Iron Game

An Impressive Résumé at 21
It’s safe to say that none of today’s pros can claim to have accomplished as much as Cody Montgomery had at the age of 21. Firstly, until he came along, no one had ever won the NPC Teenage Nationals more than once. Cody racked up three of those titles, along with an overall at the Collegiate Nationals, before his 20[SUP]th[/SUP] birthday. While still 20, he made the 2015 NPC USA Championships his first foray into open competition. Most pundits and experts had assumed it would take him a couple of years and a few attempts to make the transition into the open men and earn pro status. In a stunning surprise, he won the heavyweight and overall titles— putting him in the esteemed company of other USA champs like Phil Heath, Flex Wheeler and Chris Cormier. The “smart” thing to do would have been to take all of 2016 off to grow and improve, then test the waters cautiously with a smaller pro show in 2017, where he would be virtually guaranteed a high placing if not an outright win. Instead, Cody jumped right into the 2016 Arnold Classic, where he would stand onstage with heavy hitters and veterans like Kai Greene, Cedric McMillan, Branch Warren, Justin Compton, Evan Centopani and Maxx Charles. Though he brought sharp conditioning, Cody was out-massed by most of the other men. Still, by placing 10[SUP]th[/SUP], he still managed to beat two men who have been pros since Montgomery was a small child, Johnnie Jackson and Toney Freeman. It’s interesting to note that both those men were also at least twice Cody’s age. All in all, it was a respectable pro debut and showed that this kid isn’t afraid to stand next to anyone.
The Gun Show – Prologue
There’s one thing several of the pros in that Arnold Classic like Kai, Cedric, Justin, Maxx and Evan are all known for— enormous arms. You would not want to trade front double biceps poses with any of those men unless you yourself owned a pair of bi’s and tri’s that were also outstanding. Luckily, Cody had nothing to worry about. Arms are a body part that has responded well for him from the time he got serious about training at the tender age of 14. Back then, he lived by the motto, “curls for the girls,” and did at least some arm work every day. Before too long, he got on a standard bodybuilding training split, so that all his muscle groups could get equal attention. “But if a buddy of mine was training arms and asked me if I wanted to work out with him, I didn’t say no,” Cody admits. By the time he was being coached by Hany Rambod during his Teen Nationals reign, he was hitting arms with a training day of their own, as well as doing a little bit of biceps after back, and some triceps work after chest. “One thing I’ve really learned is to respect the recovery process and avoid overtraining,” he tells us. “It’s even more critical with a body part like arms, since they are involved in everything we do for chest, back and shoulders.” Now, let’s take a look at how Cody trains those young guns.

Straight-Bar Pushdowns
As most experienced trainers do, Cody starts his triceps workout off at the cable station for pulldowns. The steady resistance of the cables allows the triceps, and more importantly the elbows, to gradually acclimate to the progressively heavier loads. Cody prefers to use a straight bar, and keeps the reps on the higher end, 12-15, to get the tri’s pumped and warm. Though he will push down with an explosive motion, he stops at the bottom of each rep to emphasize the contraction, and focuses on a slower, controlled stretch all the way back up to the start position.
Machine Dips (not shown)
Montgomery’s go-to compound movement for triceps for years was the close-grip bench press. More recently, he’s switched to seated machine dips. “I prefer bodyweight dips on chest day, because you get a better stretch and pec activation,” he says. “But the machine version is a good isolator for the triceps.” He keeps the reps around eight to 12 for four sets, with a squeeze at the bottom and a full, two-second negative on every rep. “A lot of times, when I can’t get any more full reps, I will do a couple of partials in the stretch position,” he adds.

Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
Many bodybuilders opt for skull-crushers as their heavy extension movement for the triceps, but Cody favors seated overhead extensions with a dumbbell. The two-arm version is his choice. “The single-arm version kills my elbows and I feel that over time, would wreck my shoulders,” he notes. His most important tip is to try and keep your elbows in close to your head. If they drift too far away, you are no longer doing a true extension movement for the triceps— more like a close-grip overhead shoulder press.
Overhead Rope Extensions
Montgomery likes to finish off his triceps with another cable movement. “The goal at this point is just to burn them out,” he says. Sometimes it will be with the overhead rope extension, as shown. More often, he selects the single-arm cable pushdown with a reverse, or underhand grip, which effectively targets the long head of the triceps. One way he boosts the intensity of the sets there is to do10-12 reps to failure, then flip his hand over and continue on with an overhand grip for a few more reps. “You have to focus on the squeeze here, not the weight,” he cautions. It’s a finesse movement that wouldn’t even be possible with heavy weight for all but the very strongest men.
Barbell Curls
With triceps done, Cody starts the biceps portion of his arm workout with barbell curls. He is shown here using a straight barbell, but in real life he typically uses an EZ-bar. Many trainers find that the contours of the cambered bar cause far less wrist strain over time. He takes his time and does four or five sets of 10 reps, with an instinctive rep tempo that often changes as he seeks out the perfect mind-muscle connection with his biceps. Cody might do a few reps with a constant motion, then another one of two where he comes to a full stop at the top of the rep to flex his biceps hard, and then finish off with a couple more reps at normal speed. From there, he usually goes on to a Hammer Strength curl machine for three or four sets of 12 reps.
Hammer Curls
Cody always does some type of hammer curl in his biceps training, to ensure that the brachialis muscle gets proper attention. For this photo shoot, he used a rope attachment on a low cable pulley. In his actual training, he is more partial to dumbbells. He’s come up with a rep scheme on those that gives him just the right amount of pump and burn: five reps for each arm, alternating left and right, then six reps performed with both arms at the same time. “I usually curl the dumbbells across my body, right hand toward left shoulder, left hand toward right shoulder, to avoid using my delts too much,” he points out.
Concentration Curls
There is always some type of single-arm dumbbell curl in a Cody Montgomery biceps workout. He may choose the standard, seated concentration curl, as shown here. Another frequent selection is the single-arm dumbbell preacher curl. “All I am focusing on here is the squeeze, putting my mind into the muscle and working it as hard as I can,” he says.
Cody’s Best Arm-Training Tip
The best advice comes from people who have made mistakes, and can thus prevent others from repeating those mistakes. Even though Cody is still a pup, he has already learned some lessons the hard way. “I used to go super heavy on biceps, and I got zero results,” he recalls. “You really have to forget about how much weight you are using, and focus on the feeling in the muscle, the contractions and the stretches.” In fact, if you ever see Cody training arms, you will not be impressed one bit by the weights he uses on most of the exercises. Yet it will be evident that he is feeling every rep, deep down to the last muscle fiber. He puts far more emphasis on both the contraction and the stretch on every rep than most bodybuilders do, often pausing at both points to make sure he’s maximized it. And as for the weights not always being “impressive,” I think most of us would take Cody’s arms, over being able to claim we can use X amount of weight on curls or dips. His biceps are jagged peaks, and his triceps are sweeping and full. Personally, I wouldn’t care if I had to use 10-pound dumbbells to get arms like that— would you?
The Year Ahead
He may be just 22 years old, but Cody Montgomery has already wrapped up his rookie season as an IFBB pro, and shared the stage with some of the very best in the sport, including two men who have both won multiple Arnold Classic titles and have been runner-up at the Mr. Olympia. Does Cody have that same level of ultimate potential? Considering the improvements he has steadily made each contest season since he was just a high school kid, I’d say we have barely scratched the surface of how good he can eventually be. In the meantime, take some tips on arm training from this sensational young gun, and build your own high-caliber weapons!

Cody’s Typical Arm Workout
Straight-Bar Cable Pushdowns 4 x 12-15
Machine Dip 4 x 8-12
Overhead Dumbbell Extensions 3 x 10-12
One-Arm Underhand Cable Pushdowns 3-4 x 10-12

EZ-Bar Curls 4-5 x 10
Hammer Strength Machine Curls 3-4 x 12
One-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls 3-4 x 12
Dumbbell Hammer Curl* 3-4 x 11
*Cody likes to alternate arms for five reps, and then perform six more reps using both arms at once.
Cody’s Superset Arm Workout
Rope Pushdowns 3 x 12-15
superset with
Barbell Curls 3 x 10-12
Machine Curls 3 x 12
superset with
Close-Grip Bench Press 3 x 8-10
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension 3 x 8-10
superset with
One-Arm Underhand Cable Pushdowns 3 x 12
Hammer Dumbbell Curls 3 x 10-12
superset with
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 3 x 10-12

Training Split
Monday: Legs
Tuesday: Chest and calves
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Back
Friday: Delts and some legs
Saturday: Arms and calves
Sunday: OFF

Contest History
2010 NPC Dallas Europa Teenage Winner
2011 NPC Ronnie Coleman Classic Teenage Winner
2012 NPC Teenage Nationals Light Heavyweight and Overall
2013 NPC Teenage Nationals Light Heavyweight and Overall
2014 NPC Teenage Nationals Heavyweight and Overall
2014 NPC Collegiate Nationals Heavyweight and Overall
2015 NPC USA Championships Heavyweight and Overall
2016 IFBB Arnold Classic 10[SUP]th[/SUP] Place
2016 IFBB Arnold Classic Australia Seventh Place