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Biceps Blasting Basics



Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By Terry Goodlad | Feb 21, 2007



Bicep TrainingYou would think bicep training should be pretty simple...just do curls. Dumbbells, barbells and if you have a half way's decent gym there is probably a good variety of machines that will help you assault the stubborn little monsters with enough variety you shouldn't get too bored. It all sounds pretty good and hardly a topic you would pen an entire article about and if everyone had massive swollen biceps after all that bicep training then chances are this article would be about building your quads or some bodypart a little more complex.

But look around you, for the most part we live amongst a generation of big shoulders, big backs, and if you follow the Olympia and other top bodybuilding contest, lean and hard and massive protruding stomachs. Instead of bodybuilding being about symmetry, shape and creating a living sculpture with consistent hard work shaping a genetic specimen with iron and sweat into a modern living and breathing sculpture, bodybuilding has evolved into a game of who can weigh more, who can lift more and who can get bigger.

The easy part about bodybuilding is getting big. Keeping that size and shaping it into something the world has rarely seen is what bodybuilding was originally all about and that's a whole lot harder to do than just get big. Those hypnotic pictures from back in the early days taken in Golds Gym in Venice of Arnold Schwartzengovenor's engorged biceps motivated an entire generation of bodybuilders to train with finesse, gently but firmly coaxing their muscles to grow while shaping them and giving them form. Before that it was Larry Scott who was famous for many things like being a nice guy for one and also having some of the world's most impressive biceps. Back in those days having a full and round set of biceps was absolutely vital if you wanted to be taken serious as a bodybuilder. As time marched on and pictures of bodybuilders simply training smart wasn't sexy enough to sell magazines anymore a new generation of bodybuilder clad in torn cutoffs, sunglasses, a mangled tank top and finished off with a light spritz of fake sweat started to appear in our favorite bodybuilding magazines. In those pictures the superstar bodybuilders of the time looked to be moving enough weight to tear muscle off the bone, apparently terrorizing their muscles to make them grow. It sent a visual message that if you want to be big you have to lift more weight than is humanly possible and words like "concentration" and "proper form" faded from the next generation's bodybuilding vocabulary. Those pictures captivated the bodybuilding world and inspired muscle heads everywhere to follow their lead of getting bigger for the sake of size alone and lifting more weight for the sake of lifting more weight alone and somewhere along the way, we stopped seeing biceps that took our breath away.

So, this article and program may seem simplistic. It will certainly fly in the face of much of the new-generation mantra about training that is accepted these days where you pile on tons of weight, far more than you can lift in good form and throw up a couple really ugly reps and call it overload training. If you follow this program your biceps will grow, they will take on a pleasing shape, but you won't do it lifting more weight than is necessary to stimulate growth and you won't be torturing your body to get the job done. It's just a good old fashioned biceps training program that won't impress the guy next to you while you do the work, but he will be wondering what the heck you did to make your guns look the way they will when you are done.

TIPS:
  • Train your biceps only once a week.

  • If you train them with another bodypart then make sure you train your biceps first in the workout.

  • Squeezing the bar in your hand as hard as possible will help give you a more solid feel to each movement and will help keep most of the workload on your biceps.

  • Once you have completed the 8 week program you can give your arms a one week break and start it all over again if you would like to.

WEEK ONE & TWO
One arm Bent over dumbbell Concentration Curls 2 20
*Flex and hold the squeeze at the top of the movement for about a second on each of the first ten reps.

*Perform these with your arm hanging freely straight down you're your body in a bent over position holding the dumbbell, and your elbow pointing toward the floor. As you curl up the dumbbell your elbow should never move around. The only movement should come from your forearm as you curl up each rep. If your elbow moves then reduce the weight.

*Use a straight bar and the cable crossover machine setting the pulley to the lowest position on the bottom. Lean slightly forward bringing your elbows forward of your body so the line from your shoulder to your elbow is at 90 degrees to the floor. As you curl the bar up your elbows should not move forward or backward.

*Start with a lighter weight and stay in control through the whole movement yet keep a good tempo going from rep to rep. If you can squeeze every rep at the top of the movement and stay in control from top to bottom then you are doing it right. Add weight every set as you reduce the number of repetitions you perform.

*The most common mistake with hammer curls is using too much weight. If you can't complete an entire movement without shrugging your shoulder upward and not curling to the top of the movement then take less weight. Start with less weight than you can handle normally and do these in control. You may be surprised how little weight you need to work your muscles.
WEEK THREE & FOUR
Crossover Standing curls 2 20
*Adjust the cable crossover handles, if you have an adjustable cable crossover, to about shoulder height. Take the handles and curl but make sure your hands don't move in front of your body so your hand, elbow and shoulder are not in line and also make sure your elbows don't drop below the plane of your shoulders. If either happen then you are using more weight than you need and other muscle groups other than your biceps are taking over the workload.

*There are a wide variety of machines in every gym so its not important which one you use, just pick one you like and when you use it you can feel the stress on your biceps and not as much on your forearms. As you do these make sure you get a peak contraction at the top of each curl. Do your best to make your biceps scream each rep and don't concern yourself with too much weight. Use enough to get a good "feel" for the movement but create the hard contraction yourself, don't rely on just the weight to do it for you.

*The trick to these working well again is keep the form perfect, the weight reasonable so you can keep a good tempo going but not throw the weight, bend over backwards to get the weight up, and you can control the contraction as well as the decent of the weight as you complete each rep. Using less weight is better as you can increase the resistance by contracting your biceps harder. Using too much weight will just cause some other muscle groups to take over the work and your biceps benefit very little from all the energy spent.

*Again you won't need a lot of weight to make these scream. Keep good form and squeeze each rep hard.
WEEK FIVE & SIX
One Arm Bent Over Low Cable Curls 3 20
*Stand with your arm positioned like you did with one arm bent over dumbbell curls but as you curl these up you want your elbow and forearm at 90 degrees to your body so you curl the handle across your chest keeping your elbow away from your body. Again, if your elbow starts to move around you are using too much weight.

*Squeeze the handle as hard as you can as you do these and don't lower the dumbbell to the point that you arm is straight at the bottom of the movement. Keep a slight bend in your elbow to keep tension on the muscles. Squeeze these hard at the top of the movement.

*This exercise can be tricky but if done properly your biceps will let you know it as they will be screaming half way through the set. Sit in an incline bench at about a 45 degree angle with your shoulders back and your arms hanging at your side. As you start to curl the weight keep your hands (the dumbbells) at about a 45 degree angle from your body. Make absolute sure your elbows are not moving forward or your delts do most of the work. Keep your shoulders back on the bench and your elbows stationary through the movement.
WEEK SIX & SEVEN
Bent Over Low Cable Curls 3 15
*This exercise is performed like the one arm bent over cable curls you did the week before except you use a straight bar. You will perform the cadence very differently though for these sets. The first five reps you will perform quickly but in control with full movements. The next five reps will be slow and you will hold a peak contraction for a count of 2 seconds on each rep. Then the last 5 reps you will do the same as you did with the first five. These are nasty.

*This will take some heart...and some pain tolerance. Start with a weight you can comfortably perform 8 reps with. When you are done performing the 8 reps then set down the dumbbells and immediately pick up the set of dumbbells that are 5 lbs lighter and do another 8 reps. Set those down and pick up the next lower set of dumbbells and do 5 more reps then keep working your way down the rack of dumbbells until you can't perform any more reps with good form. There is no rest in between sets of dumbbells and as you get lighter you want to slow down the reps and try to squeeze the biceps as hard as possible to make sure they are doing the work and some other muscle groups are not taking over. Once this set is done your workout is done. You only need one of these to stimulate growth.




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