Sunday, October 28, 2018

Biceps with a Twist and a Tilt - Frank Love

Robby Robinson

Granted, you may have read a ton on training biceps. Since no one has yet to reinvent the wheel, you might safely assume that any article on biceps is just another rewarming of old material. However, the variables attached to those exercises - the many ways of altering a workout - can change the entire face of the same old fare. It can also add new muscle to your upper arms . . .

There are numerous ways to alter a workout and improve the benefits of any given exercise. Whether you vary the pace, weight, apparatus, repetitions or sets, incorporating these variables can make the difference between a candy-ass workout and a complete dismantling of everything meek and mild about your biceps.

After all, you're in the gym to get bigger, aren't you? You wouldn't spend all the time and energy you expend on some half-assed workout (is halfassed hyphonated?) that might . . . quite possibly . . . if you're lucky . . . every other Sunday on even days . . . maybe make you bigger. Why do it otherwise? To look like some underwear model in the Sunday Times? Yeah, right.

The only problem is which variable you should choose and when. During which workout? And with which weight and apparatus? Well, no one can possibly provide that information for you. Even though the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, not even that will provide a meter for your own body. No matter who sets forth a workout to follow, you'll still have to try it for yourself for a while and determine its worth. That can take years.

There is, however, one way you can assure yourself that your biceps will respond to any variable and stimulus. Sure, you have to change apparatus occasionally like everyone else (and we all know that variety is still the only game in town regardless of what activity you're talking about). But, this is something you can do to enhance any style of workout. This technique in combination with a deliberate choice of other variables should make your workouts better than ever.

The idea may not seem new because it's one of the basics you learn as you are being baptized into gym life. It's not magic. But think about it. When you learned the importance of variety in training, did you ever really find out why it is beneficial to your workouts? Past the first year have you faithfully applied it on a regular basis?

This technique we're speaking of is the rotation, twist, and angle applied to each rep of each set. It may sound insipid and totally worthless to a person who looks only for the newest and most complicated way to train the body, but give it a chance - once you find out more of the facts about it.

One of the best ways to look at rotation - the twisting and turning of the joints while resistance is applied - is to consider the feet while a person runs. You've certainly heard of supination and pronation if you've ever stopped into a local athletic footwear store and stood for any length of time in the shoe section. These are common terms, most people assume, applicable only to running and the feet.

They also apply to bodybuilding in many ways.

Supination and pronation indicate the turning in or turning out of a joint, or, in the case of a hand or foot, the appendage connected to any joint. Changing the angle of a joint by the tilt or twist of he wrist seems such a simple device. That it might have a large impact on the muscle group is almost inconceivable to some people, but twisting and turning the wrist while working biceps can drastically affect the part of the biceps being targeted. [This can be applied to other bodyparts.] What's more, it will still allow you to work the entire surface of the muscle group while focusing on one specific part at the top or bottom of the movement. This is an advantage because you many not want to spend all day working your biceps.

In fact, working the biceps too long and hard can cause the opposite effect of what was originally desired. The smaller the muscle group (and the biceps are among the smaller ones), the more easily you can overtrain it. If you were to work the biceps through a routine of "plain vanilla" exercises and were always to lift the weights with a flat wrist, then move on to more complex combined movements, the stress would be too much for your biceps to handle and they might actually lose size instead of growing.

Combining as much technique as possible into one movement is crucial to any good workout, but it's particularly critical for those muscle groups which cannot handle excessive sets. Reps, however, are a different story. In this workout you are advised to use a high rep scheme because there is invariably more than one angle from which to work the muscle. Using only one angle per workout limits growth and development. Instead, employing two or three angles per exercise can enhance your workout every time.

The angle of the elbow joint also contributes to the effectiveness of various twists and turns during a biceps exercise. [You're going to try to find ways to apply this to other bodyparts, right] Not only can you effect change during each exercise by altering the position and angle of the wrist, but you can also create a completely different center of gravity. This exercise then becomes different again.

For example, the first exercise in this sample workout is Seated DB Curls. After a warmup of light alternating dumbbell curls the next step is to raise your elbows so that instead of keeping them close to your rib cage they move up and out, causing a new angle. Think of your arm as a sort of whip. The angles change as the arm moves upward, and those twists and turns travel along the locus of the whip to create a different effect nearly every inch of the way. Because the angle of the twist of the elbow and wrist are always changing, the exercise is optimally effective.

Sit upright, either with your back against a support or by maintaining good posture, and lift your elbows as the biceps curl the weight. Keep that angle changing at all times. Turn the thumbs out at the top, and either turn them back in as you lower the weight or keep them turned out and lower the weight slowly.

Do 2 x 10-15 slowly and deliberately, getting full benefit of the difference in angles.

Move next to seated barbell curls. Though it may seem like overkill to do a similar exercise with a different apparatus, the barbell allows you to vary hand grip and elbow placement. When you're set with a comfortable weight that will accommodate these changes, you're ready to begin. Let the bar rest in the palms of your hands and grip it with your fingertips instead of fingers and thumbs. Start with the bar lower than your knees, and curl slightly out in front of your knees and shins. When you get to the top of the movement, hold the weight and make certain that your wrists and bent backwards so that the bar is cradled securely in your palms. When you are secure with the weight, slide your grip out about 12 inches on either side. Bring your thumbs around and your wrists back toward your body before lowering the weight slowly. In the second set take a moderate to wide standard grip with the wrists broken away from the body. As you lift, gradually bring your elbows up gradually. At the halfway point curl your wrists toward your face while exaggerating your thumbs outward as if you had dumbbells in hand. Lower the weight back. Keep them flat.

Do 2 x 12-15 slowly and with plenty of contraction.

The final exercise is one-arm biceps curls with a cable. This is a more obvious application of using different angles of the wrist to effect change. The elbow can become involved in much the same way as it has in the other exercises. Cables have the advantage of providing a reverse pull on the biceps through the movement. Dumbbells and barbells supply gravity resistance, but cables give a constant tension that you don't get with other apparatus.

Crouch two or three feet away from a low cable pulley and grip a handle. In the first set break your wrist back and bring your elbow high so that the heel of your hand is level with your forehead. Squeeze at the top. In the second set flex your wrist forward. Alternate turning it in and out for supination and pronation. Alternating in this manner allows you to get a feel of the inner biceps head and the outer brachialis.

Do 2 x 12-15 slowly and deliberately, using moderate weight.

So . . .

. . . a few simple tips to help you build the biceps you've always wanted without overtraining. By combining several techniques into one movement, you add to the effectiveness of your workout. You don't want to work the biceps too long and too hard.

Remember, a simple twist (and tilt) of fate in your workout is all you need to experience new growth from old, familiar exercises. 

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