21s Bicep Curls Workout – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Arm Finisher

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Name a famous bodybuilder. Don’t think about it, just close your eyes and spit out the first person that comes to mind. Was it Arnold Schwarzenegger? I thought so. Even today, the Austrian Oak is by far the most well-known physique athlete to ever grace the competition stage, and if you were to ask 10 current bodybuilders to identify the muscle for which Arnie was most famous, odds are they’d all say “biceps.”

Schwarzenegger often claimed to have an upper arm circumference of 22 to 24 inches after a good pump. Even if the true measurement was closer to 20 inches as some believe, it’s still damned impressive, and one of his secrets for achieving such sleeve-busting pythons was a training technique called “21s.”

Most often applied to biceps curls, 21s combine full and partial reps in the same long (you guessed it) 21-rep set, which is typically split into three parts and performed without pausing to rest:

  1. The first 7 reps focus on the bottom of the movement, stopping when the elbow is bent 90 degrees.
  2. The second 7 reps focus on the top of the movement with the upper arms never dropping below parallel to the floor.
  3. The third 7 reps move through the full range of motion.
      1. The primary benefit of performing 21s is that they maximize your muscles’ time under tension—a key growth stimulus. What’s more, by allowing you to concentrate on each phase of a movement individually, 21s can help you bust through a training plateau by helping you work through an exercise’s sticking point.

        Your move: Perform 21s up to twice a week to inject some variety into your routine and trigger fresh gains. Start with two to three sets per exercise using 40 to 50 percent of your 1RM in order to complete all 21 reps with perfect form. To hit other parts of your biceps, you can try variations where you change up the angle, the position, and more.

        Also, don’t limit yourself to biceps curls. This time-honored lifting technique can provide similar benefits when applied to other exercises such as the bench press and squat, including increased strength, greater hypertrophy, and the kind of jaw-dropping definition that has people still talking about The Governator’s guns 40 years after his last competition.

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