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by Anthony Millar of dotfitness.co.uk
The biceps, along with the chest are arguably the most desirable body-parts for a man to develop. Despite the biceps being a smaller muscle group they still require a maximum of 10 working sets; they also need addressing in the same manner as regards effort and concentration as all other muscles of the body. These muscles are generally over-worked to the point where they are unable to recuperate and therefore grow. Only one session a week is need for these muscles to be broken down directly. Bearing this in mind it is of absolute vital importance that this time is not wasted and the biceps are developed to their true potential. The following text serves as a rough idea on correct bicep training, including advice on technique and training intensity.
1. Alternate Supinated Curls. 1 Warm-up Set. 4 Working Sets. 30 Single-arm repetitions of 20% of 1 rep max.
1. 16 Single-arm repetitions of 50% of 1 rep max.
2. 16 Single-arm repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
3. 14 Single-arm repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
4. 12 Single-arm repetitions of 65% of 1 rep max.
Description: This movement arguably represents the most advanced exercise for building mass and strength as regards the biceps. By nature this is probably the most demanding bicep exercise, which is why it should be performed predominantly at the beginning of each bicep routine. This movement forces a complete contraction from the biceps, which suggests why it should form the ‘backbone of any good bicep session.
Technique: As with all ‘free weight’ movements there is a strict emphasis on technique. It is of great importance that movements are restricted to the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. Leg/back movement should be kept to an absolute minimum. This allows maximum stress to be exerted on the target area. To conduct this exercise start with the dumbbells by your side (in a standing or seated position) with your palms facing inward. Exhale as you raise one arm at a time keeping the elbow in toward the mid-section. Slowly supinate your forearm, which allows for a more complete contraction, so that the little finger is higher than the thumb. Repeat this process with your other arm after you have slowly returned the starting arm back to its original position, whilst taking a deep breath in.
Intensity: To begin with, during the first 3 weeks concentrate on mastering the correct form whilst reducing resting times from 3 minutes to only two. If done correctly this alone will produce an immense amount of intensity. However be aware that your body is a habitual creature and will adapt to the point where this alone does not provide adequate resistance for new growth. Like with all exercises you can either increase the weight or include some kind of intensity technique. As this exercise is compound orientated we would advise an increase in resistance once the muscle begin to strengthen. Although ’drop-sets’ (see article on intensity) can provide a very fast way to take the biceps to fatigue, something to bear in mind if you have little time.
2. Straight-Barbell Curls. 4 Working Sets.
1. 10 repetitions of 50% of 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
3. 8 repetitions of 65% of 1 rep max.
4. 6 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
Description: Again another mass builder, which concentrates solely on the biceps most natural contraction, the flexing of the elbow. If done correctly this exercise alone can produce fantastic results. Although if done in a sloppy manner can produce some nasty lower back injuries, it is therefore recommended that you wear a training belt just in case. As this exercise is also compound orientated it could be argued that it is best alternated with the alternate supinated curls to provide an additional shock to the muscles.
Technique: This is such a wonderful exercise which has been performed regularly by elite athletes for over 60 years. Yet it never ceases to amaze us here at dot-fitness the amount of people who substitute correct form and technique for extra weight on the bar. This is foolish thinking as this additional weight (often referred to as trophy weight) requires contraction of the calves quads and lower back. Do not be drawn into this scenario, remember that it is not what you lift, it is how you lift it what really matters. Always keep this in the forefront of your mind when approaching such exercises, as this will ultimately dictate the outcome of your efforts. Stand straight with your arms straight so that the bar hangs to the tops of your thighs. Exhale as you raise your arms, keeping the elbows in and tucking the weight roughly 2 inches below the chin. In the same deliberate manner slowly lower your arms back to the original starting position as you take a deep breath in.
Intensity: To begin with, as with the alternate supinated curls take the first 3 weeks to concentrate on mastering the correct form whilst reducing resting times from 3 minutes to only two. If done correctly this alone will produce an immense amount of intensity, especially if performed after the supinated curls. As this exercise is compound orientated we would advise an increase in resistance once the muscle begin to strengthen. Although ‘rest-pause‘ (see article on intensity) can provide a very fast way to take the biceps to fatigue, although keep the technique tight to avoid picking up any unwanted bad habits such as swinging.
3. Concentration Curls. 2 Working sets.
1. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
Description: The concentration curls if done correctly have the ability to sculpt the biceps as they predominantly target the peak of the muscle. This gives the muscle added shape and increased height, all of which contribute to a more muscular appearance. This is a great exercise to finish off your routine after all the heavy lifts have been completed. At this point you should be feeling fatigued, so the inclusion of an isolating movement regarded highly for its aforementioned benefits can be of great use.
Technique: This exercise can be performed in a number of ways, i.e. seated and standing whilst bent over. In the interest of lower back safety it is probably best to conduct the seated version. Simply sit at the end of your bench and bend over with your feet roughly 2 feet apart, so that your upper arm is rested against your inner thigh and the weight is slightly above ground level. Exhale as you raise your arm toward the opposing knee. For example, if you are curling with your right arm the weight should be lifted in the direction of the left knee. Be sure not to encourage any deltoid contraction by swing the weight, as the purpose of this exercise is to isolate the muscle. You can also experiment putting a slight twist into the movement (see supinate curls) for a fuller contraction. Or simply alternate between the two to keep the muscles guessing.
Intensity: This is the final exercise of the entire workout, so as much as you would like to finish with a bang, just getting through the workout with 2-3 minute rests will be a challenge for the first 3 weeks. Although as you do adapt, try to swap the weight over immediately from one hand to the other upon completion of the set. This denies the muscles sufficient rest to fully recover before their next set. This will intensify the muscles pump and assure the muscles have been fully broken down.
In conclusion then this workout is aimed at those individuals wanting increased development of the biceps. Please note that over time these muscles will adapt to the various stimuli so therefore it is essential that both the weights and movements are constantly changed. The weights for example should be slightly increased when the final set can be performed with perfect technique for more than the designated number of repetitions. As for the movements stick to only 3 but every now and again include, a variation of curling movements as well as experimenting with the way in which the dumbbells can be curled. For example try raising the dumbbells keeping the palms inward at all times. This is great for building up the muscles of the forearm. Remember to make each workout slightly different to the previous one ensuring constant stimulation to the working muscles.
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