This Golden-Era Bodybuilding Technique Can Help You Build Your Back and Arms

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New data, research and findings are being published daily in the field of exercise and nutrition. But, even if you’re armed with everything there is to know, there’s no denying that old-school bodybuilders had a trick or two up their (impressively tight) sleeves when it came to building a sculpted physique.

One such hack was the 8×8 technique, popularised by legendary coach Vince Gironda. Brutally effective at adding slabs of hard muscle, this workout takes the principle and applies it to the often-neglected areas that you can’t see in the mirror: the ‘pulling’ muscles of your back. By default, it’ll also smoke your biceps.

The original protocol stressed keeping rest time to an absolute minimum for maximum effect. To simplify this, you’re going to be using an EMOM (every minute on the minute) protocol, performing the prescribed reps at the top of each minute then resting for the remainder. Complete all eight minutes of a movement before moving on to the next.

Make a note of your reps, once you can complete all 8 sets of 8, use heavier weights in your next session.

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8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing your body. Lift your feet off the floor and hang freely with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows, pinching your shoulders together. When your chin passes the bar, pause (B) before lowering to the starting position. Try not to swing too much; stabilize yourself by keeping tension through your core.

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

Set an adjustable bench to around 45 degrees, or prop a flat bench up with a box. Position yourself face down with your chest on the pad, holding a pair of dumbbells (A). Staying tight to the bench, row both dumbbells up towards your hips, pause (B) and slowly lower before repeating.

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Hang Power Cleans

8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

Pick your dumbbells up, holding them at your sides. Hinge at the hips to lower them to your knees (A). Stand back up with a slight jump, using the momentum to pull the dumbbells on to your shoulders (B). Stand up straight, then lower under control to your sides and repeat.

Incline Dumbbell Curls

8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

Finish off by frying those biceps. Lay on a bench at a 45-degree incline, hold two dumbbells with arms hanging freely at your sides (A). With minimal momentum, curl both dumbbells, turning your palms inwards, until your pinky fingers are near your shoulders (B). Squeeze here and lower under control.

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