Huge Arms in a Hurry: A 30-Minute Arm Workout

This workout from STACK Expert Mason Woodruff will build your arms in 30 minutes.

In most sports, arm size doesn't matter all that much with regard to performance, and your training as an athlete should reflect that. Performing well on the playing field, minimizing injuries and developing skills should all be higher on your priority list.

That being said, developing massive arms can be an awesome subsidiary benefit of training. As long as your performance is up to par, there's no reason to avoid an occasional extra arm workout to add more training volume. Let's take a look at a 30-minute arm workout that you can knock out on an off day or after a skills training session.

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A Few Things to Know First

There are three main factors in stimulating muscle growth: mechanical tension (the intensity or weight you lift); muscle damage (breaking down muscle fibers so they can be rebuilt stronger for next time); and metabolic stress (buildup of metabolic waste due to anaerobic training—"the pump"). In the workout below, we focus on metabolic stress, since the rest of your strength training program probably takes care of mechanical tension and muscle damage.

Since we focus on metabolic stress, rest periods are rather important. Short rest periods cause greater metabolic build-up—and in turn, promote hypertrophy in the targeted muscles. Most rest periods in this workout are 30 seconds, with 60 seconds being the absolute max. Remember, this workout takes only 30 minutes for a reason.

In addition to shorter rest periods, we use two training methods to induce greater metabolic stress:

  • Drop Sets: Performing multiple sets of an exercise back-to-back without rest, taking the set to failure. For example, a drop set of Bicep Curls could consist of 10 reps with a weight that takes your muscles to failure, then immediately reducing the weight to complete 10 additional reps—with no rest between.
  • Supersets: Performing multiple exercises back-to-back without rest. An example of a superset would be 10 Pull-Ups immediately followed by 20 Push-Ups. A 30- to 60-second rest period after completing both exercises is optimal for this style of training.

Finally, just because the workout is short and intense, don't forget about tempo. Controlling the eccentric (lowering the weight) portion of a lift actually causes more muscle damage than the concentric portion. For most lifts, a 1- or 2-second count on the eccentric portion should suffice.

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The Workout

1. Superset

  • Push-Ups – @ 75% (using 75% of your Push-Up max—e.g., 75% of 20 Push-Ups max would be 15 reps.)
  • Underhand Cable Row – 10 reps
  • 3 Supersets with 30-45 seconds rest between them.

2. Superset

3. Drop Set

4. Drop Set

5. Single Exercise

That's it! Remember that arm training is only one piece of the puzzle. Big compound movements like Rows and Pull-Ups, lower-body work, and Presses are just as—if not more—important than isolation training for arm growth. Plus, they will have more carryover to your sports performance. As long as you are taking care of that, there's no reason why you can't throw in fun training days like this one.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock