It happens all the time. Mark Wahlberg has transformed himself onscreen into a boxer or a police officer or father and the first thing you can think is, “Wow, Mark Wahlberg has amazing arms.” And you’re right. He absolutely does. But pay attention to the movie before you start thinking about how you can build incredible upper body strength and sculpt your arms and shoulders like Wahlberg has.
You absolutely can, though. It might seem completely unattainable, but arms like Mark’s are achievable through hard work, complete dedication and staying smart about your workouts. Here’s what you’ve got to do to get the guns.
Integrate These Moves Into Your Workout
You don’t get arms like Mark Wahlberg without seriously upping your arm workout game. A handful of simple pushups is better than nothing, but strong, defined arms aren’t made by having a “good enough” attitude. You’ve got to really put in the effort to work your upper body right. Here are a few Mark-approved moves, according to Men’s Fitness, to get you started.
Seated Dumbbell Curl
Seated dumbbell curls are simple, classic, timeless. The movement is going to work your brachialis, deltoids, extensors and flexors all in unison. According to Livestrong, this killer combo can contribute not just to defined upper arms, but strong and chiseled forearms as well.
Start by sitting on an incline bench or a seat with a backrest, gripping a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your upper arm steady against your sides, curl your weights and rotate your wrists outward so your palms face toward you at the top of the movement. Hold for a second, squeeze your biceps and lower slowly back to your starting position. Shoot for three sets of 10, eight and six reps respectively, resting for 90 seconds in between.
You must do pull ups. Yes, they suck. Yes, they’re hard. But when it comes to building strength and toning everything from the waist up, there’s nothing better. Mark Wahlberg does them. Draymond Green does them. You’ve got to do them. Luckily, there are modifications for just about every level of upper body strength, so no matter where you are in your quest for Wahlberg arms, you can find a pull up that works for you. No excuses.
For your basic pull up, start by hanging from a pull up bar with your hands a little farther than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you, well, pull up. Don’t stop until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself down (slowly for more of a challenge) and feel yourself getting stronger. Do three sets of 10, eight and six respectively, resting for 90 seconds in between.
Seated Preacher Curl
How many curls can you possibly need to get arms like Mark Wahlberg? As many as you can handle. The seated preacher curl is a variation on your traditional curl, but the preacher bench is going to target your brachialis even more, giving you more opportunity to grow your upper body.
The basic movement is the same, but this time, you’re completing the motion on a preacher bench, set so that your armpits touch the top of the pad, with an EZ-bar. Grasp the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, curl it up and keep the backs of your arms against the pad. Feel the burn for three sets of 10, eight and six reps respectively, resting for 90 seconds in between.
Change Up Your Routine Often
Now that you’ve mastered those three moves, forget them. Well, don’t forget them, but ditch them for a little while and switch up your routine. According to Men’s Fitness, Mark doesn’t get too comfortable with his workout routine for too long. He changes up his exercises and switches up his routine.
The reason for this is adaptation. Repeating the same motions over and over week after week is going to cause your body to adapt and your muscles to respond less to this repetitive exertion. According to BodyBuilding.com sticking with the same old workout without any changes is going to land you on a performance plateau that’s tough to move off of. You won’t see the results you want and your workout is going to feel tedious.
Don’t let this happen to you. It’s completely avoidable. Men’s Fitness suggests sticking with your routine if you’re newer to a set of exercises. “The body undergoes an anatomical adaptation phase where the muscles, nerves and hormones have to get accustomed to the new phenomena of learning movement patterns, getting the brain to recruit the right muscle fibers and neuromuscular coordination,” a trainer for Men’s Fitness said. “This phase typically takes upwards of six weeks, and true benefits can extend beyond this initial stage.”
After this beginner phase, Men’s Fitness suggests switching things up every six to eight weeks or when you notice a major strength plateau or lack of physical results. Start with subtle changes. Switch up sizes of programs, like swapping a high volume approach for one that incorporates extended sets. Or use programs that focus on different types of conditioning. It’s not going to take much to push your body in new directions. Some simple modifications in exercises, repetitions or rests can get you off of your plateau and into some Mark-like guns.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Rest
Mark’s routine is tough. Those exercises above are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. He goes hard, but he knows the importance of allowing your muscles to rest and rebuild. “It is rest that makes you stronger,” BodyBuilding.com proselytizes, “because it is the rest that allows the muscle that you have broken down to heal and recover. It is the rest that allows you to recover so you can be strong, and thereby handle the increased weight and increased number of sets and reps to gain further.”
It doesn’t get much clearer that than. You have to take a break or your muscles won’t heal and grow. If you pound your muscles constantly in the quest for killer arms, you’re not going to get them.
It might not seem like it, because let’s face it, Mark Wahlberg’s arms are ridiculously strong, but you can have an amazing Wahlberg-esque upper body too. You’re going to need to work hard and incorporate the right moves into your routine. You have to switch it up so your body doesn’t adapt to the motions and pay close attention to your plateaus so you know when it’s time to move on from an exercise. And just as important as knowing when to challenge yourself and push a little harder is knowing when to back off and give your body a break. Keep all this in mind and your biceps could be busting out of your t-shirt sleeves just like Mark’s.