WIll Harris Guns Workout: How I Got My Guns Blazin’
By Will Harris as told to Larry Pepe
I’m not going to lie to you. My arms have never been a weak point. Early in my career, they grew pretty easily by doing the basics, just like everyone else does. But, I noticed two things that led to the routine I’m about to share with you. First, about five years ago, it became apparent that while my arms were huge, they lacked the kind of detail and separation that I needed to turn pro. Then, in the last year or so, my triceps pulled ahead of my bis for the first time in all my years of training.
I’ve always said that the smarter bodybuilders take notice of these types of things and make the necessary adjustments to their game plan to get better. So here’s what I did. To address the detail issue, I got away from using heavier weight and lower rep ranges and trained more for volume with more sets and a lot more reps. Sets of 6-8 gave way to sets of 15-20. An interesting thing happened. My arms got more detailed AND they kept growing, the best of both worlds. As for my “exploding triceps”, I decided to flip the script. While the common wisdom has been to do a little more tricep work than bicep work because your tris make up 2/3 of your upper arm, I dropped a movement out of triceps and added one to biceps. The result? I’m back in balance and better than ever. Let’s get to this workout and see what it can do to help tighten your shirtsleeves.
Will Harris’s Guns Workout
I really can’t understand for the life of me why I don’t see a lot more guys doing 21’s. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to feel like somewhat lit their biceps on fire, but you won’t find a better way to smoke the lower, middle and upper portions of the bicep. Grab a straight or E-Z curl bar and do seven bottom half reps from the fully extended position to the midway point of a curl. Next, do seven full reps followed by seven top-half reps from the midpoint to the fully contracted top position. Keep in mind that you are doing 21 reps and that you’re not going to be using a lot of weight, but don’t let that fool you. This is one of the bicep blasters you can do. I opt for 4 sets to get the ball rolling.
Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls
Next, I like to do alternate dumbbell curls. Once in a while, I’ll do these standing, but I usually do them sitting at the end of a flat bench. I begin the movement with my arms in a full hanging position and curl the dumbbell up to my shoulder and twist my hand outward at the top of the movement to supinate and further contract the bicep. I then lower the weight in a controlled manner and make sure to keep the palms up. This way, my bicep stays contracted throughout the entire range of motion of the movement. Once I do a full repetition with one arm, I start the rep with the other arm. I’ll do four sets of 15 reps on here before moving on to the next exercise.
Machine Preacher Curls
I always include some form of machine preacher curls because it is the only movement in my arsenal where I take advantage of my arms being braced against a pad as well as the unique angle of the machine. That changes the stress of the movement. I will use a very controlled pace on the reps, but just a bit quicker than I do with other curling movements. Because I don’t have to worry about swinging or getting momentum as much on here, I feel free to up the pace of the reps a bit and change the stimulus of the movement a little. Another little trick I use is that I don’t quite let the arm extend all the way down so I can keep the stress on the bicep and off the elbow. I’ll do 4 sets of 20 reps on here.
Hammer Curl with Rope
Now that I have my direct bicep work done, I turn my attention to the brachialis muscle. The brachialis is most significantly stimulated with curling movements that are performed with the palms facing each other. While I’ve done plenty of hammer curls with dumbbells in the past, my favorite movement is the hammer rope curl. I’ll attach the rope to the low cable pulley and grab each side right under the handles so that his palms face each other. Then I curl the handles up to my shoulders before lowering the rope back to the starting position. Make sure to keep a slight bend in the knees and not use any body momentum. Again, lots of volume is the way for me, so I’ll do another 4 sets of 15-20 reps.
Straight Bar Pushdowns
Using a straight bar handle on the overhead cable pulley, I pin my elbows against my sides throughout every inch of the movement. If you allow your elbows to flare out from your body you often throw the stress of the exercise off the tricep and into the shoulder area. I also make sure to hold the repetition for a second in the bottom position, forcibly contracting the tricep. Then I bring the bar back up to the lower pec area before beginning the next rep. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they let the bar come up too high at the end of the rep and that throws the stress of the exercise into the delts and lets your triceps relax on every rep. No good. I’ll do 4 sets of 20 reps before moving on to lying extensions.
EZ Bar Skull Crushers
First things first. Be careful on this movement. Because the bar is being lowered right to your forehead, you have to make sure to have total control over the weight or you could really hurt yourself. So let’s get to the exact form I use and I’ve never hurt myself doing it this way.
Take a close grip on the EZ curl bar and start the movement with the bar directly over your forehead. Slowly lower the bar to the top of your forehead and stop the bar one inch before touching your head. Make sure to keep your elbows in, just as with the pushdowns we discussed, and extend the bar back to the starting position. Again, slow controlled reps are the key here. I’ll do3 sets of 15 reps before moving to my last movement.
Reverse Dips off Bench
Last but not least is a movement I’ve been doing since I started bodybuilding, reverse dips off a bench. I start by placing my hands on the bench about 8-10 inches apart. I’ll put my feet on the floor far enough in front of me to allow me to lower my butt as far as I can to get a full stretch at the bottom of every rep. Then I power myself back up using only my triceps. How do I know I’m only using my tris? You guessed it. I make sure to keep my elbows pinned to my sides, just like you will. Another trick I use is to pause at the top of every rep and squeeze the tricep for a hard contraction for about two seconds. Four sets of 20 reps on here and I’m ready to call it a day.
Like I said when we started this workout, my approach to arm training has evolved according to what my development told me I needed. Need more detail? Add more volume. Need more bicep or tricep? Prioritize that muscle be training it first and giving it more work. Train smart, train hard and be consistent and you’ll have great arms before you know it.