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SIX WEEKS TO SICK ARMS: OVERVIEW

The workout is guaranteed to add inches to your arms and overall physique.

SIX WEEKS TO SICK ARMS: OVERVIEW

When I used to train back in the day at Gibson's Gym in Manchester, Connecticut, one of the slogans on the back of the Gibson's Gym T-shirts read, "It doesn't matter what kind of car you drive. What matters is the size of the arms hanging out of the window."

Big arms not only symbolize masculinity, they're also the most visible body part and the one that essentially announces to the world that yes, you are strong and muscular, and yes, you are a weight lifter. It's no surprise that big arms seem to be what every guy, and even many women, want. Since getting big arms is a common goal that almost all of us have, I figured it made perfect sense to give you a program aimed at building them up.

The Sick Arms Protocol

Regardless of where you're starting from, this six-week program will put a noticeable amount of size on your arms. I've gotten feedback from hundreds of thousands of people after completing "Six Weeks To Sick Arms." The majority added one inch or more on their arms.

The program is a progression that ramps up the training frequency (how often you train arms each week). Once a week in Week One, twice a week in Week Two and three times per week in Weeks Three through Five, and then in Week 6, back off to just once per week again. Don't worry: There's a method to this madness.

Week One is designed to annihilate your biceps and triceps. You'll pull out all the stops, using negative rep training to destroy every single muscle fiber you can in the arms. You'll need a good week to recover from this. Week Two gets into it with light weight and high reps. Volume will be low on these workouts, as you'll still be recovering from the previous week. These workouts will help you recover from the previous week and will get you ready for the crazy three weeks that are to come.

In Weeks Three, Four and Five, you will be hitting arms three times per week. If that sounds like overtraining, you're right. But overtraining doesn't happen immediately; it takes several weeks to become overtrained. The technical term for training that can lead to overtraining is called "overreaching." However, research shows that if your diet is adequate in calories, protein, carbs, as well as the right supplements, then you can actually capitalize on overreaching and turn it into a way to grow bigger and stronger. Don't worry, I've got you covered on a diet and supplement plan to ensure that you turn the training into distinct gains.

Several studies from the University of Connecticut have shown that when subjects overreach for several weeks, during the two weeks following, they grow significantly bigger and stronger while taking it easy. The key is to stop the overreaching just before it turns into overtraining. That's why you'll be training arms three time per week in Weeks Three through Five, then switch it up to just once per week in Week Six. I also suggest that the week after Week Six, you take it fairly easy on your arms and train them just once that week before getting back into any serious training programs.

The Six Weeks Break Down

This six-week program is a progression that ramps up the training frequency (how often you train arms each week) each week until Week 6 when you back off again. Here's a snapshot of each week:

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Stairway To Muscle

The three-day a week arm training not only is designed to shock your muscles into growing with frequent and intense workouts that cause overreaching, but it also takes advantage of the "staircase effect" for building muscle.

This refers to the fact that training activates genes in muscle fibers that are responsible for many of the adaptations that take place, such as muscle growth and strength increases. Consistent training activates certain genes that result in building more muscle fiber protein, which means more muscle size and strength. These genes are typically activated over hours, with some remaining activated for days. Repeated workouts, if timed appropriately, can build upon the activation of the genes to reach an even higher activity level and thus, greater muscle growth, or the "staircase effect."

Let's say a certain gene involved in muscle growth is activated by a workout to the point that that its activity is boosted by 100% following the workout, then slowly declines in activity over the next few days so that the day after the workout it is still up by 75%, and the second day after the workout it is up by 50%, then the third day it is up by just 25%, and finally on the fourth day after the workout, it's back to the original level.

If you performed the workout on the fourth day after the first workout or later, then that gene would be bumped back up to 100% of its originally activity. However, if you worked out on the second day after the first workout, when the gene was still up by 50%, then you could potentially bump up its activity to 150%. This could lead to even greater muscle growth and strength gains than if you waited to train again after the fourth day or later. This is one reason why training a muscle group every 48 hours could lead to even greater muscle growth and strength gains than training every seven days.

Overreaching Outlined

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Six Techniques for Sick Arms

This program is not all about training frequency. While moving to more frequent workouts can help you build extra size on your arms, to really get them up there in size will require pulling out all the stops. Intensity techniques, like negative reps, drop sets, forced reps, rest pause, and super sets will be key in forcing them to grow. These techniques will not only put more stress on the muscle, but they are also known to boost growth hormone levels.

A study from Finland reported that subjects doing forced reps increased GH levels 3 times higher than when they just stopped after reaching muscle failure. That extra growth hormone will be put to good use initiating muscle recovery and growth that will get that tape measure stretching. Another study reported in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that subjects using negative rep training led to high GH levels.

Another key element to this program is the constant switching up of weight and rep ranges every workout to keep your arms growing. This is known as "periodization." Research confirms that using periodization, which is the continual cycling of weight and rep ranges, produces the greatest gains in muscle size and strength. One form of periodization that appears to work well is called undulating periodization. This is simply the constant switching up of weight and rep ranges every workout. Research studies from both Brazil and the University of Connecticut have supported this form of training for making continued gains.

Here are the six common intensity and training techniques that you will employ during the Six Weeks:

Technique #1: Negative Rep Training For negative reps, use a weight that is about 20% heavier than your one-rep max and have a spotter help you through the positive portion of the rep. You should be able to lower the negative rep slowly for 3-5 seconds. Negative reps place more stress on the muscle fibers to cause more muscle damage. When you damage muscle fibers, they're replaced with new ones called satellite cells (basically muscle stem cells) that grow bigger and stronger than the older fibers. If you train alone and don't have a spotter, you can do one-arm negative reps on a Smith machine, as I explain in this video:

 

 

Technique #2: Overreaching This technique pushes the muscle fibers to their limit, causing them to momentarily get weaker and smaller. But once the training slows down, the muscle fibers rebound by growing bigger and stronger.

Technique #3: Undulating Periodization This is simply the constant switching up of weight and rep ranges every workout. Research studies from both Brazil and the University of Connecticut have supported this form of periodization for making continued gains.

Technique #4: Drop Sets This is a technique that allows you to take a set past muscle failure. Once you reach muscle failure, immediately reduce the weight by 20-30% and continue the set until reaching muscle failure again. This not only puts more stress on the muscle fibers, but also helps to boost growth hormone levels higher.

Technique #5: Rest Pause This is another technique that allows you to take a set past muscle failure. To use rest-pause after reaching muscle failure, rest 15 seconds and then continue the set. This not only puts more stress on the muscle fibers, but also helps to boost growth hormone levels higher.

Technique #6: Supersets In some workouts, you'll use supersets, which is the pairing of two exercises back-to-back with no rest between exercises. In some workouts, you pair biceps and triceps exercises for supersets. In other workouts, you pair two biceps exercises together and two triceps exercises together, for supersets that are referred to as compound sets. This really blasts the muscle fibers and pushes growth hormone levels higher.

Pain And Gain

Since you'll be training arms almost every other day during Weeks 3 through 5, you may be worried about your arms being sore when you train them. Don't be; research from Japan shows that when subjects workout intensely to cause muscle pain, and train that muscle again just two days later, and again four days later, it doesn't impede recovery -- it can actually help them grow. One study found that when subjects trained the same muscle group just two days, the catabolic hormone cortisol was lower. Since cortisol competes with testosterone, having lower cortisol levels during and after workouts can make you more anabolic and allow your testosterone to better enhance muscle growth.

Anatomy of Big Arms

Another critical element to growing big arms is targeting all the heads of the biceps and triceps, so you need to understand the anatomy of the arms.

Big Biceps Anatomy: The biceps are composed of two heads. There's the long head, which is the outer head of the biceps. It is considered the long head because it originates higher on the shoulder (the back side of the scapula, or shoulder blade) than the short head. This is the biceps head that makes up the biceps peak when you flex it.

The short head, or inner head of the biceps, originates on the front side of the scapula. Both biceps heads converge onto the same tendon, which attaches to the ulna and radius (forearm bones) to cause flexion of the elbow, such as occurs during barbell curls, as well as supination of the forearm (turning the forearm out), such as occurs during supinating dumbbell curls.

There are several ways to perform curls that focus on the long head. The first trick is to do curls with your arms behind your body, such as incline dumbbell curl and behind-the-back cable curls. Another trick involves doing curls with the upper arm turned in toward your body, such as concentration curls and close-grip barbell curls. A third trick is to use more of a neutral grip on curls, such as hammer curls, rope hammer curls and EZ-bar curls.

There are two main ways to focus more on the inner head of the biceps when you curl. First, do curling exercises with the arms in front of the body, such as preacher curls and machine curls. The second way is to do curls with the upper arms turned out, such as high cable curls, wide-grip barbell curls, or dumbbell curls bringing them out toward your sides.

In addition to the biceps, there is also a deeper muscle located on the front and outside of the arm, beneath the biceps, known as the brachialis. It attaches to the lower part of the humerus (upper arm bone) and crosses the elbow joint to attach to the ulna (forearm bone). The brachialis flexes the arm, such as during hammer curls and standard curls, but gets the most focus when you curl your arm with a neutral grip, such as hammer curls, or rope hammer curls, and when you curl with an overhand grip, such as reverse-grip curls.

Big Triceps Anatomy: As the name implies, the triceps are composed of three heads: the long head, which makes up the the majority of the mass of the triceps high up and on the back of the arm; the lateral head, which makes up the mass of the triceps on the side of the arm; and the medial head, which makes up the mass of the triceps on the lower inside part of the arm.

The three triceps heads all start on different locations. Unlike the lateral head and medial head, which start on the humerus bone (upper arm bone), the long head actually starts on the scapula (shoulder blade). All three heads converge onto one tendon, which crosses the elbow joint so that the three heads can

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