Get Your Basics! Plus Arms!

Everyone who exercises for the first time or returns after a few months of no exercise should begin slowly and demonstrate patience. Learn important information that you can apply to your training and your life.


In the beginning to exercise there are some definite procedures and understandings.

Everyone who exercises for the first time or returns after a few months of no exercise should begin slowly and demonstrate patience. The tendons and ligaments which are the attachments from the bone to the muscle (joints) needs to be stretched, pulled and rejuvenated; before a direct attempt to develop the actual muscle. Your joints are very sensitive and need to be treated with care. This is done by 2 to 3 weeks of only pull exercises.

Whether you pull on machines or free weights, stretching the area is done before and after each set of exercise. Light, manageable weight 10-12-15 repetitions and only 3 sets for each different body movement. This prepares the joints and strengthens the attachments and also avoids the pain commonly associated with beginning exercise.

The duration of time each day is no more than 45 minutes, 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. A warm up on bike, treadmill, skipping only takes 5-10 minutes. The warm up is used to increase circulation and bring oxygen to the brain. Definitely no pushing exercises the first 3 to 4 weeks. You can start with no pain. On the 4 or 5 week you may increase to 4 days a week Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. On days off try to swim, walk, run carefully.


Building a strong, efficient and youthful body is very similar to building a house. First, you start with the foundation and from there you continue to grow. Once the house is built you can't really see the foundation, however you know it's there. In body training you create the foundation by doing basic total body movements, example the deadlift, which uses two-thirds of your body. Another exercise that uses 2/3 of the body is squats.

Squats - View Exercise
Most people believe that squats are hard and dangerous. Well, they are right. Because of widespread lower back pain, there is a fear with this exercise. But like everything else, fear can be overcome, by carefully doing squats. Start with just the bar, once you can do 20 repetitions with the bar, then you may increase 10 pounds at a time. Here is how.

Beginning Position
Grasp the bar with a firm grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Step under the bar and position feet parallel to each other. Move hips under the bar in a balanced position. The bar will rest on the shoulders above the posterior deltoids, at the middle of the trapezium muscle. Lift and hold chest up and out. Pull shoulder blades towards each other and at the same time tilt head slightly up, straighten both legs to lift bar out of the racks. Take one or two steps backwards. Position feet shoulder width apart and even with each other.

Downward Movement
Focus eyes straight-ahead slightly above eye level. Slowly, and under control, lower the bar by flexing at the hips and knees. Maintain erect body position, keep the weight over the middle of the foot and heels (not the toes). Keep heels on the floor. Slowly lower hips until the top of the thighs are parallel to the floor, do not bounce at the bottom of the movement.

Upward Movement
Keeping eyes straight ahead and slightly above eye level, raise the bar slowly by straightening the hips and the knees. Keep knees aligned under the feet, maintain erect, tensed torso. Do not let knees move in and out and do not accelerate the bar at the top of the movement. At the completion of the repetition, or set, slowly step forward into the rack, position hips beneath the bar, squat down until the bar is resting in the rack.

Inhale during the downward movement, exhale through the sticking point of the upward movement. Slowly, good technique, lightweights and total concentration.

Routine Basics
:: Beginners - 3 sets of 10 reps, 3 times a week
:: Advanced - 5 sets of 10 reps, 2 times a week
:: Elite Athlete - 10 sets of 10 reps, once a week

Weight Belts
Weight belts should be used only when necessary. If you are not moving large amounts of weights and you have no lower back injuries, then a weight belt is not necessary. If you have a history of lower back problems, wear a belt. For someone that has no lower back problems, the belt could become a crutch, for it would promote weak links.

By using a belt when not necessary, you promote unrealistic fear of that exercise. The expectation of a problem could actually create the problem you are trying to avoid. I realize many people are using belts as a preventative measure. However thoughts have energy and you get what you pay attention to the most. Start off with light weights, no belt and see what happens.

Basic Arm Training

Biceps and Triceps with EZ Bar
Well-developed arms are a sign of strength and confidence. All men want good size in arms and all women desire firm, not flabby soft arms. The biceps are the front arm muscles and the triceps are the back of the arm muscles. To keep things simple, the word biceps means two muscles and triceps, three muscles.

The Olympic EZ bar is a familiar sight in all gyms. This bar is much shorter (better for balance) and shaped specifically for optimum handgrip and correct wrist position. The EZ bar is for biceps and triceps development and is more biologically correct for hand, wrist and forearm participation. The EZ bar's weight is 20 lb. with safety collars to keep the weight from sliding off.

Standing Biceps Curl - View Exercise
Standing with feet slightly apart with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing upward. Let the bar hand down at arm's length in front of you. Upward motion: Curl (raise) the bar out and up in a wide arc and bring it up as high as you can, keeping the elbows close to the body and stationary. Keep the arc wide and long, rather than bringing the bar straight up and making the movement more with your shoulders. Flex your biceps at the top of the movement and squeeze the biceps as hard as possible (keeping tension).

Downward Motion
Lower the bar slowly with control maintaining tension and follow the same arc resisting the weight all the way down until your arms are fully extended (stretching the biceps).

A slight amount of body movement is acceptable, but kept to a minimum. Don't swing the weight up with your body by cutting down the range of motion and using momentum instead of strength. Full range motion is most effective.

Upward Movement
Another common error is when you lift your elbows during the upward motion of the arc. Concentrate on keeping elbows down and at your side. An excellent variation is to grasp the bar reverse grip and using the same movements as the biceps curl. This reverse grip curl develops the outside of the biceps (brachial muscle) and develops front forearms.

Exhale through the upward movement and inhale during the downward movement.

Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extensions View Exercise
This exercise develops the triceps from elbow to armpit including all three parts to the triceps muscle. Lying flat on a bench with your head slightly off the edge of the bench and knees bent with feet flat on the floor. Take hold of the EZ bar with an overhand grip ten inches apart.

Upward Movement
Press the bar up until your arms are locked out, not over your face but the weight should be behind the top of your head with triceps extended fully holding up the weight. Use control and concentration.

Downward Movement
Keep control of the weight, elbows stationary. Lower the weight downward towards your forehead, and then press it back up to the extended position. Keep control and concentrate not to bang your head with the bar.

Inhale during the downward movement and exhale through the press upward.

Routine Basics
Start with lightweights and work your way up.

:: Beginners - 3 sets of 10 reps, light weight
:: Advanced - 5 sets of 8-10 reps, medium weight
:: Elite Athlete - 8 sets of 5-7 reps, med-heavy weight

Arm Curls

One of my favorite ways of exercising is the use of Super Sets. Doing two or three exercises in a row. Today's example for better looking biceps and forearms. Reverse curls Super Set with single arm dumbbell preacher curls.

Reverse Curls with Olympic Bar - View Exercise
Purposes to develop the outside biceps and forearms. Standing with your feet a few inches apart, grasp a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it down in front of you at arms length. Keeping your elbows steady and close to the body, curl the weight out and up to your chin. Lower the weight through the same arc, slowly resisting all the way down. Then repeat, quickly up and slowly down.

Keep the weight light and squeeze your grip throughout all the movement. Holding the thumbs on the outside or the top of the bar forces concentrated effort and consistent tension on the outside biceps (brachialis).

Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls - View Exercise
Doing preacher curls with dumbbells forces each arm to work independently. Also when changing the angle of the wrist you will work the biceps from another angle. The purpose of this exercise is to develop the lower area of the biceps and to lengthen and thicken the biceps muscle. Position yourself with your chest against the incline bench and your arms extending over it.

Take hold of the dumbbell in an underhand grip, and curl the dumbbell all the way down holding your body steady against the incline bench. When your arm is fully extended slowly curl the dumbbell up towards yourself; and then lower it slowly resisting all the way down.

Try this Super Set 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps, start out light and slowly move your weight up. You'll feel an immediate positive change in your biceps.

Exercise Order

There is order in the universe. The body is highly organized and there is a definite order to the way you are made. So it would make sense that your body has an orderly way to exercise for maximum results in the shortest period of time.

Exercise Order and Sequence
A basic rule is to exercise your large muscle groups first and smaller muscle groups last. Example: Large muscle groups are legs (quadriceps-hamstrings), back, chest, and shoulders. Small muscle groups include calves, forearms, trapezius, biceps and triceps.

The current physical condition of the person may play a role in determining the order of exercise during all periods of the training cycle. Another consideration during all periods of training is areas of strength and weakness; the areas of weaknesses should demand priority in the workout sequence, example: strong chest-weak shoulders. Work out shoulders before the chest. Have the most energy for weak areas.

The first phase of exercise is largely devoted to developing a condition base, which most often consists of non-specific exercises that train all major muscle groups, example: exercise bike or running. During this phase the volume (repetitions) is high and the intensity (weight) is low. A traditional circuit weight training and other programs normally alternate upper body and lower body exercises. This allows muscles to rest while others are being exercised.

General Exercise Techniques

Super Setting
This involves alternating agonistic and antagonists of a joint with minimum rest between exercises, example: biceps curls super set with triceps presses. Or leg extensions super set leg curls. Three sets of each for beginners and five sets for the more advanced, and up to ten sets for the elite athlete.

Compound Sets
This involves two different exercises for the same muscle group in alternative fashion with little to no rest between exercises, example: barbell curls followed by dumbbell alternating curls or bench press for chest alternating dumbbell chest press. Stimulation the same muscle groups for different angles.

In this technique a muscle is fatigued in a single joint, isolated movement prior to performing a multi-joint exercise involving same muscle groups, example: squats followed by leg curls or squats followed by leg extensions.

Everyone in the beginning will find that super setting, compound setting and pre-exhaustion techniques are very strenuous. These techniques are not to be applied at every work out. Once a week for beginners and twice a week for more advanced; never apply these techniques two consecutive days. It is necessary to have at least two days rest between work out days using these techniques; to allow more time for recovery.

Exercise Recovery

Many books have been written on exercise, benefits, techniques. However very little has been written on exercise recovery. For years the Soviet Union and many eastern countries have long known the importance of rest and recuperation and how it's necessary for anyone on a consistent exercise program or discipline.

Muscle technologists have recently found that each body part has its own recuperative time clock. In general, big muscle groups recover slower than smaller muscle groups. For example: legs take more time to recover than arms. Recovery is directly related to intensity and length of the workouts. Older persons need longer recovery time. Stress, poor diet, cigarettes, medication, alcohol and lack of sleep will greatly hinder recovery time.

Oriental martial arts have always had their traditional recuperative secrets, using pressure points, massage and acupuncture techniques blended with herbs and various tree barks to absorb pain and nurse muscle fatigue.

Heat Sources
All active cultures have used heat for speeding recuperation. Some of the heat sources are sauna, Jacuzzi and steam bath. The benefits of heat are increased circulatory and neuromuscular tone and a decrease in pain brought on by intense muscular activity. It also helps the muscle cells to remove waste products as in lactic acid. Here are some of the guidelines:

  1. Bathe and towel off before entering a sauna or steam bath, this helps to sweat more and aids the body heat regulation.
  2. Spend a total of 15 to 20 minutes in a dry heat or steam bath approximately 15 min. after you work out. Don't go into the sauna or the steam out of breath, recover first until your breathing is normal.
  3. Be sure you replace the fluids lost during the sweating, drink lots of purified water.
  4. Don't overheat your body, no exercises and no extended periods of time n saunas or steam rooms.

No time for sauna or steam, use hot and cold showers. After washing, 30 seconds cold, 1 minute hot, repeat again and end with a 30 second cold and out you go. This will increase your circulation and increase recovery.

High intensity workouts are essential for change and growth, however you cannot take shortcuts with other aspects that are essential for progress. SLEEP. It's when you're sleeping when the majority of your muscles recover and grow. Sleep is a time of increased anabolic activity, hormone activity is increased, amino acids are transported into the cells and waste products removed.

Your body temperature, as well as blood pressure, will drop. Heart rate and metabolic rate slows down. Sleep means your body is at rest and is recuperating. Even the big muscle on your neck (the brain) is resting and recovering. Lack of sleep affects your physical and emotional well-being.

All cultures have embraced the art of massage in order to help speed muscle recovery and aid in injury prevention. Sports massage speeds muscle recovery three times faster than passive rest. Sports massage promotes blood and lymph flow and lactic acid removal in the muscle.

Stretching in general before exercising should be part of everyone's warm up routine. Stretching specific muscles that are being exercised after each set also helps in recovery of joints and maintains your range of motion, increased flexibility. Stretching in your cool down time after intense weight training or intense cardiovascular is very helpful and necessary.

Nutrition also aids recovery, it is necessary to have a nutritional meal, 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 30% mono-unsaturated fat, within 30 to 60 minutes after workout. The window of opportunity is only good for 60 minutes. The sooner you replace your lost nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and amino acids, the sooner you'll be ready for your next workout. Practice mental relaxation. Get the sleep you need. Diet and supplement correctly.

Learn all you can about your physical and psychological self. Apply the things you are learning to your training and your life. It will make a difference.