Roll Out the Big Guns

Guns, pipes, anacondas, whatever you call them, if you’re a guy, you want them... and the bigger the better. How you get them is another story. Endless curls, tricep extensions, and forearm exercises are fine, but super-sizing your shotguns doesn’t have to cost you the ability to scratch your head. Some of the best arms in athletics are found on male gymnasts who are powerful, flexible, and wouldn’t be caught dead doing preacher curls.

Movements that involve your whole body will not only boost your biceps, they will strengthen your core, enhance coordination, and improve athletic performance. Some research even suggests that by speeding up your reps more type II muscle fibers are developed; leading to larger gains in strength and mass than the standard “2 up 4 down” tempo.

Are you ready to start "selling tickets to the gun show"? Then give this gymnast inspired workout a shot!

Protocol: 1-2 days a week (preferably separated from any heavy upper body work by at least 24-48 hours).

1-2 Sets of push-ups, pull-ups, and squats x 10-12 repetitions each.

3-5 sets of 8-10 “fast and controlled” repetitions for each exercise with 1 minute of rest between sets.

Staggered Push-ups:

Start from a standard push-up position except with one hand slightly in front of the other. At the top of each rep, quickly switch your hands reversing the position.

In and Out Push-ups:

Start from a narrow “close grip” push-up position. At the top of the first rep, jump your hands out to a “wide grip” position. Continue alternating between close and wide for the rest of the set.

Explosive Push-ups:

Perform as you would a standard push-up, except with an explosive push at the top. Try and get as much “air” as possible.

Towel Grip Pull-ups:

Loop a towel over one side of a pull-up bar and grip both ends with your hand. Grip the bar with your other hand and perform 1/2 of the set. Then, switch the towel to the other hand and complete the set.


Perform like a pull-up except with your palms facing towards your body.

Explosive Pull-ups:

Perform like a regular pull-up, but with an explosive pull. Try and bring your lower chest to the bar.

Straight-bar Power Shrug:

Hold a straight bar in front of your thighs with your palms facing towards your body. Drop into a 1/4 squat then rapidly extend your hips, knees, and ankles while shrugging your shoulders. Return to a standing position before starting the next rep.

Straight-bar Power Upright Row:

Perform like the straight-bar power shrug, but lift the bar (keeping your elbows higher than your hands) to your chest.

Straight-bar Push-press:

Holding the bar at your shoulders, drop into a 1/4 squat and then forcefully push with your legs while fully extending your arms overhead. Return to the starting position before performing the next rep.

Too much or not enough?

If you cannot do a pull up, use an assisting machine (i.e. “Gravitron”), heavy bands wrapped around the bar (loop them under your knees), or have a partner assist. If the workout is too easy, you can use a weight vest or a dumbbell held between the feet to add resistance. Weight can be added to the straight-bar exercises once proper technique is achieved.


“Explosive Lifting for Muscle Growth”, Robbie Durand M.S., C.S.C.S.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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