by Eric Bach
Challenging Supersets for Biceps & Triceps
After several years of hard training, your biceps and triceps get stubborn. Here’s how to spark new growth by doing four smart supersets.
If your arms haven’t grown since Obama’s first term, it’s time to light them up with some new challenges. The best way to shock your biceps and triceps into growing? Supersets – new ones you probably haven’t tried before.
So let’s do it. We’ll use two types of supersets to bring the heat:
- Antagonist Supersets: Pairing exercises with opposite movement patterns. Think of a classic push-pull or “front and back” superset. For example, pair biceps curls and triceps extensions.
- Agonist or Compound Supersets: Hit the same muscle group with two or more exercises to create an insane amount of metabolic stress. Since there’s little rest, there isn’t enough time for a muscle to flush lactate. This stimulates the release of anabolic growth factors. By fatiguing more muscle fibers, you’ll stimulate further growth. Example: triceps pushdown with dumbbell bench press.
1. 15-Degree Incline Dumbbell Bench Press + Incline Skull Crusher
The 15-degree incline bench press is a great chest, shoulder, and triceps builder. At 15 degrees, you’ll be able to use a heavy enough weight to challenge type-2 muscle fibers – those needed for high-intensity contractions. By doing the higher-rep incline skull crusher after, you’ll take advantage of increased muscle fiber recruitment to create even more muscle-building stress.
Using the slight incline on skull crushers allows you to create a longer range of motion, plus it’s more joint-friendly than a flat bench. You can use dumbbells or an EZ-bar.
|A1.||15-Degree Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8-10||30 sec.|
|A2.||15-Degree Incline Skull Crusher||3||12-15||1 min.|
2. Rotating Grip Chin-Up + Incline Curl
This is a challenging compound superset to build the long head (peak) of your biceps. Rotating attachments like Angles90 handles work great for the chin-ups, but so will standard rings.
The handles or rings force your grip to work harder while allowing a free range of motion through your wrists and elbows compared to a fixed bar. Perform heavy sets of 5-8 reps, taking a few seconds to lower under control. Add weight if needed. This exercise will improve muscle fiber recruitment, helping you fatigue more muscle fibers with the second exercise.
The incline dumbbell curl also smashes the long head. When your arms are behind your body, your biceps are fully stretched, allowing maximum activation and contraction when curling.
Use a challenging weight on the ring chin-ups and be more conservative on the incline curl, focusing on maximal contraction on each rep.
|A1.||Rotating Grip Chin-Up||4||5-6||1 min.|
|A2.||Incline Dumbbell Curl||4||8-10||1 min.|
3. Single-Arm Overhead Extension + Concentration Curl
This agonist superset will help you build the mind-muscle connection and maximize metabolic stress.
The single-arm overhead extension is a great exercise for honing in on the long head of your triceps. You’ll have a greater range of motion than using two arms, allowing you to focus.
Stand while holding one dumbbell in your hand behind your head. Initiate the movement by flexing your triceps to extend your arm straight overhead. Take 3-4 seconds to lower the weight on each rep, maximizing the stretch through your triceps. Pause and flex at the top of each rep.
The concentration curl addresses muscular imbalances between the left and right side while improving the mind-muscle connection. Keep your elbow pinned to the inside of your thigh.
Slowly curl the weight towards your shoulder. Hold briefly at the top, then slowly lower the weight back to the start, allowing full extension of the elbow joint. Don’t try to explode up from the fully stretched position. Focus and slowly contract.
|A1.||Single-Arm Overhead Extension||3||10-12||45 sec.|
|A2.||Concentration Curl||3||10||45 sec.|
4. Pinwheel Curl + 60-Second Farmers Walk
This superset will crush your forearms. Forearms grow better with frequent, high-volume training.
The neutral-grip hand position of the pinwheel curl will hammer the brachialis, which sits underneath the bicep, adds thickness to the arm, and pushes the bicep up, making it appear bigger.
The pinwheel curl differs from a hammer curl because it allows a slight “cheat” to get the weight up on the concentric. To maximize the exercise, focus on lowering under control.
The farmer’s walk smashes your traps, core, and muscular grip endurance. Use dumbbells or grab 45-pound plates (with handles) and do a 60-second farmers walk.
|A1.||Pinwheel Curl||3||10/arm||45 sec.|
|A2.||Farmers Walk||3||1 min.||90 sec.|
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