Let’s talk about feeder workouts…
If you’ve heard of them and found this by searching about Rich Piana’s feeder workout, you can skip ahead and read my opinion and the truth about them.
If you haven’t heard of them it’s an interesting concept that gets asked about ALL THE TIME on Youtube and Instagram and other social media.
When I was on an extended trip to Thailand and found myself without a gym, I filled up my backpack with my MacBook, shoes, and a few water bottles and did daily feeder workouts.
Even though the weight was stupidly light my arms absolutely grew bigger and got more defined.
What Are Feeder Workouts?
The idea behind a feeder workout is that you are going to pump your muscle like crazy with high repetitions.
This will then force blood, oxygen, and other nutrients into the muscle thus ‘feeding’ the muscle. Reps can vary between 20-50 depending on the exercise too. High reps build muscles just as low reps do, as long as you’re in the hypertrophy rep range, and train specifically for hypertrophy (building muscle size).
When performing a feeder workout you use very lightweight, very minimal rest, and focus entirely on the pump.
How to get the best possible pump
To get the best possible pump, you need to feed your body correctly before. Check out my article on salt in your pre-workout and how you can get killer pumps just by adding one thing to your pre-workout.
Another thing you want to do before a feeder workout is eat a crap ton of carbohydrates (okay, not a crap ton). Carbohydrates turn into glycogen, an energy source. Glycogen is stored in skeletal muscles, and is converted to glucose during intense exercise.
Carbs are going to be your primary energy source during feeder workouts, I’d recommend between 50-125g of carbs pre-workout,
What’s the point of a feeder workout?
Good question! The point is to grow your muscle.
“BUT DON’T I NEED SUPER HEAVY WEIGHT TO GROW MY MUSCLES?”
Not entirely true! Like always there are many different philosophies and we’ll dive into the reasoning behind this and why it actually works.
At first, it sounds like a complete load of BS, but stick with me because there is an interesting side to it.
If you want a complete breakdown watch the video of Rich Piana explaining his feeder workout arm routine.
Why Feeder Workouts Make Sense
I know, I know, it all sounds like a BS workout routine you’d learn in a muscle magazine.
I will say – like EVERYTHING ELSE in bodybuilding this may not work for you. The only way you will ever be able to find out is to do your own study and measure your results. Add it to your training program and test your own body.
I can tell you that this worked extremely well for me, countless others on social media, and obviously Rich Piana who has ridiculously giant guns.
In order to break down why these work so well, let’s take a look at Rich’s proposed arm workout.
Rich’s Piana’s Feeder Workout For Big Arms:
Using 15lb dumbbells with no rest 3 times in a row followed by posing in the mirror.
Skull crushers – 100 reps
Hammer curls – 60 reps
Let me ask you… when was the last time you did 100 reps of an exercise?
Nowadays most dudes throw down an easy 8-10 reps, rest way too long, perform just a few sets, and that’s it.
The pump you will get after performing 100 reps is unbelievable.
You can literally feel your muscle swelling and grow when you do these high rep workouts.
Now 100 reps may be too high for most of you (unless you’re an IFBB pro) so let’s cut it in half. What would a Rich Piana Feeder arm workout look like?
Arm Feeder Workout
50 reps Rope Pushdown
50 reps Ez Bar Bicep Curl
50 Dumbbell Across Chest Hammer Curl
AMRAP Bench Dips
When I was completely stuck on ego-lifting and smashing as much weight as I could, I hardly felt my muscles being used. Want to try a chest feeder workout? Read The Best Damn Feeder Workouts For Chest. Your chest will explode.
I distinctly remember throwing up the 100lb dumbbells on shoulder press, killing myself, and probably using every muscle in my body except my shoulders to lift the damn things. My shoulders hurt for days on end, my recovery just SUCKED. I didn’t feel my shoulders being used, I just wanted to lift some heavy-ass weight.
Compared to nowadays training with a moderate weight and aiming for a very good mind-muscle connection, squeeze, and ultimately a pump.
Training For The Pump…
If you have ever listened to any interviews with bodybuilders and fitness models, a lot of them don’t follow any set in stone program.
They train intuitively by listening to their bodies and getting a great pump.
The focus of the feeder workout is to give you a pump like you’ve never had before. We’re talking practically bursting due to the amount of blood you’ve forced into them.
Working the target muscle in isolation or biasing is the best way to grow specific muscles.
Ever tried an arm blaster? It’s like that, but all the time.
When you do this, your muscles are being fed essential nutrients required to grow – which in the end is our goal, right?
Can You Even Build Muscle Using High Reps?
The problem with bodybuilding is that every one of us is different.
What works for Arnold might not work for you. What works for your gym partner might not work for you.
When BS studies and “facts” get spread around, people forget that they might be different.
For example, you must be familiar with the “fact” that in order to build muscle you have to stick within the rep range of 8-10 reps. Maybe do about 3 sets per exercise.
The reality is many phenomenal bodies were built using a COMPLETE opposite method.
Just take one look at Serge Nubret, pictured to the left.
Serge’s workout routines were absolutely insane with rep ranges and set ranges generally around 6-8 sets of 12 reps per exercise.
These workouts were performed with a moderate (not egotistically heavy) weight and focused on good squeezes getting an insane pump.
By all of our magical (bullshit) science we have nowadays, you would be determined that Serge’s workout routine cannot possibly work and would be a complete waste of time.
Pretty much exactly what most people think of when they hear of Rich Piana’s feeder workouts.
The two workouts are based on the same philosophy.
You can grow your muscles without ridiculous heavy weights, simply by making sure they are getting used properly and you are obtaining proper pumps.
Smaller muscles groups can be hit with LOTS of volume, that’s one of the training principles behind shoulder exercises for example. If you want to Grow Your Rear Delts, you need to hit them over and over again.
But Easton – I Need To Lift Heavy Weight To Get Big! The Internet Said So!
There is a correlation between strength and size. The problem is, it doesn’t work exactly how you think it does.
Here’s a fun experiment…
Look around your gym and find the biggest, jacked aesthetic guys there. They can most definitely lift heavy weight. Some might be, others might be doing a more pump-focused routine. It depends.
Now look around for average size guys (probably benching!). Some kids can bench stupid amounts of weight, but for some weird reason are NOT gaining the size they want.
You have to work towards your goal to get the body you want!
Me personally, I used to do my dumbbell presses with the 110lb dumbbells. My chest practically didn’t exist. (That and when I didn’t eat enough protein…)
Ever since switching to a high rep workout my chest has completely changed. I actually feel my chest working during a workout, whereas ego bench pressing did absolutely nothing for it. I would do a set of 5 reps (heavy af) but after it’s like I didn’t even do one push up. No pump at all, and I was losing confidence in myself.
Check out my other article on Best Damn Chest Feeder workouts. Your future chest will thank you 🙂
In a comment on Bodybuilding.com Serge Nubret himself made a great analogy.
Look at dudes who work manual labour things such as construction jobs. Their shoulders are usually massive and defined from all of the use. Hell, have you seen their forearms? For dudes that work with their body and hands all day, their forearms take a lot of abuse. Every day, day in day out, high rep repetitive work. Arnold started his own business, a brick-laying company. Could you imagine laying bricks all day? Repetitive bicep work all day, without having to hit a gym!
Are YOU one of the dudes that have the problem of growing your forearms? Read my other article, Guide to Getting Big Forearms (trust me, it works!).
Look at dudes who lift massive heavy weight – AKA powerlifters. They are complete tanks and I respect that, but in the real world aesthetically speaking they look like awful. Sometimes at the gym, the guy that can lift the most is also the smallest. Strength is a central nervous adaptation, not muscle.
That being said, a big muscle is a strong muscle!
Do What Works Best For You
At the end of the day, it comes down to your body but feeder workouts and high rep work might be just what you need to reach your next level and grow your muscle. I’m a personal trainer by day, what I do with one client is completely different than another. Different bodies require different exercise approaches.
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. Worst case scenario you get to walk around with insanely pumped arms for a few hours a day 😉