When celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, and Josh Brolin want to get shredded for superhero movie roles, they turn to Don Saladino. A celebrity trainer for over 20 years, Saladino has a reputation for training the biggest names in Hollywood to get them big physiques for the big screen.
His secret to a stacked upper body? Building a pair of enviable bis and tris. Here’s Saladino’s go-to arm workout to keep his arms pumped.
How It Works
This quick, four-movement arm workout is simple and effective. The goal is to target the biceps and triceps while using a full range of implements (dumbbells and a cable machine). The workout is basic enough to perform in any gym, even your home gym.
Saladino recommends hitting 3-4 sets of each exercise below, for 8-12 reps, as hard as you can. However, he notes that intensity level should depend on your fatigue and current training input. Listen to your body, and train smart. You can always start lower in weight, or drop a set if needed—then hit it harder the next time around.
Why It Works
Saladino’s workout narrows in on four key movements, variations you’ve likely seen before. What makes this routine unique is Saladino’s focus on stabilizing the rest of the upper body (less momentum at the shoulders) for more attention on the biceps and triceps. He also coaches slow and controlled reps, an essential factor in developing strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Ready to get jacked? Saladino’s quick upper body workout is below. Before getting started, make sure you have the essentials – a cable machine and heavy dumbbells – at the ready.
One Arm Cable Curl
If you’re looking to build your biceps, the single-arm bicep curl should be a part of your regimen. To perform Saladino’s variation, stand at a distance from your cable rack, and concentrate the majority of your weight on the leg closest to the rack.
While stabilizing the working arm at shoulder level, perform bicep curls, focusing on creating tension in your bicep. Complete each rep with control, traveling through a full range of motion, being careful not to lock out your elbows at extension.
Once you’ve hit one side, Saladino challenges you to perform the same resistance and reps to the other side.
One Arm Overhead Cable Extension
This tricep heavy hitter involves standing facing away from your cable machine, holding the cable behind your head while keeping your core engaged (or as Saladino alternatively cues as “ribs down”), and elbows close to your ear. From here, extend overhead, generating as much tension in the tricep as possible, and then lower.
Saladino warns “the first few reps of this exercise always feels a bit light, but it always catches up.” Start light; you can always add weight later. Again, be sure to hit both sides.
Note: if you have trouble with shoulder mobility, this might not be the exercise for you. Tricep pushdowns or tricep kickbacks are alternatives that involve less mobility at the shoulder joint.
This curl variation is an effective way to strengthen your biceps while giving your forearms extra attention. To complete the Zottman curl, start with a classic bicep curl, bringing your palms up to shoulder height. From here, rotate your palms until they’re facing away from you, and then slowly lower the dumbbells.
Zottman curls are an effective way to increase bicep time under tension (an important factor for muscle hypertrophy or growth) and build grip strength simultaneously. For maximum impact, avoid using your shoulders or momentum to move the dumbbells.
Cable Overhead Tricep Extension
To effectively complete this exercise, begin with the proper stance. Facing away from the cable rack, grab the cables overhead, and lunge forward, stepping away from the rack. Angle your torso at about a 45-degree angle to the ground, keeping your core tight, chest up, and shoulder blades pinched behind you. Keep your elbows close to your ears as you extend your arms out, then bring your arms back to get a full stretch.
For more workout inspiration and tips from Saladino, check out his Instagram. Need some dumbbells or a cable machine for your home gym? Try these below.