“21’s” | Advanced Training Techniques | JWILLTRAIN

For those needing something new to add to the rolodex of next-level training techniques, “21’s” are just for you.

“A lot of guys have better genes, but if you work hard and consistently, you can outperform them”

– Frank Zane

Besides being a three-time Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane was known for his symmetry, and meticulous focus on proportion.

If you are serious about building solid, lean muscle then by all means, scroll on.


Repetitions are important during training for a variety of reasons. Again, muscle growth and strength are what we’re lugging, curling, and squatting all that iron for, after all.

And yes, this training method will give you a ridiculous pump.

Reading: SMART Training

What are 21’s?

It simply means performing 21 repetitions of an exercise per set. It is for targeting a specific muscle group, and not just the triceps. (Although, think Tricep Rope Extensions doing 21’s, and that horeshoe. Booyah).

Like many bodybuilding and weightlifting techniques, it’s exact origins are vague, however Arnold does speak of training this way in his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding – so we know it dates back to at least the late 1970’s.

Performing sets of high rep/low weight involves energy, focus, and afterwards, sufficient rest. More on rests days later.

Typically, 2 sets of 21 repetitions should suffice for a specific exercise, in an 8 week routine. Not all exercises are done this way. Although, I’m sure someone has tried it. Work up to three sets of 21’s.

Read: Machines | No, they are not taking over


Often, 21’s are used as finisher sets, however, the more accustomed you get to using them, mid-workout is good too.

Hammer Curls

2 sets

21 reps


Seated Leg Curls

It’s called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and it’s real. Feel the burn.

2 sets

21 reps

You will – about 2 days later. Enter the rest day.

Read: Winner, winner, chicken dinner

R & R

Rest and relaxation. Typically, 48 hours between working specific muscle groups is recommended. However, when utilzing this training method, extra rest is recommended.

  • Deep within the muscles are fibers – and lots of them. Type I and Type II to be exact. Muscle growth comes from stimulating these fibers, then letting them repair, and thus, grow.

Any muscle group can be worked this way. So, for a little (a lot, actually) muscle shock-and-awe, add 21’s to your next workout routine. Just do it.

Coming up: The Zottom Curl: An Advanced Workout Technique


Email: jwilliamstrains@gmail.com

at home workout ideas

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