Sunday, November 21, 2021

Biceps Peak - Larry Scott


by Larry Scott

Ever hear of a Spider Bench? 

It's a funny name for a bench, but . . . I'll tell you what isn't funny . . . it's the peak you'll see on your arm after using one for a while. 

You may not know what I'm talking about because you hardly ever see this bench in the gyms these days. Too bad . . . because it's an incredibly effective bench for building biceps. But, if you travel to Vince's Gym in Studio City, California, there's still an 8-legged, sweat-stained Spider bench sitting right in the middle of the floor and . . . boy, can you build some arms on this thing.

I guess I ought to be more specific. I'm not talking about triceps or even lower biceps. I'm talking avbout peak biceps. The kind of biceps that slip out from underneath the deltoid and climb to a gnarled knob of twisted steel. I know, I know, it's not really steel but it's hard as steel and a well developed biceps can take your breath away just as if it was forged from iron. 

There's no way you'll do it unless you make full use of the unhinging magic of one joint vs. two joint action. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this concept other than to say, biceps is a two joint muscle and brachio-radialus is a one joint muscle. I've mentioned this before in prior articles so I'm not going to . . . oh, what the heck, just a little more detail or you won't understand what's coming next. 

The brachio-radialus is the tricky little devil that gives so much peak to the upper arm but . . . even though it performs the same function as the biceps it's totally bullied by the biceps. The brachio can totally loaf along and the biceps doesn't even miss it. 

The key is . . . to get the biceps out of the picture to bring the brachio-radialus to life. And here's the beauty of the one joint vs. two joint action. The one joint, brachio, works more and the two joint, biceps, works less . . . the higher you move the elbow over the head.

A perfect exercis to illustrate this concept is the seated curl behind neck on the lat machine. The higher you point the elbows the more the brachio works and the biceps can't do anything about it. Unfortunately, the brachio is as weak as a kitten so . . . you can't use much weight. But if you can do without the ego boost the seated lat machine curl will build some terrific peak on your biceps. 

On the other handm, if you're hooked on some size but you still want to flirt with peak, the Spider is your baby because the Spider bench fixes your elbows somewhere between the brachio and biceps position. In other words, you can still use a pretty good weight while your beating the tar out of the brachio.

When I moved to Utah I really missed the Spider bench at Vince's. There was nothing like it here in Salt Lake and after a while I could tell the difference in my arm peak. So I flew back to L.A. and paid Vince a visit. After a lot of pleading on my part, he finally gave the the okay to copy his masterpiece.     

Why the Spider Bench is So Good

Many years ago Vince came up with the idea of building a bench that would do the same job as the vertical side of the preacher bench, but do it a lot better.

First thing he did was make a pad on a bench in the form of a cross. This perfectly supports the chest so you're not cutting off your air or creating pain just trying to stay in position. Then he made the angle of the bench 15 degrees off horizontal.

Visualize this is you can. You're lying face down on the bench. Your arms are hanging over the top of the cross and the back of the arms are supported by the arm rests. Your hands are about 8 inches apart with the thumbs on the same side of the bar as the fingers (see first photo above). You curl the bar all the way up to the chin and down again until you can't do any more full reps. Then do 4 or 5 half reps at the top. Lower the bar and do 5 or 6 quarter-reps at the bottom. Then bounce out 10 or 12 reps right down low until your arms are roasted.

Believe me . . . this system is almost magic when it comes to building peak biceps. We never failed to finish off our arms with burnouts on the Spider till we couldn't stand the pain. Then we ran over to the tape measure to see how much we could get. Makes my mouth water just to think about it.

That's why I was so excited when Vince gave me permission to copy his Spider bench, I took a camera to get the angles dimensions and all that kind of stuff right. Anyway, I thought I had them right. I should have better attention. Because the . . . 

Correct Angles are Vital

Using the information I got from Vince, I built a mock up and took it over to the gym here in Salt Lake to see how it felt. I didn't have Vince's Spider bench right next to mine to compare but . . . as far as I could tell, mine felt pretty good.

Then . . . not too long ago, I got an injury on the Preacher so . . . I was tinkering around with my Spider to see if I could trainsform it into a quasi-Preacher-Spider bench.

I started playing around with different angles to see if I could come up with something. I wasn't reallly expecting anything spectacular. I was really trying to find something that would help me limp along while I healed.

I started off putting different sized blocks under the front end of the bench . . . hmm . . . 4 inches would be about right. Let me try that.

I laid down on the bench and grabbed the bar and . . . man . . . whaat a difference. All of a sudden . . . the movement sprang to life. Suddenly I felt the same incredibly delicious burn   

Bill McArdle and I used to get while we were training together at Vince's. I forgot all about "injury healing" and lapped up the joy of a truly fantastic biceps pump. Several minutes and muliple sets later . . . I came back down to earth to contemplate what had happened. 

I asked myself, how did I miss that? I hadn't even realized the angle was slightly off.

But with new sensation of pure . . . I mean really pure . . . biceps work it was easy to see I had been missing something. I never realized how critical the angle was. Just a few degrees and everything changed. I want you to feel the same thing. 

How to Build Your Own Spider Bench

I'll give you all the details so you can make one of these things on your own. The top of the bench . . . or in other words . . . the part you lay on is build in the form of a cross.

Each leg of the cross is 4 inches wide. The lower leg of the cross is 24 inches long. The side and top arm are 4 inches long. The angle of the top is 17 degrees off horizontal. The arm rest pads are 90 degrees from the angle of the top of the pad. 

Look at the picture. Go ahead. Do it, you'll love it. I promise. 

Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal wihch takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

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