To be successful with this workout, make sure to track your rest between sets. Shoot for 30- to 45-second breaks when you complete a round of a circuit. Rest periods are brief because, in theory, your biceps are resting while
you perform your triceps sets, and vice versa. If you feel 30 to 45 seconds is too much, you can shorten the rest or cut it out completely. If you think it’s too little rest, add some time, but no more than 60 seconds between supersets.”
Chris Kellum’s “Hybrid Warrior” High Volume Superset Routine
Warmup (12 minutes)
Jump Rope: 3-5 minutes
Band Curl: 15 reps
Band Triceps Pressdown: 15 reps
Foam Rolling on sore areas
Circuit 1 (4 Rounds):
Close-Grip Bench Press: 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
Barbell Curl: 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
Rest 60 to 90 seconds
Circuit 2 (4 Rounds):
Bodyweight Dip: 20 reps
Seated Hammer Curl: 12 reps
Rest 30 to 45 seconds
Circuit 3 (4 Rounds):
Triceps Extension: 12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Curl (R): 12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Curl (L): 12 reps
Rest 30 to 45 seconds
Circuit 4 (1-2 Rounds):
EZ-Bar Curl (inner grip): 7 reps
EZ-Bar Skull Crusher: 7 reps
EZ-Bar Curl (outer grip): 7 reps
EZ-Bar Chest Press (inner grip): 7 reps
Rest 45 to 60 seconds
Circuit 5 (1-2 Rounds):
Dumbbell Wrist Flexion: 12 reps
Dumbbell Wrist Extension: 12 reps
Rest 45 to 60 seconds
Exercise Ball Crunch: 3 sets, 30 reps
Mason Twist: 2 sets, 40 reps
Side Cable Twist: 3 sets, 15 reps
Plank Hold: Max time
Rest 15 seconds between exercises.
High-Volume Superset Routine HIIT Cardio
Perform this cardio protocol after the above circuits and core workout, or in a separate session.
Directions: Alternate between sprints and rest – sprint the distance listed, then rest the amount of time it took to complete the sprint. For example, if it took you 3 minutes to run 800 meters, rest for 3 minutes then start the working sets. If it takes 90 seconds to run the first 400-meter sprint, rest 90 seconds before the next.
2 x 400m sprints
2 x 200m sprints
4 x 100m sprints
Close-Grip Bench Press: If an Olympic bar bothers your wrists, says Kellum, try an EZ-bar. Keep your elbows tucked in tight and focus on the triceps.
Barbell Curl: Perform this move standing, using a shoulder-width grip on the bar. Go as heavy as possible while still maintaining strict form.
Bodyweight Dip: Dips can be performed with either standard parallel dip bars or with a bench (bench dips). Put the focus on the triceps by keeping your torso as vertical as possible.
Seated Hammer Curl: Hammer curls can also be performed with a cable (using the rope attachment) or a resistance band (grabbing the band itself instead of using the handles). With cable and band hammer curls, do the move standing.
Triceps Extension: This can be either a standing or seated overhead extension, using a dumbbell, EZ-bar, cables, or resistance band.
Incline Dumbbell Curl: Keep your upper arms perpendicular with the floor throughout. Turn your palms out at the top and squeeze the contraction.
EZ-Bar Curl (inner grip/outer grip): A narrower (inner) grip will emphasize the outer portion of the biceps, while the wider (outer) grip will target more the inner biceps.
EZ-Bar Skull Crusher: Use whatever grip (inner or outer) is more comfortable and that allows you to “feel” the triceps contraction the most.
EZ-Bar Chest Press (inner grip): When you do these at the end of Circuit 4, treat it as a “burnout” with a relatively quick tempo. You should feel a good burn in the triceps.
Dumbbell Wrist Flexion: Squeeze the forearms hard at the top and get a good stretch at the bottom with your hands dropping below your forearms.
Dumbbell Wrist Extension: Flip your hands over and extend your wrists as high as possible at the top so you feel a good burn on the back of the forearms.
Exercise Ball Crunch: With the ball, you’re able to get a greater range of motion at the bottom of the rep. Go down until the backs of your shoulders touch the side of the ball.
Mason Twist: Sometimes referred to as a Russian Twist, sit on the floor with your feet up, knees bent, and torso and thighs forming a V shape. With your hands together, lower them to the floor right off to the side of your hip by twisting your torso, go back to middle, and go to the other side. Do reps continuously side to side.
Side Cable Twist: This is similar to a wood chopper, only with the line of pull coming directly from the side, not from up high.
Plank Hold: Shoot for a 2-plus-minute hold; if you repeat this workout, try to beat your score the next time out.