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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #146 Build bigger, stronger arms.
September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

In this newsletter . . .

You can build bigger, stronger arms

Your fitness story

You can build bigger, stronger arms

Ask any senior, especially any male, if he would like to add some muscle to his arms and you can bet he’ll say yes. Not so many senior ladies may wish to add bulk, but many will say they’d like to firm them up.

I was 66 with seven years of steady training behind me the last time I gave the following arm workout a dedicated run. The result was that I added some muscle and had a lot fun doing it. Younger seniors, especially, can reasonably expect greater gains than mine, if they follow it as described. It is not for beginners, however. Beginners should first build a strength and fitness base (see: Beginning Weight Training).

The workout is called EDT, which stands for Escalating Density Training. I wish I could claim ownership, but it is not my creation. The great trainer/coach Charles Staley figured out this one.

I’m paraphrasing now, but Staley explains EDT this way: Select a body part, let's say arms, and work them exclusively for 15 minutes. There’s nothing new in that, of course, but here's the rest of it:

  • You superset two opposing muscle group exercises.
  • For example, select a weight you can curl for 10 good, clean reps. Do the same for triceps extensions.
  • Use a stopwatch. For 15 minutes, superset the two exercises, doing 5 reps (not 10) in each set. If you reach a point where 5 reps are not possible, do 4 or 3.
  • Rest when you have to, but do as many sets as you can in 15 minutes.

When you have finished, record your total reps for the 15-minute period.

Now, here is the challenge: At each subsequent workout, keep doing sets of 5 reps with the same weight, but try to achieve a higher total during the 15-minute period. How do you do that? Your rest periods must get shorter. When you have gotten so you can do 20% more than your beginning workout total, increase the weight by 5% and start over.

Anyone wanting to try EDT in its purest form should read Charles Staley's material. My adaptation is a little different, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Either way, EDT is tough stuff, so the remainder of your workout should be designed for maintenance only. Use the 15-minute EDT period to really zero-in on one body part, in this case arms. In Staley's original, you rest 5 minutes after the first EDT session, and then do another 15 minutes, working the same body part but with a different exercise selection.

My Adaptation

One 15-minute period is enough for me, and I imagine it is enough for most people over 50, especially those well over 50. Yes, you want to really zero-in, but not overdo it.

In my version, I did preacher curls alternated in superset fashion with seated triceps extensions. The pump was great and I experienced some rep/weight capacity improvement. Did my arms grow another half-inch as a result? No. That kind of increase would not be likely for someone my age, and with a good number of years of steady training already behind him. Still, I had fun and was pleased with my modest gains. As I said, younger seniors with more growth potential on the same schedule should realize significant increases in strength and size.

The rest of my upper-body workout was for maintenance. I worked this way once per week, and at my second resistance training during the same week, I did a maintenance only workout for my arms and the rest of my upper body. I did leg workouts on different days. I continued the program for six weeks.

Once again, I do not recommend EDT for beginners. Beginners should first develop a solid fitness base with a beginner’s program, such as the Gray Iron Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women. But after that, experimenting with different training methods and programs makes all the sense in the world, and that’s when the fun really accelerates.

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Your fitness story

Everyone has a fitness story, at least everyone who reads the Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter. Why not share yours with our readers on the Senior Exercise Central web site?

Here are few subjects and ideas that I know other readers like knowing about . . .

  • Do you have a home gym? Describe it and show a picture.
  • What motivated you to start working out.
  • Your favorite routine.
  • Special dietary practices.
  • Obstacles you've overcome.

Here is how it works.

The Kettlebell Boomer How to Defy Aging and Be a Human Dynamo Throughout Your Senior Years—Thanks to Kettlebells With Master RKC, Andrea Du Cane

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

Your comments and questions are always appreciated. Simply click on the "Reply" bottom.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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