Get Huge: 21s and Run The Rack


Whether you’re looking to add muscle or strength, or you simply want to look a little more pumped up before hitting the beach this summer, two effective ways to achieve any of those goals is to use 21s and to run the rack.

Don’t worry if those terms sound foreign, we’re going to explain their meanings. But before we do, we think you should know that both methods are advanced and can be extremely taxing. To make sure you have what it takes to make it through start to finish, try P4’s powerful pre-workout supplement Pre Game Formula. It’s NSF Certified for Sport and features creatine and beta-alanine that help to support muscle growth and energy output.

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With 21s, you’re using a partial range of motion (ROM) that splits an exercise into thirds. From there you’re performing seven reps at each stage for a total of 21 reps. The increased rep count delivers a fantastic pump — when your muscles both look and feel full — but also exhausts the muscle from all angles and improves muscleendurance. 21s are commonly done with biceps curls, but you can do them with many moves, such as the shoulder press, triceps extensions, and bench press, just to name a few, by splitting the full ROM of each movement into thirds. That said, since curls are popular with this method, our example will demonstrate how to do 21s with biceps curls …

How To Do Biceps Curl 21s

Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and grasp a bar or cable with an underhand grip. Keep your elbows tucked to your side and perform seven reps of the lower ROM: Lift the bar until your forearms are parallel to the floor.

Next, do seven reps of the upper ROM: Starting with your forearms parallel to the floor, curl the bar to your chest and then lower it back to a 90 degree-angle.

Finally, perform seven full-ROM reps: From the top of the curl (the bar at your chest), slowly lower the bar until your arms are fully extended, then lift back to the start.

Related: How To Perfect Triceps Overhead Extensions

When you run the rack — often called “up the rack” or “down the rack” — you can either begin with heavy weight and use low reps or start with light weight and go with high volume; it’s your choice.

As an example, we’ll use a 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 rep scheme. You’d choose a weight you can successfully lift for 15 strict reps (it shouldn’t be easy; your last one or two should be difficult). Without rest between sets, grab a heavier weight and perform 12 strict reps. Continue in this manner until you’ve completed the entire rep ladder. Your form should remain perfect throughout. If you are unable to maintain proper form, use lighter weight or rest as needed.