Nate is a newcomer to popular YouTube channel Six Pack Shortcuts and let’s just say that he’s in insanely good shape. He’s ripped and looks tough and right from his first video introduction it’s very clear that he knows what he’s talking about and is a guy who you should be listening to.
One of the first tips he ever gave on the channel was this:
First thing in the morning, look at yourself in front of the mirror, and pose your guns. Now tell yourself you’re a badass.
Sounds silly? It’s actually a great bit of positive affirmation which is something we too often miss in our training. We’re so busy focussing on the parts of our body that we’d like to change, that we forget to tell ourselves we’re doing well. This kind of positive energy can translate to some truly excellent progress.
And he has a ton more excellent advice that can really make a difference to your training. Let’s start with his arms routine which is one of the best we’ve come across on YouTube for a long time.
This arms routine is a basic one. It’s focussing on the biceps and the triceps and giving them equal billing. This is important because actually the triceps make up 50% of the arm – hopefully something you’re well aware of by now.
The routine is going to place bicep and tricep exercises back to back. These aren’t supersets, but you’re going to be going straight from one set of moves to the next. This way you’re training the muscle followed by its antagonist. This ensures they’re going to be developed evenly and at the same time, it helps you to gain more strength because you won’t have so much force being applied in the opposite direction by the antagonistic muscle group. Four exercises is all it takes.
What’s really different about this routine though is the heavy focus on the eccentric portion of the movement. This is the point where the muscle is lengthening, as you lower the weight back to the starting position. This is also known as the ‘negative’ portion of the movement and by emphasizing that part, it’s possible to really increase the strength gains. Your eccentric strength is actually much greater than your concentric strength and so by focussing on this part of the movement, you can build more strength more quickly. What’s more, is that the eccentric portion is where you’ll create all those nice microtears. And by moving slowly, you’re increasing your time under tension overall.
You’re going to raise the weight as normal then, but lower it in a very deliberate fashion for a count of 3-5 seconds. You should really feel this working and it will maximize your growth like never before!
Nate recommends using a timer on your smartphone in order to make sure you’re really following that instruction. As a nice added bonus, this also ensures that you’re not texting or tweeting when you should be lifting!
Now you know the basics, it’s time to look at the moves themselves…
Standing Bicep Barbell Curl
The standing bicep curl is a nice classic movement. The barbell will force you to move both arms simultaneously and also prevents you from swinging into the movement. You’re going to be going very slowly on the eccentric and you should completely elongate the arm before moving back to the upward portion. You’ll be performing this for three sets of ten reps.
Next up come the tricep dips. You’re going to be performing these by placing your hands on a bench behind you and then lowering your buttocks towards the ground. Again, you’ll be performing the eccentric part more slowly – that’s the point where you’re lowering your arm (your triceps stretch at this point). Then you can explode upwards with this one, which will work the explosive fast twitch fibers in that part of the arm. Once again, perform three sets of ten reps.
Concentration curls are another form of bicep curl that lends itself perfectly to going slow and doing eccentrics. Here, you’ll be sitting on a bench with your elbow resting on your inner knee. Then you’ll be slowly lowering the weight as you count to four and then lifting it up as much as possible.
Not finding this hard enough? The great thing about a unilateral movement performed with an eccentric focus, is that you can go way past failure. Once you can’t lift the weight any more, use your free hand to help yourself lift it up. Now continue to lower in a controlled manner. You may find that eventually you can’t even lower it for 1 second, let alone five. Feel the burn!
Rope Push Downs
Finally, you’ll finish with some good old cable rope tricep push downs. The four second negative will be when the weight handle is coming back upwards to the starting position. Remember, if the bicep is lengthening, the tricep must be contracting and vice versa.
Count to four seconds as you bring this back up and make sure that you’re going all the way to full extension on each movement. That means you might want to stand with your hips a little further back, so that you can completely straighten your arms.
And there you have it, an awesome workout that combines two powerful concepts: hitting antagonistic muscles and using eccentric exercises. The result is one of the best techniques for growing your muscles to extraordinary sizes and at the same time increasing your actual strength in the gym. Of course you can switch out the individual moves with something different if you prefer.
Don’t just use this technique for your biceps and triceps – it’s something that more and more people are using and it’s really effective at giving you that shredded look. Once you give it a proper go, you won’t look back!