May Workouts – Arms

New month – new workout plan.  For May, I am using escalating weight/decreasing rep sets to simultaneously work on endurance and strength building.  I’m also adding in a bunch of HIIT cardio to prepare for some upcoming races – hill intervals, stairs, and sprints, with a few tempo runs and long cycle sessions mixed in with my lifts.

For arms, the new program is short and sweet:

  • 3 x 5-10-20 Biceps:

(1) 5 reps of wide barbell curls @50lbs (so 10 lbs less than I use for 5×5 sets).  Use a neutral grip, slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  Bring the barbell up toward your collarbone, and release all the way down to your hips for each rep.


(2) With no rest, immediately begin 10 reps of v-curls @ 20lbs/arm.  Start with the weights at your hips, with your palms facing out.  Curl your arms out and up toward your shoulders.



(3) With no rest, immediately do 20 reps of hammer curls (@ 15 lbs/arm).  Start with the weight in front of your hips, with your palms facing inward.  Curl up to your shoulders and repeat.



Repeat all three moves for 3 full rounds, with about 1 min rest in between rounds.

  • 3 X 5-10-20 Triceps

(1) 5 x Narrow Grip Bench Press (@80lbs):  Lie on a flat bench, with the barbell in your hands over your chest.  Hold the barbell with a very narrow grip – my hands were close to touching, near the center of the bar.  Lower to your chest, and press up, trying to keep your triceps as close together as possible.



(2) Immediately, with no rest, do 10 X Skull Crushers (@50lbs): Hold the barbell with about 5-6 inches in between your hands.  Bring the bar directly over your face, and bend your forearms back until the weight is near the crown of your head.  Press up and repeat.



Tip: Try to keep your triceps closer together than mine are here.  Next week, I am going to drop the weight down to 40lbs and try to keep my elbows about 6-7 inches apart so I can hit the triceps harder.  Going with a heavier weight, but with your elbows farther apart, is actually less work (i.e., less effective) than a lighter weight with a very narrow grip.

(3) Immediately, with no break, do 20 x tricep kickbacks.  Bend over at the waist, and start with your elbows bent and the weight near your ribs.  Press the weight back behind you, being careful not to move your elbows for the entire movement.



  • Escalating Weight Sets: The next two moves were done with escalating weight and decreasing reps for each set.  Start with a lighter weight and perform 15 reps.  Rest 30 seconds, increase the weight slightly, and do 12 reps.  Rest 30 seconds, increase the weight again, and perform 10 reps.  Rest 15 seconds, increase the weight again, and do 8 reps.  Rest 15 seconds, increase the weight one last time, and do 5 reps.

(1) Extra-Wide Bicep Curls – @ 30-40-50-55 (with dumbbells)-60 lbs – hold the barbell wider than shoulder distance apart, and curl for 15 reps at 30 lbs, 12 reps at 40 lbs,10 reps at 50 lbs, 8 reps at 55 lbs, and 5 reps at 60lbs, with minimal rest between sets.

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(2) Overhead Tricep Extensions – @ 22.5-25-27.5-30-35 lbs.  Start with the weight overhead, with your elbows next to your ears.  Lower the weight down behind your head, keeping your elbows close to your ears.  Repeat for 15 reps at 22.5 lbs, then 12 reps at 25lbs, 10 reps at 27.5 lbs, 8 reps at 30 lbs, and 5 reps at 35 lbs, with minimal rest between sets.

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  • Endurance Set – Finish with a long endurance set — breaking down each movement into smaller segments with a light weight.  I used 10 lbs.  Start with triceps extensions and perform the last half of the movement, pushing the weight back from your sides behind you for 10 reps.  Then perform the first half of the movement, pressing the weight from your ribs to your sides for 10 reps.  Then do 10 full reps of a tricep extension, before slowing the move down to a 2-count movement with a pause halfway through for another 10 reps.  Finally, finish with 10 pulses up, at the end of the movement.  Then immediately move into bicep curls – do 10 reps of the bottom half of the curl, 10 reps of the top half of the curl, 10 full curls, 10 curls with a pause in the middle of the movement, and 10 pulses in the middle of the movement.  (The video only shows two reps of each movement so you can get an idea of how small the movements are.)


Finish with this alternating set of intervals on the treadmill, which lasts 16 minutes.  Pick a starting “work” speed and “recovery” speed that is 3 mph less than your “working” speed – I used 10mph and 7 mph.  Run 1 min at your high speed, and then drop to your low speed for a minute.  Drop 0.2 mph off your top speed, and add 0.3 mph to your low speed, and repeat.  Continue to drop 0.2 mph and and add 0.3 mph until you’ve completed 8 rounds of 2 minute high-low runs.  You will be at the same speed for both minutes on the 7th round, and your “recovery speed” will be faster than your “work” speed for the last round.


One thought on “May Workouts – Arms

  1. Pingback: May’s Legday Workout | Steaks, Squats, and Sundresses

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