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The Best Arm Exercises You've
Never Heard Of

By Nick Nilsson - 2 Reviews

1. Review by Charles Staley
Creator of the Escalating Density Training System
World-Renowned Strength and Performance Coach

"The Best Arm Exercises" is a very interesting book...68 unique exercises for the bicep, triceps and forearms ONLY. And I have to say, the level of creativity and effectiveness these exercises have to offer is really going to be a BIG eye-opener for a lot of people.

I mean, what's the first thing you think of when you think of "arm training" - if you're like a lot of trainers, you immediately think barbell curls and pushdowns. Or dumbell curls and dips, etc.

You don't think "Bodyweight Preacher Curls" or "Spiderman Rack Push-Ups"...though if you DO, then I'm not sure what planet you're from. Maybe the same one Nick is from...

So Why Arms?...

That's the first question I asked Nick when he first sent this book along for a review. After all, given that I'm primarily a strength and performance coach, direct arm training is not generally a big priority for me or my clients. I wanted to know what his reasoning was for putting out a book like this.

Is this just for fun or just fluff training?

And his reasoning was actually very similar to my own when I was putting together my "Ultimate Guide to Massive Arms" book...

1. Direct Arm Training = Assistance Work for the "Big" Movements

Let's say your bench press has been stuck for a long time because you can't seem to get the bar fully locked out at the top when you move on to using heavy weight. That top range of motion is a LOT of tricep action. By directly working the triceps with effective "assistance" exercises, you can immediately see results that carry over to your primary movements.

Obviously, any pressing movement is going to have a substantial tricep component. What about biceps? Bicep strength plays a big role in rowing and pulling exercises.

Here's the thing...your body is only as strong as it's weakest link. If you're doing a bench press and your triceps are relatively weak, it's going to LIMIT the uppermost amount of weight you can push. By directly strengthening your weak links, you can improve your total strength in many of the big lifts.

Same for an exercise like chin-ups. Your back may be strong, but if your bicep (or even forearm!) strength limits your training, you'll never maximize your performance in that exercise.

A targeted application of direct arm training can really make a big difference in your lifting.

And, of course, you need to use EFFECTIVE exercises for this purpose, otherwise you're wasting your time.

As it relates to this specific point, "The Best Arm Exercises" has some EXTREMELY targeted stuff that certainly fits the bill as big exercise "assistance" exercises. As a strength coach, you've got to look at everything that can give your athletes an edge. Ruling out direct arm work just doesn't fit that paradigm.

2. Training Variety

Obviously, a book full of 68 new exercises is going to give you a LOT of variety to choose from. Your body thrives on some degree of variety (though you still DO need to maintain a level of consistency to achieve a training effect).

Nick actually acknowledges this as well - in his own training, he tells me that it's about 75% "normal" stuff...squats, deadlifts, bench press, that kind of thing. The other 25% is a rotation of the unique exercises you see presented in his books and on our site here.

You HAVE to keep some consistency in order to see results - shotgunning all over the place won't get you where you want to go. When I asked Nick about this specific point, he said...

"Here's the approach you have to take with this type of resource - take your time with it and pick out a few exercises you want to try. Use them the next time you train arms and see how they work for you. Generally speaking, if an exercise is going to work for you, you'll feel it pretty quickly. Stick with the ones you get the biggest effect from then gradually work in OTHER exercises on a rotational basis like a continuous audition process at a soap opera.

As good as these exercises are, I'm quite sure there will be ones that don't work equally as well for everybody. You have to experiment and find out what works best for YOU. Then work it HARD!"

3. Deloading

Let's say you're a powerlifter and you've been training the "Big 3" lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) almost exclusively for months. Now it's time to back off and "deload" (basically reduce your training volume to facilitate recovery in the muscular and nervous system).

This is a GREAT time to work in specialty exercises like the ones Nick puts forward in his book (it also goes back to the assistance work I was talking about earlier).


4. Compound Exercises Included

One of the very nice things Nick has done with this book is included plenty of compound exercises...not hard to find for the triceps in normal exercises (think of dips, close grip bench press, etc.) but tougher to find for biceps.

Several of the exercises are variations of pull-ups or rows that make adjustments in setup and/or execution in order to change the focus from back to biceps. They're VERY simple to execute and WOW do they really have potential.

The real standout exercise in that department is the Nilsson Curl, which can be best described as a chin-up with your forearms braced against a bar set about a foot lower than the one you're gripping on.

As Nick explains it, this bracing keeps you from being able to pull your body straight up, which normally engages the lats. By blocking your forearms like this, it forces you to pull yourself up and around in an arc with the elbow as the pivot. This is almost ALL biceps (80 to 90%) with assistance being provided by the lats instead of the other way around.

You can actually SEE this exercise in action as one of the sample exercises on Nick's site for the book. Very cool exercise and it's a great twist on a classic exercise to really change the focus to biceps and work it as a compound exercise.

5. FUN

Yep, arm training IS fun. It's the stuff you do when you've earned it with the hard deadlifts, squats, pulls and presses. It helps keep your mind fresh and your motivation high!

And honestly, that's what training SHOULD be. If you have an "exerciser" mentality where you go to the gym and do your "penance" for eating a few French fries then you're not having fun.

Things That Could Be Improved About the Book...

The title of this book pretty much describes what this book is all about...unique exercises. One thing that would be a nice addition would be some targeted sample workouts for working those exercises into a program.

I asked Nick about this and he told me that it's a secret (not a very good one now, I guess) but he's got several unannounced bonus gifts for people when they pick up the book that will address this. He wanted to keep it as a surprise but if it's something that's holding you back from grabbing the book, don't let it because it's not going to be an issue.

The last of the 3 bonuses is actually something that NOBODY has ever seen before. Really interesting stuff there.

The only other thing that jumps out at me is that there aren't really many forearm exercises in the book at the moment (5 for the forearms compared to 33 for the biceps and 30 for the triceps). Nick told me he's going to be addressing this in updates to the book as he definitely knows the forearm stuff needs to be beefed up.

When you get the book, you'll also get free updates for life, so that'll be moot point, too. Not like the other 63 exercises won't keep you fairly busy for awhile anyway!



Now, if you've seen the exercises that Nick posts in our weekly PR Zone newsletter, you'll know exactly what this book is all about...very cool, very effective exercises that will totally make you look like a crazy person at the gym. In a good way, of course :)

These exercises are very well thought out and have a lot of potential both for improving your arms AND for helping improve your "big" exercises through assistance training.

Plus, the exercises are just plain fun!




Rating Scale Very poor/avoidable
  O.K. read
  Excellent /must have


2. Review by Rahul Alvares

Every time Nick Nilsson comes out with a new ‘Best Exercises’ I can’t help but think well how many actually new and useful exercises has he come out with in this book. I mean bodybuilding has been around for decades and surely between all the Mr. Universe winners, fitness experts, sport coaches, and just plain ol’ aspiring bodybuilders grinding away in dank basement gyms, all the exercises would have been discovered by now. But if you read Nilsson’s BAE you’re in for a rude shock just like me!

The most annnoying part for me is that considering I’m obsessed with bodybuilding and creating the perfect program for myself Nilsson’s books can be a real pain. Literally! Because just when I’ve gotten my routine all sorted and perfected Nilsson will come out with a better program and a whole new set of exercises that throws my customized program almost completely out of gear! Its kind of like buying a new cell phone and then seeing an ad for a better and cheaper one a few days later…Grrr.

Ever since Nilsson came out with his first book he’s been maturing like an old wine; he’s getting better and better at creating new exercises as the years go by! BAE is a real treat with 33 bicep exercises, 30 tricep exercises and 5 forearm exercises.

But while I can imagine crazy Nick being able to perform all of the exercises (actually I would go so far as to call a few just plain daredevil stunts!) I myself don’t find all of the exercises workable. A few I am unable to try for want of equipment (my gym still doesn’t have a swiss ball or a power rack).

A few don’t give me a good feel or a good pump and those are out for me as well. I suppose learning new exercises isn’t unlike learning dance moves: until you get a feel for both you tend to feel really awkward and uncomfortable!

A nice thing about BAE though is that Nilsson has incorporated a lot of tips, tricks, and variations for each exercise. So even if you aren’t all that happy with a particular exercise at the start there’s still a pretty good chance you’ll take to it in the end.

Some exercises WILL get you a lot of stares in the gym! This can work both ways: if you have a lousy physique to start with then you’re gonna have to put up with a lot of sympathetic looks and dissmissive head shakes as though the freaky exercises you’re trying out are the very reason why you continue to remain slightly shaped like a toad. On the other hand, if you’ve got a great physique you can expect to have quite a fan following even though your imitators might not have a clue as to what part of the body is worked by the strange exercise they are performing!

All in all BAE is a great book and a must have for everyone, from the fitness enthusiast to the serious and hardcore professional bodybuilder.

Click here to learn more about "The Best Arm Exercises You've Never Heard Of"



Rating Scale Very poor/avoidable
  O.K. read
  Excellent /must have


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