Training Arms by Kristi Wills
I have been a fitness competitor for the past 2 ½ years, and because of this, I have revamped my arm workout several times. I have done this not only to get the best results for my physique, but also to keep my body guessing and to prevent boredom from setting in. It is very easy to get ourselves on a workout plan and be afraid to stray from it. However, you're not going to know what works best for you, unless you become a risk taker. Just like it can take you or a nutritionist a few years to find out what diet works best for you, it can take just as long to develop the weight workouts that are most beneficial to you. Therefore, in the following, I will give you some suggestions for what I think are the best arm exercises and some tips to go along with them.
When I first started training for competitions, I would train arms once a week and that would include triceps and bicep exercises. On a separate day, I would train shoulders. I would choose 3 triceps and 3 bicep exercises and do 3 sets for each. My reps would be 18-15-12. For triceps, I would do the curl bar pressdown, overhead extensions, dumbbell kickbacks, or machine pressdowns. For biceps, I would do bar curls, incline dumbbell curls, concentration curls, or standing dumbbell curls. For each arm exercise, I always make sure to do each rep in a slow, controlled motion, and I try to force out my last few reps. I do not use extremely heavy weight; rather I concentrate on my form and feel each contraction, as I isolate the muscle.
For my shoulder workout, I would do 5 exercises, 1 or
which focused on the rear delts. I would do 3 sets for each exercise
and keep my reps at 18-15-12. I would do the following exercises: barbell
overhead press, dumbbell side raises, dumbbell overhead press, and upright
rows. For the rear delts, I would choose 1 from the following: dumbbell
reverse flye or use the peck deck machine and have my body facing the
pad. Again, what's important is that you interchange some of these exercises
to keep your body guessing and also so you don't get into a rut. Also,
always remember to do each rep in a slow, controlled motion.
I am very fortunate to have great arm genetics, along with 10 yrs. of gymnastics training. In addition, my fitness routine is jammed pack with plyos and strength moves. Because of this, each time I practice my routine, I'm getting an awesome arm workout. As a result, I have had to change my weight workouts completely. I now do 2 full body workouts a week and each workout incorporates 2 shoulder exercises and 1 triceps exercise. I do dumbbell overhead presses and side lateral raises for my shoulders. For my triceps I do curl bar pressdowns. For each of these exercises, I do 3 sets and my reps are still at 18-15-12.
rom the past few years, I have found the above exercises to be the most beneficial to me. As of now, I do not train my biceps because they were “too big” for a fitness competitor and they are being trained through my routine practice. However, now that I'm in the off-season, I will be talking to my nutritionist and we may be making some additional changes. My shoulders still need to be bigger and I need to make sure my arms stay symmetrical to my lower half. Therefore, I will need to continue to limit my bicep and triceps exercises and go heavier with my shoulders. It is during the off-season, that one has the time to put size on and to experiment with different exercises.
For a fitness competitor, once she's in season, it’s all about getting leaner and bringing out the work that was done in the off-season. More of her time is also spent doing cardio. During the off-season, I only do cardio for 4 days a week for half and hour. I don't do too much because I don't want to start burning off my muscle, especially if I'm trying to put some size on!
Remember, “Pain is temporary, but pride is forever.” If you do have to work out by yourself, be careful and make sure you psyche yourself up. When I'm alone, I think of my competition. I know they're out there working just as hard, and so, I need to find a way to work harder. At the end of a great workout, not only should you feel accomplished, but also you should feel tired!
* Kristi Wills in all photos and videos