Weightlifting coach Eugene Teo regularly shares advice on how to build strength and muscle both safely and sustainably in specific areas and exercises on his YouTube channel. However, in his most recent video, he reflects on his friendship with the late bodybuilding legend John Meadows, who passed away a year ago, and shares some of what he learned in their last training session together, which happened to be an arm day workout.
They started with the triceps pushdown, which Meadows performed iwth his palms down, arms flared out, and elbows tucked close. "John's variation will give you a little bit more stability and allow you to lift the most weight on the pushdown," says Teo.
Meadows then supersetted the pushdown with a bodyweight variation of the skullcrusher. "While skullcrushers often feel like absolute trash for most people, these bodyweight skullcrushers feel awesome," he says, recommending performing them on an incline bench.
From there, they moved on to one of Meadows' favorite exercises, the kettlebell skullcrusher, which Teo recalls felt much better than using a straight bar, EZ bar, or even a dumbbell. "I think it may be to do with how the kettlebells are pulling you into this flexed shoulder position constantly, because they're always pulling you backwards towards your head, which means your body has to activate the shoulder extensors a little bit more throughout the entire movement, especially in that lockout position," he says. "This means that your rear delts, your lats, and even your triceps will be activated a little bit more."
For biceps, Meadows and Teo turned to an arm day staple: the barbell curl, starting out in the high rep range and then dropsetting down so that as their muscles began to fatigue, they could still continue to churn out smaller numbers of high quality reps, before finally reaching partial failure and finishing on cheat reps.
"John always liked this idea of getting in a certain amount of blood flow and a strong pump to his muscles early on in a workout, and then he'd go into a couple of hard sets where he'd really push his intensity," explains Teo. "It was all planned out in a way that was methodical to ensure we're getting as much stimulus as possible, while minimizing the extra fatigue that may be accumulating in the joints."
They closed out the workout with machine preacher curls, using another one of Meadows' go-to techniques: iso tension. "We'd push to a failure point, and then we'd hold the stretch in the mid-range position for as long as we could stand, whilst actively trying to flex up against the weight," he says. "This is something best left for the end of the workout... and typically on exercises where you're less prone to cheating or using other muscles you don't want to be contributing."
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