Military Muscle: Stronger arms in 4 drills


Farmers Walk

Here are some exercises that you may not have seen in the gym that will give your arms a complete workout.

They all go a bit beyond the standard biceps, triceps and forearm exercises. There are hundreds of fitness references that show not only these but other exercises you may want to consider. Pick a weight where you struggle on reps 9 and 10.


OFF milmuscle Triple Stop 11-15-2013

Triple-stop EZ bar curl (biceps)

Both triple-stop exercises in this workout will increase strength at a specific angle plus about 10 degrees in either direction.

Stand tall and keep your elbows locked in to your sides.

Do the normal-range-of-motion curl starting with arms fully extended down and ending with the bar at chest level.

On the way down, stop the bar with elbows about 45 degrees and hold for 10 seconds.

Next, stop the bar where your elbows are at 90 degrees and hold for 10 seconds. This is the max strength point of the curl motion.

Stop again when forearms are 45 degrees from your body in the down position.

When at full extension, wait for a 10-count before starting the next curl.


Lying Dumbbell

Triple-stop lying dumbbell extension (triceps) 

Lie on your back on a bench and execute a dumbbell triceps extension using the full range of motion from hands around the ear level to arms fully extended above your head.

On the way down, stop about halfway, prior to your elbows reaching 90 degrees, and hold for a 10-count.

Next stop is elbows at 90 degrees and hold for a 10-count.

Final stop is just above ear level and hold for a 10-count.

Repeat the triceps extension.



Standing Zottman dumbbell curl (biceps and forearms) 

I like to add a twist at the start that engages the brachioradialis (one of the forearm muscles). You will have to lighten your weight somewhat due to the final stage of this curl. Try this exercise with both dumbbells at the same time or alternating.

Start with arms fully extended down, dumbbells resting about mid or upper thigh. Palms should be facing in — not up — so that you start the curl as a hammer curl.

As the dumbbells move past your waist, rotate them to palms up and complete the rest of the curl as a normal biceps curl. Keep the elbows locked into your side.

At the top of the curl, rotate your wrists outward so that palms face forward, then slowly lower the weights back down to the start position. Repeat the movement.


Farmers walk (forearms) 

(Above) This is still one of the standards on the strongman circuit. Some gyms may have a special apparatus for this. If not, you can use heavy dumbbells (60 pounds and up for the guys and 35 pounds for women) or weight plates (I go with 45-pound plates for guys and 35/25 for the gals). Do a couple of reps on this but at different places in the workout.

Grasp the apparatus or weights and let them hang naturally at arm’s length.

Walk forward for a measured distance — 60 seconds is the walk time that I like. If you can’t make the 60 seconds, go lighter; and if you could have walked longer than 60, go heavier.

More online: This is the third of a three part arm series from Bob Thomas. Get part 1 here and part 2 here.

Do you want to be in an upcoming issue? Here’s how.


Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas has been our Military Muscle columnist since 2007. He’s the director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. He’s his base’s lead trainer, a wounded warrior program facilitator and the Navy nutrition counselor there. His special emphasis is on fitness for the military retired population. Find his Military Muscle columns here.

Sara Davidson

Sara Davidson is an ultrarunner and contributor to PT365. She's run 7 marathons and 32 ultramarathons -- including her first 100-miler. This fall she is training for the Marine Corps Marathon using our PT365 Run Plan. Reach her at sdavidson@gannett.com .