Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. I know, that sounds cliched but it’s true. If you are anything like the 20 year old version of me, you probably believe that every workout has to be a record breaker and doing “more” each time you step foot in the gym is what will yield the greatest results. While the enthusiasm is inspiring, this idealism lacks experience and is somewhat detached from reality. Not only is more not always better, but it is inevitable that we will sometimes find ourselves is a situation where doing more is not practical. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why dedicating 15 minutes to your arm training could be extremely beneficial.
Why 15 Minutes?Why would you train your arms in 15 minutes instead of 45, 60, or even 90 minutes? For one, there’s the possibility that you don’t have that much time. Shit happens. Things come up. Where you might normally dedicate an entire training day to your arms, maybe you find yourself having to give up a day because of work, family, travel, or other obligations. Although I’m not saying you shouldn’t train arms, it’s foolish to sacrifice chest, back or legs in their favor. For another, they already receive indirect but significant stimulation from chest and back training, assuming you’re hitting them with adequate intensity. Same goes for shoulders. Most of us can find the time to dedicate 15 minutes to arms at the end of a chest, back, or shoulder workout. Further, we’re talking arms; I’m not asking you to do squats for 15 minutes straight. Even if you’re spent from your workout, unless you’re training with legendary Tom Platz-like intensity, you should still be able to do some arms.
What Results Can I Expect?What you can accomplish in 15 minutes depends largely on you. Maybe some of you out there who have been beating the hell out of your arms week in and week out for years on end might even see some new progress. Hell, I’ve seen people’s arms grow from not training them directly at all. There’s a possibility that yours will improve too. At the very least, I am confident that you won’t lose muscle. And in some situations, the smart play will be to do something rather than nothing in the name of not going backwards, even if that’s not your style. I know—10 years ago I would sooner have missed a workout altogether than not do my full workout. That was the wrong way of thinking. Something is always better than nothing. Just don’t make “something” your new standard. That leads us to the next question.
I’m not saying you should do this every week from here on. If arm training has become stale and progress has stopped, throw it in for a week or two straight then go back to more traditional training. See if switching it up changes anything. If there seems to be a positive result, do it more often. Try three weeks in a row. If you find yourself unable to do your full arm workout and are thinking you may have to skip arm day altogether, throw this in at the end of chest or back or after shoulders. Don’t miss arm training altogether just because you can’t do it the way you normally would.
How Do You Train Arms In 15 Minutes?All you need are two movements: one for biceps and one for triceps. Compound movements can work as long as you connect with them really well. I tend to favor isolation movements because, in this scenario, the impact that the movements will have on my whole body is much less than it would have if I were doing compound free-weight movements. This means there is a lesser chance that I will slow down from overall fatigue doing isolation movements than I would doing compound movements.
When 15 minutes is all we’ve got, we want to maximize time under tension and not take any rest time in between sets. Begin with the first biceps movement using a weight that’s a struggle to get 25 reps with and immediately follow with the triceps movement in the same rep range. As soon as the triceps set is complete, go back to biceps and begin again. Go back and forth over and over again using the same weight, getting as many reps as possible each time. Don’t hesitate to incorporate some rest pauses for the sake of getting every last rep possible. If you have a training partner handy, force reps for each other. In short, the goal for those 15 minutes is to go ALL OUT. The pump is going to be crazy, fatigue will set in, reps will drop…and that is perfectly normal. Just keep going and continue to get as many reps as you can on each set.
A reduction in time spent training can sometimes yield unexpected results. Results can be especially surprising when you consider that the weight you would use for your 15 minute workout is also lighter. At the very least, giving an all out effort for this short time can allow you to preserve what you have. While I’ve been hard headed in the past, the reality is that even a brief, intense workout is better than none. In the past I would have said the best offense is a good offense. And true as that may be, you will realize that sometimes you need to pick your battles. If your progress is stale, you have nothing to lose. If you’re at risk of missing your arm training altogether, you have nothing to lose. Give it all you’ve got for those 15 minutes and you might just learn something new.