21s Workout is Not Just for Biceps


We all know of bicep 21s – we even tackled it back in the post about Spider Curls. But don’t you know that the 21s exercise can also be applied to any muscle group?

21s is when you do 7 partial reps on the lower half of the move’s range of motion, another 7 on the upper half, and then another 7 full range reps; you can also replace one of the 7 second segments with partial isometric holds (meaning, you just flex the muscle and hold the tension with the weight). Take note that you can interchange the order in which you do the segments every set – if you want to do the bottom stretch position partials last, and then by all means do so, as long as you complete your 21s.

sample 21s for biceps, image source here

21s for biceps

7 + 7 + 7 = 21 thus 21s!

21s workout is a recipe for an out of this world time-under-tension. Imagine how many seconds your target muscle group endures with 21s? Even if you do the reps quickly, which means 1 second up, one second down, you would still toast your muscles with at least 40seconds time under tension!

I still remember the first time I did 21s. I was just innocently doing a set of barbell curls when the instructor of Jay’s gym back then (this was a decade ago) named Harold approached me and made me do “Viente Uno” (means 21) in place of my last set of barbell curls using the same weight and the same bar that I was using. And man, that felt like WOW my bis were palpitating and were swollen like crazy and I’ve never seen it that way before.

Okay, so we know that we can do 21s for other body parts. Below are some perfect exercises for each muscle group where you can apply 21s. Basically, machines are obviously perfect for 21s since they offer continuous tension through the whole range of motion so I will not anymore include those obvious moves below.

And remember you only chose 21s exercise as the high intensity move for the muscle group. Once you do 21s for a day, there is no reason to apply another intensity move for the same body part. (Like dropsets, inflitonics, etc). You only do 21s for one set for each body part,

  1. Neck – Shugs 21s
  2. Shoulders – Dumbbell Arnold press/ Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  3. Chest – Any type of Dumbbell Bench Press (incline, flat, decline, etc)/ Also perfect for flyes
  4. Back – Chins/Lat Pulldowns (any grip)/ T-bar rows/One arm Bent over Dumbbell Rows
  5. Biceps – Spider curls/ Any type of curls that use dumbbells
  6. Triceps – Smith Machine Close Grip Bench Press
  7. Quads – Squats/ Leg Presses
  8. Hamstrings – Leg curls
  9. Calves – Calf Raises or any calf exercise are great for 21s

Eventually you will find other exercises wherein you will feel comfortable doing 21s besides the ones we mentioned above. By all means try them and feel free to experiment as long as you do so with care and precaution.

Note: you need to learn the basic parts of every lift (namely the stretched position, the midpoint, and the fully contracted position) learn that from this post. You need to fully understand that to be able to use 21s effectively.

Does anyone here use 21s? How does it feel? How did your first 21s feel? Eat your eggs, people!

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5 thoughts on “21s Workout is Not Just for Biceps

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