Big biceps and thick, horseshoe-shaped triceps are the goals of many bodybuilders and avid weightlifters.

If you’re looking to add size and definition to your arms, this is the perfect workout for you to implement into your routine. It’s a high-intensity arm workout that will get you in and out of the gym in under 30 minutes, supply an excellent pump, and leave you sore in the days to come.

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What is a superset?

Supersetting is a technique that involves performing two exercises back to back without resting in between. Biceps and triceps are two muscle groups that work really well with this specific training technique, as they are an antagonistic pair. An antagonistic muscle is one that opposes the action of another – in this case, the triceps relax in order for the biceps to contract, and vice versa. Utilizing supersetting in your training allows for increased intensity, increased blood flow, increased stress on the musculature, and an insane pump.

Biceps anatomy

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The biceps (biceps brachii) is made up of two muscles - the long head and the short head. The long head makes the coveted biceps peak in the arm and lies on the lateral portion of the biceps region, closest to the triceps. The short head is on the medial side of the arm and is positioned closest to the pecs and serratus muscles.

The two heads join together to act as one muscle. Tim Henriques, powerlifter and contributor for T Nation, summarized the functions of the biceps brachii best in stating that “Together, the biceps functions to flex (bend) the elbow, supinate the forearm (turn the palm up), and to weakly flex the shoulder (lift the upper arm forward).”

This workout hits both heads of the biceps to optimize your potential for growth.

Triceps anatomy

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The triceps are made up of three muscles – the long head, medial head, and lateral head. All three heads combine to provide extension at the elbow. To achieve thick triceps and/or anesthetic horseshoe shape of the musculature, all three heads must be trained heavily and consistently.

This workout will require you to hit all three heads of the triceps, and train the muscles from all angles.

The workout

1. Chin ups / Triangle push-ups

Start your workout off with a bodyweight superset, aiming for 4 sets of repetitions till failure. Rest 30-60s after completing this superset.

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Using an underhand grip, grab the pull up bar. Place your hands closer than shoulder width. Hang with the arms fully extended, trying to maintain a straight torso and push your chest out slightly. Exhale as you pull yourself upwards, trying to get your head at or above the height of the pull-up bar. Squeeze your biceps tightly at the top of the movement and then slowly return back towards the starting position. Do your best not to fully extend your arms as you complete repetitions as this keeps tension on your biceps throughout the movement.

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Get set up in a push-up position with your hands placed right beneath your chest in the shape of a triangle. Bend your elbows to lower your body towards your hands and exhale to push yourself back up once your chest reaches or almost reaches your hands. Keep your core tight and torso in alignment as you perform your repetitions.

2. Barbell curls / Close grip bench press

1-2 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 12-15 repetitions

Rest 60 seconds between sets.

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Hold the barbell at hip height using an underhand grip with your hands placed shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows pulled in tightly to your sides, exhale and curl the bar up towards your shoulders. Pause and squeeze your biceps tightly at the top of the movement and slowly return the bar back to your starting position.

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Lie back on a flat bench and place your hands on shoulder width or just inside of shoulder width along the barbell. Remember to keep your head on the bench and shoulder blades pulled together throughout the movement. Lift the bar from the rack position and hold it above your chest with the arms locked. Inhale and slowly lower the bar towards right beneath your chest, keeping your elbows in tight to your torso as you do so. Exhale and push the bar back up towards the starting position.

3. Preacher curls / Lying cable skull crushers

3 sets of 15-20 repetitions

Rest 60 seconds between sets.

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Set the seat so that you can comfortably rest your triceps and elbows on the pad while holding onto the machine handles using an underhand grip. Keep your elbows in rather tightly, rather than angling off to the sides. Exhale and contract your biceps, pulling the handles up towards your shoulders while keeping your triceps on the pad. Squeeze your biceps tightly at the top of the movement, and slowly return the handles towards your starting position.

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Lie on a flat bench with a straight or curved bar cable attachment in place at the lowest setting on the cable tower, right behind your head on the bench. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip and hold it in place right behind your head with your elbows pointing upwards. Extend upwards until the arms are fully extended. Pause briefly at the top of the movement and then slowly return to your start position. The elbows should stay in the same place throughout the performance of this exercise.

Image credit: bodybuilding, Pexels, Breaking Muscle

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