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MizFit training: biceps, triceps, & shoulders.

Wed, Sep 14, 2011

Exercise, Weight training

Now I’m curious: do you have a specific arms workout? would you share? I want your arms.

First?  Totally not my plan when I blogged about the sleep question on Monday.

Next? Thank you.

To my parents’ chagrin Im renown for saying what amazing intellectual genetics they gave me but the structural/physical? Not so much.

When I taught swimming lessons for kids I clearly recall a number of them who, at age 4, already had lil emerging muscles (!).  You could just tell that they’d be buff boys & girls merely by virtue of their genetic gifts.

I was never that girl.

For me any muscle I have (arms included) is a result of three things and, if I let one piece of the tripod fall by the wayside (especially as I age. 90 shopping days left People!), then the whole things kindasorta crumbles.

As a result my answer to the question is twofold: the general & the specific.

Overall my biceps, triceps & shoulders are a result of the THREE C’s:

(I know how tempting it is to skip over old linked posts. That said, I really do believe if youre curious at all about my training the two Ive linked above are KEY.)

Ive exercised consistently for the past 17 years.

A little cardio a day.

A little weights a few times a week.

A lot of meditation.

A smattering of stretching.

(lottsa bumbum rolling)


Ive eaten clean/intuitively for the past 17 years (which, if you follow me on Twitter, you know includes some intuitive forays to places like Fudruckers & Marble Slab Creamery).

I aim to do cardio 6 days a week (which for me means I end up doing about 5).

I prefer to do less (30 min) more frequently (intervals) rather than longer stints.

When I started lifting weights I quickly learned that, for my body-type, I could possess all the muscle in the proverbial world—but if I carried around a lot of excess bodyfat you couldnt tell.

Do you have a specific arms workout?

I lift arms once a week and, due to time constraints, I tend to break my routine down into little parts.

I want to be finished lifting in 20 minutes (I dont talk. I preplan my workout) so I typically lift biceps one day & triceps/shoulders  another.


The most important piece of my routine is mixing up the way I lift. Each workout includes one free weight (love these), one cable (this one isnt me. Dont rest at the bottom of the movement as this guy does!)& one machine.

For me it is less important what the specific exercises are right now (Im not getting ready to compete) and more important that I keep my muscles confused.


The same principle applies here. I typically do one free weight exercise, one cable or resistance band, and one machine.


I am a little different on this one and it’s mainly by virtue of how little time I have. I only lift side deltoids. I hit my front deltoids when I lift chest & my rear when I train my back.

**whew. I know, People. That was a longass post & it’s the edited version**

In an arm-shaped nutshell that’s me.

And Ive merely scratched the proverbial surface of all questions which flooded my in-box after Monday’s sleep post.

Now you.

Curious about my opinion on sets & reps?

Want more specifics about my workout?

Have a routine you want to share (pleaseplease!!)?

Beg to differ with my entire arm shebang?

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50 Responses to “MizFit training: biceps, triceps, & shoulders.”

  1. Mollie says:

    It is that darn consistency, isn’t it!!!

  2. Ian says:

    That’s a really fast workout.
    Do you think it is long enough?

  3. Nina says:

    Thank you for this!
    I superset a lot for my arms.

  4. Bodynsoil says:

    I do cardio at least six days a week as well (means 5 days) but mix up my cardio from 45 min to days with 15 or 20 min HIITs. My eating tends to be very clean, like you, but every now and then my husband will bring home things, like yesterday it was a cute mini cupcake for me to try, sans frosting of course. Now for my arms/shoulders/biceps routine.. I have a few that I do and rotate them around depending on how heavy I want to lift and how much time I have but tend to do 2 set of 5 exercises per part.

  5. Helen says:

    Do you think resistance bands can really do anything?

  6. Lila says:

    I’ve found my arms respond less to weights and more to yoga!!

  7. Runner Girl says:

    What does this mean?

    Ive eaten clean/intuitively for the past 17 years


  8. Kim says:

    I’ve been doing a Kettlebell Boot Camp twice a week (hour long class that includes stretching, foam rollering, kettlebells, cardio, etc.) for almost 3 months. I’m starting to see some definition in my arms for the first time in my life. I find myself walking around feeling my new muscles. People must think I’m crazy. :)

    But, I know that I have to continue to lose the fat in my arms for the definition to really show. I’m still working on that.

  9. Healthy Mama says:

    Crossfit rocks my arms!

  10. anne h says:

    I wish I could do it!
    My doing it and your doing it are two different things!

  11. Adrianne C says:

    I have the same body thing going on. If my body fat goes up a little bit, the muscle disappears. It’s hard to keep it consistently low enough. I’m thinking about trying crossfit since everyone recommends that. I’ve got the triceps and shoulders, but my biceps are sad. ;-)

  12. Andie says:

    I am old school with weight training as you are.

    My routine takes long, yet resembles this.

    Thanks Miz.

  13. Andie says:

    Love the picture. Girl power!

  14. Veggie says:

    For about a month or two I’ll do the same routine every week, but I’ll switch around the actual details of the workout. For example, this week:

    4x circuit:
    Tricep Pushdown 6-8 *here I would change widegrip vs. close grip
    Dips 6-8 *here I would vary machine vs. bench
    decline triangle pushdown 10-15

    3x circuit:
    Hammer curls 12-15
    Rope Curls 12-15 *sometimes it’s a band, or TRX instead
    Alternating curls 15-20 *sometimes not alternating, or just sitting down instead of standing

    3x circuit:
    overhead press 12-15 *barbell, dumb bell, machine, bands
    lateral raise 10-12 *same as above
    Front raise 12-15

    4x Circuit Rope Pull/Face Pull 15-20 (usually never changes)

    So I’ll do it all in this order, and then I’ll reverse it next week and start with the rope pull/face pull first, then the shoulder, biceps, triceps (which will change the reps for sure - so I am aiming for 6-8 reps on shoulders *heavy* and then lighter weights, higher reps on the arms), then the next week I’ll reverse the order of exercises within each group. I.e. Decline triangle pushups THEN dips THEN push down.

    The week after that I’ll move biceps to the first thing targeted, shoulders to the middle, etc. You get the drift! And all this while I am changing how I target each exercise. As I noted above, the first week I may do my overhead press with dumbbells, the next week with a band, a machine, kettlebells, my cat (ok maybe not her), smith machine, whatever.

    I like this because its a no brainer! I just write down this one plan for a month (or more if I am lazy, which I’m not usually) and then play around - yay play!

  15. Jody - Fit at 53 says:

    OK, so I commented wrong on FB. Should have read here first! ;-)

    I AGREE - consistency and CLEAN EATING! Ya can’t see the muscles if there is body fat over them… it is just a fact…

    My bod is different than yours so I so more than you BUT I still get results. Less is not always more for me for some reason.

    Like you, I don’t do front delts to often as I get a lot with chest but I may throw in a few reps here & there on shoulder day delending…

    I also sometimes do rear with back - just depends… I used to do it that way all the time.

    Like you - CHANGE IT UP! I am a change it up queen! :-)

  16. Okay, so I’ve just realized that I need to add more cardio back into my workouts. I used to do 5 or 6 days per week, short but pretty intense, but for many reasons, I cut way back. But it’s what I need.

    And yes, your 3 Cs obviously work! :)

  17. I’m lazy. I workout with my mom and a trainer twice a week and then don’t do more on my own. I’ve never had much definition and am still working my way back to the amount of weight I lifted before I broke my arm over a year ago. (That was then months of shoulder rehab.) Sigh.

  18. charlotte says:

    I’ll admit to being in the fan club for your arms! (And your abs) (And your Tornado) (And… oh what’s not to love?!) Anyhow, thanks for the reminder that it’s what we do in the long run that really makes the difference. Off to the gym now and yes there will be arm work!

  19. Lucie says:

    Uh oh. I always blame genetics for my lack of muscle tone :)

  20. Erin says:

    Awesome thank you! Holy crap look at the awesome nugget you have there! :D

  21. Kerri O says:

    Specifics and opinions, yes please! On more than just arms workouts too.

  22. Quix says:

    Thanks for sharing! I was always curious what/how much you did. You know my love affair with cardio, but I’m trying to take a stand and keep weights in my life regularly. I wasn’t sure if 30 mins x 2 days was enough, but I’m thinking that if it’s what I can commit to, it’s gotta be. :) I figured you’d lift a lot more (you certainly look like you do :D ).

    The new eating plan really has been helping, although its slowslowslow going, someday maybe I’ll be able to really show off those arm and ab muscles I know are under there (and not just by smoking people in races that look way fitter than me :D ).

  23. You’d think after 4 years of working out, I’d have more visible muscle def in my arms, but I don’t. And yet, I survive. :)

    I’m with you on the in-and-done-and-out workouts. I try to finish up in 30 minutes with my strength training, and then I’m out the door. I’m not a slacker; just efficient. :)

  24. Gena says:

    Hey there! Good post! Please when all could see a follow up!

  25. debby says:

    I like those 21′s. Thanks for sharing that.

  26. Penny says:

    I would love more posts like this with training tips.

    I am new to weight lifting.

  27. Harry says:

    I don’t know if many men read your posts, but I wouldn’t mind your arms :)

    I am going to share this with my wife, too.

  28. lee / fitville says:

    Naturally, the part that caught my attention was “intuitive forays.” hehe

  29. Wanda says:

    I didn’t know you had videos Mizzy!

  30. Geosomin says:

    Thanks. This will help me on my quest for Linda Hamilton Terminator 2 arms :)

  31. Valerie says:

    I’m actually very excited about this longa$$ post because arms are something I very much want to work, but can never decide how to do so. I do love to have things laid out neatly for me. :-)

    I also have to be quick about it so a shorter workout is helpful for me. I do mostly machines, though - is that going to work or do I really, really need to venture over to the scary free weight/cable side of the gym where everybody looks really serious and knowledgeable? I will if you make me…but I’d rather not… :-)

  32. Nat says:

    Thank you!!!

    21s it is.

  33. Mary (A Merry Life) says:

    I’m working on that consistency part. YOu are my consistent inspiration.

  34. Dayna says:

    Ok. A piece of me wants to tell you your twenty minute workout isn’t enough, but I quit my long workouts a few weeks in.

    You may have a point.

  35. Dayna says:

    Cute pic.

  36. Deb says:

    I found when my body fat got below about 24% my arms suddenly POPPED out. So I know that the eating is a key. MUST, MUST, MUST lose the body fat to see any muscles.

    With my recent restrictions, I’ve found I can train my arms (bis and tris) and back by (remarkably) doing bench press. Squeeze the lats, and bring the bar to bra band (not the center of the chest) and it’s magical!

    Nothing will really matter until I get some heart-pumping work in regularly. But yesterday BBcomplex was close to a cardio/strength combo.

  37. Yum Yucky says:

    I was quite certain I would see “eat cake at least 3X week” in your tricep/bicep instructions. No wonder I’m still waiting for my musticular enbulgement to appear.

  38. paula says:

    thanks for this post. I envy your muscles. Truthfully, we have a full on weights at the gym at work and I’ve been so intimidated by the machines. But you’re inspiring so I’ll give it another whirl.


  39. Jeannie says:

    Well, I do get shapely fairly easily in my upper body if I am consistent with my weight training and I so need it it balance out my curvaceous lower body! Unlike you, I do a bit more cardio because I am an endurance athlete and love to push the endurance barrier. But I do fit in strength usually at least 3 times a week because I want to keep a more muscular balance in my body and well as matter of fact, muscle burns fat! That said, I an more a heavy weight low rep person unlike many endurance athletes. I need it to keep my muscles more balanced to combat injuries and provide the strength base for endurance. I also prefer free weights and bands to machines because these provide more functional strength engaging all muscles of the body and not muscle isolation. I definitely believe in muscle confusion too or it becomes a stalemate.

  40. addy says:

    I have the attention span of a gnat. Can’t do a complicated set with this many reps and that many weight changes. I would spend all my time trying to figure out what I am supoosed to be doing next. Cardio 5 to 6 days. Weights each day different muscle group. Shoulders always alone once a week with minimal weights. I am still trying to master the hula-hoop too. I’m old….

  41. Bring Pretty Back says:

    What ever it is you do - I WILL DO! I want to lose this weight and feel happy and pretty.
    Thank you for your ideas- suggestions- and motivation!
    Oh - I have NO workout - that is the problem!

  42. julia says:

    I’ve been lifting weights for 15 years. I think the best “arm shapers” are BIG lifts like Barbell Rows, Chin-ups, Pull-ups, Push-ups, shoulder presses and more multi-joint movements. I rarely do bicep curls… (maybe once a week).

    wish i could show a picture in the comments! ;)

  43. Shelley B says:

    I haven’t done weights in months, but my arms are really getting defined (although nothing like yours!) and toned from swimming - but then again, I swim for well over an hour 5 days a week, so that is a lot. Mebbers if I did weights I wouldn’t have to workout so long. But, I like swimming. Oh, and the yoga is a sneaky arm workout for me!

  44. Wanda says:

    I’ve been doing more outdoor sports for the summer (climbing and golf mainly) and have been surprised at how much muscle I’ve added.

  45. Lettie says:

    How much of a part do you think eating has in your muscle developement?

  46. cheryl says:

    Swim- a lot.
    and lots of planks (held halfway) in yoga.
    My arms are better now at 58 than when I was lifting two times a week (heavy).

  47. cheryl says:

    Swim- a lot.
    and lots of planks (held halfway) in yoga.
    My arms are better now at 58 than when I was lifting two times a week (heavy).

    oh yeah…and chins

  48. Jeanette K. says:

    My biggest downfall is cardio. That’s what I skip the most and regret it! I consistently do weights and a once-a-week yoga session (wish I could amp that up more, too). It’s all about consistency though. No doubt! Thanks for sharing, MizFit!

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