"I want hu-u-uge biceps!" is a rather normal wish at the gyms out there. You've heard it, and most of you have said it too, when inspecting your arms in the locker-room mirror. Well, biceps are no problem, but isn't it more like you want huge ARMS? I mean, the biceps are such small muscles in the whole picture, and wouldn't you look rather funny if you had the biceps of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the triceps and forearms of Woody Allen?
And to complicate it even further, there's more than just biceps flexing the elbow joint - there's a strong supportive muscle called brachialis lying pretty much right underneath the bicep. So what? Well, a breast implant can do wonders to women by "pushing out" what's already there, and it's a no-brainer that if you have a big muscle "pushing out" the biceps, it creates the image of a very massive arm! Difference is, the implant requires surgery. The arm "only" requires focus and blood'n'guts training.
All right, by now I think we've concluded that biceps are more of the tip of the iceberg, so how would we go about creating those overall impressive guns that look good from every angle? For one thing, we have to train all the different parts of the arm. Most of them should be treated as separate muscles, so try to come up with at least one specific exercise for each part. Oh! And don't forget: Balance above all. 8 sets for one part and 2 for the next won't do. A weaker part will not benefit from tons of extra sets, and before you know it you've overtrained it without really noticing.
The Complete Arm-Blaster:
Hammer Curls: 2 sets
Grab two pretty heavy dumbbells and let them hang by your sides with the palms facing your hips. Stand balanced, knees slightly bent, abs tense and shoulders down and back. Exercise by curling your arms up simultaneously with your palms facing each other. Avoid moving your elbows. If you like, you might give it an extra squeeze at the top for a sec or two. Also avoid alternating your arms, as you WILL start cheating as you grow tired! To get an extra burn in the forearms, you can try angling the palms slightly down towards the floor as you slowly descend.
Standing Cable Curls: 2 sets
Attach a straight bar to the lower pulley, stand balanced as described during the hammer curls and simply curl. Think "biceps" and focus on the peak-burn. While the Hammer Curl is more of a power-movement, this is fine-tuning. Try to be as strict as possible and make sure to grind out every last ounce of energy before you put the bar down.
Reverse Scottcurls: 2 sets
Sit down by the scott-bench. Plant your feet firmly to the floor, maintain a fairly straight back and rest your elbows and triceps against the pad. Grip the bar, but as opposed to ordinary bicep-curls your palms are facing downwards. You can keep the grip spacing pretty narrow, in the 4-6 inches range depending on your shoulder width. Elbows should be fixed throughout the movement. Consciously keep your shoulders down & back, even when you start getting tired. This exercise can be done with straight wrists, or you can give the upper part of your forearms an extra blast by curling the wrist upwards as you go. Go slightly lighter, and make sure that you don't feel any pain or pinches.
Tricep Pushdowns: 2 sets
Assume the balanced starting position, but this time you've attached the bar to the top pulley. Grasp the bar with a monkey-grip - i.e. thumbs on the same side as the fingers - and simply press down until you've almost locked out. Like before, make sure to maintain lowered shoulders, and keep your elbows like they were glued to the sides! Avoid rocking your body.
Dips: 2 sets
Most gyms have assisted dips nowadays, and the more experienced trainer will probably find a suitable belt to which he can attach extra weights. Aim for being in the 6-10 reps-zone. Grab the handles, cross your feet and simply pound it out! Save your shoulders by not going deeper than having your upper-arm parallell to the floor. Don't swing your body - let the triceps do the work.
Standing Forearm Curls: 2 sets
This exercise is preferably done by a rack. Set the rack so that it's only a few inches to the point where you'll be holding the barbell when standing straight up. Assume the balanced position, being extra careful to tense your abs, and hold the barbell while your arms are pretty much just hanging there. Now let the barbell roll down almost out to your finger tips, where you turn and slowly roll it back up. When your fists are securely clenched around the bar you continue the motion by curling the forearms as far back as they will go. After a few peak contractions, your entire forearms should be on fire.
For those of us who have used straps to excess during the early years, I recommend adding 1-2 extra sets of statics. That is, loading on about three times as much as you're doing the curls with and just trying to hold on to the bar for as long as possible. Have a friend time you, and aim to increase the time by 5 seconds or 5 lbs (same time) every session.
Now, this should be a step towards truly impressive guns. Don't forget to alternate exercises and poundages to avoid plateaus.
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