Archive for the ‘Arms, biceps and triceps’ Category

by STEVEN MILNER IIST

If you want huge, fully developed arms you have to work bloody hard and a side effect of working bloody hard and following these arm training techniques and exercises with maximum intensity is maximum growth.

To build the kind of quality muscle you want you need to employ variety and change to shock the muscle groups of the arms as much as possible to make them respond and grow no matter what size they are now. For absolutely fantastic arm development the biceps, triceps and forearms have to appear equally and evenly developed in proportion to the surrounding muscle groups, e.g. the deltoids, pecs, lats and traps.

The great advantage to training arms is that it doesn’t take much motivation to want to hit them hard, but, developing arms worthy of competition is more than just a matter of building size. It takes a variety of high intensity arm exercises to confuse the arms into gigantic, ripped proportions. Make sure each part of your arms gets equal training for maximal activation and growth, a front-double biceps pose for example requires the biceps to have high peaks while the triceps sit with density and thickness beneath. The forearms should have good angles and mass below the elbow and beyond to complete the pose and tie in with massive delts, traps, and pecs. Sweeping lats, ripped abs and full rib cage complete the pose.
This kind of development doesn’t come easy, it takes hard work, dedication and hard training over the entire body to bring balance, symmetry and power.

Want 20″ Arms? Then read on.
Although the first thing you may think of when you imagine perfect arms is bulging biceps, it’s interesting to point out that the biceps is only one-third of the upper arm, the other two-thirds are triceps. In order to get those much sought after 20 inch guns it takes heavy work on both the biceps and triceps. 20 inch arms were considered unattainable until John Grimek finally achieved them. John won the Mr. America in 1940 and 1941 with his show stealing arms. Since then, many hardcore bodybuilders have been able to reach the magical 20 inches and beyond including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Pearl, Larry Scott and Franco Columbo, just to name but a few.

Building Biceps
“In general, when you are trying to build up a weak area of the biceps, the best technique you can employ is one-arm dumbbell exercises. Doing an entire set with just one arm at a time allows for maximum concentration and intensity, and ensures that each arm works to its maximum. This keeps a stronger biceps from overshadowing the weaker, which can result in asymmetrical arm development. Also, be sure to twist the wrist during the movement for total biceps contraction. However, I believe one major reasons bodybuilders show weak points in the biceps is that they do the exercises incorrectly. You need to master proper technique–keeping the elbows steady, lowering the weight rather than dropping it, employing as many Shocking Principles as possible–and then you will be much less likely to have problems in this area. For example, I see a lot of bodybuilders using their forearms when they do curls, starting the motion with a kind of Wrist Curl which takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise. Or they will do a curl and, at the top, instead of flexing their biceps, to maintain maximal tension, they will just throw the weight back toward their shoulders, leaving the biceps loose and not working at all. I recommend instead using the peak contraction principle, flexing the biceps as hard as possible when you get to the top of the curl.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

For Overall Mass. Lift Heavy. Takes intense mental focus and concentration. Visualize your biceps growing! Do Barbell Curls and Cheating Reps.

For Length and Thickness. You must full stretch the biceps to the max and concentrate on working the lower one-third of the mass. Try prone curls or incline curls to really focus the biceps to the max.Preacher curls work very well for isolation and thickness development. For even better isolation, try the single arm isolation preacher machine (Ex – Shown with two arms). Try rotating the wrists 180 degrees for your last set.

For Height. Concentration curls work well to build that peak. Use a dumbbell or cable for the movement. The intensity should be placed heavily on the top one-third of the muscle mass. Flex your biceps as hard as possible without causing them to cramp at the top of the movement for peak development.This should really burn and give you a tremendous pump. Dumbbell curls that cause your thumb to point outward by twisting the wrist towards the outside of your body as you lift the weight will build great height also. After completely burning the biceps strike some poses in the mirror emphasizing your peak.

For Mass & Outer Thickness. Any kind of curls that bring the wrists in toward your chest, such as Close-Grip Barbell Curls or Close-Grip Preachers will develop great mass and outer thickness. Concentration curls that are done inward toward the centre of the body will get that outer thickness growing too.

Mass & Inner Thickness. Hammer curls work very well for developing inner thickness. Hammer curls are where you face your palm inward rather than upward as you lift the weight in a semicircular arc. You will notice the difference in stress this places on the biceps. Also, some basic movements work will such as standing barbell curls (wide-grip), seated or standing dumbbell curls, incline dumbbell curls, wide-grip barbell preacher curls.

For Striation, Separation, & Definition. Use as many different biceps exercises as possible. Dumbbell movements are a must because of the great range of motion they provide and the ability you have of hitting every different angle with them. Reverse curls are very good at developing the brachio radialis and biceps so that your back double bicep pose shows lots of definition.

Building Triceps
“If you have a real problem with the triceps, I recommend training them according to the Priority Principle, working them first, when you are fresh. I did this myself years ago when I realized that my biceps had developed out of proportion to my triceps. I began to concentrate on this area, using the Priority Principle, and soon they began to respond so I had an Olympia-quality arm rather than just Olympia-quality biceps. I also found that super setting triceps exercises, going right from one to the other, was another way of getting extra triceps development. I would first do a few sets to pump up the biceps, which creates a “cushioning” effect, and then really blast the triceps. After the superset I would continue to flex and pose the triceps, never giving them any relief.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

For Overall Mass. Use heavy weight on Close-Grip Barbell Bench, Dips behind the back, and Weighted Dips.

For Mass & Upper Triceps. Do dips, one-arm cable press downs, cable press downs (reverse and regular), and kickbacks very slowly and strictly, flexing completely. Hold the concentration briefly at the top of the movement.

For Mass & Lower Triceps. Weighted dips and dips behind the back in which you descend fully, but only go three-quarters of the way up force intense concentration on the lower portion of the triceps because stress is placed on them constantly during the set.

Building Forearms
“Many bodybuilders end up with a weakness in forearm development simply because they don’t train forearms right from the beginning. Another reason for forearms lagging behind, aside from the obvious one of bone structure, is failing to execute the exercises correctly and in a strict enough manner. The more you isolate the forearms and force them to do the movements without any help from the upper arms, the more they will respond. This means being very, very strict in your execution. It is important to work the forearms through a long range of motion. You need to lower the weight as far as possible, getting the maximum stretch, and then come all the way back up to get a total contraction of the muscles. Working through only three-quarters of the range of motion is not that beneficial because you already use this part of the muscle in a variety of other exercises. If you want to drastically increase your forearm development, you can use the Priority Principle in a special way: train forearms by themselves when you are rested and strong, or train your forearms on leg days when your arms are rested. You can also keep a barbell or dumbbells at home and do a couple of sets of Wrist Curls and Reverse Wrist Curls as often as you like, even once an hour every hour.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

Upper Forearms. Hammer curls, reverse wrist curls, one-arm cable reverse curls (Ex – Shown with two arms), and every other kind of reverse curls really hit this area of the forearms not to mention the biceps.

Inner Forearms. Single arm wrist curls, barbell wrist curls, and behind-the-back curls are excellent inner forearm builders.

Finally some tips to bear in mind for super sized arms.

Huge Biceps; Train consistently, never miss workouts. Concentrate hard on each set. Do standing 21’s with a barbell.
Do basic movements to begin with to build mass.
Standing barbell curls
Preacher curls
Seated or Standing dumbbell curls
Do isolation work for maximum peaking.
Reclined curls
Concentration curls
Cable curls
Huge Triceps; always train the smaller triceps complex after the larger muscle groups of the deltoids and pectorals. Use continuous tension throughout triceps isolation movements over the full range of motion. Completely flex the entire triceps by extending the arms fully so that the maximum numbers of muscle cells are recruited throughout the movement.
Huge Forearms; Save your forearms for last when training because they are the smaller weaker group. Train them (seriously and painfully) hard and consistently to build them up.Train heavy.

Train like a monster, eat like a predator, sleep like a baby. Keep growing.

THE SCHWARZENEGGER SECRETS Part 1

Why Was Arnold’s Physique So Far Ahead Of Its Time?

By STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

Arnold was able to get huge back in the day because of the tactics he used while training, learn how he used cheat curls and other techniques to get huge arms.

Reading about the workouts Arnold did back in the ’60s and ’70s is inspiring, but did you know there are loads of hidden secrets in those past routines that most bodybuilders just don’t get? The specific muscle training tactics he used, either by instinct or by design, are the very reasons Arnold was the biggest bodybuilder of his era and why his physique in its prime is still outlandish even by today’s freaky standards. For the most part he was instinctively doing a lot of little things precisely right, and though they may seem small those details paid off big. (Some say he was even splitting muscle fibres, which is entirely possible, but tremendously rare.) For example, he knew how to overload the muscle at the exact spot where maximum force* can occur, the point along the stroke where muscle fibres are perfectly aligned for extreme fibre activation. It’s one of the reasons his arms were spectacularly big, full and peaked, and you should follow his lead to make your arms and other muscles more massive. No other bodybuilder in the history of the sport has made the same impact. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the greatest, and most influential, bodybuilder of all time in the eyes of many.

Cheat Curls
If you’ve read anything about his biceps training, you know that cheat curls were one of his favorite size builders. No, he didn’t invent them, but he sure made them popular. He used to start his biceps program with them, heaving up massive poundage’s.
Arnold made cheat curls popular but a lot of people criticised him, saying he wasn’t training biceps, only his lower back, but his biceps had high peaks that made his arms look unbelievably big. Now, you could contend that those who dismissed his cheat curls as non-productive had a point. After all, Arnold did a lot of other biceps exercises too, so cheat curls may really have been training more of his lower back than his arms but I don’t think so. I’ve an idea those cheat curls may be one of the key reasons his biceps got so incredibly full and peaked. Why?

Max-Force Generation Point
The max-force* generation point I mentioned earlier is the place on an exercise’s stroke at which the target muscle can generate the most force, and more force equals more mass. That point, say many scientists, is the spot where the most muscle fibres are stressed to the max because they are perfectly aligned for action. So if you overload that max-force point correctly, max growth stimulation can occur.

Where is that sweet spot on the curl’s stroke?
Right below the point at which your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, between the bottom and the midpoint. There has to be some stretch in the muscle for ideal fibre alignment and therefore max-force production; in fact the closer you get to full contraction, the less force you can produce because of fibre crowding and bunching. Remember what I said in an earlier post about sarcomeres being similar to six man rowing boats all rowing into and over each other.

Now imagine Arnold doing a cheat curl. He would lean forward, bend his arms slightly and heave the heavy barbell to his shoulders. Almost the entire overload occurred right at the max-force point-between the arms-straight-position and the midpoint. One of Arnold’s favourite bicep exercises was cheat curls. It overloads the biceps right at the max-force point, just below where the elbows are bent at 90 degrees.In fact, there was hardly any resistance on his biceps any place else along the stroke. Interesting. Semi-stretched position overload. Perhaps that’s why Arnold’s biceps were so high and he swore by cheat curls as his biceps mass exercise.

Isn’t cheating dangerous?
Absolutely, more people probably get injured doing cheats than those that go on to develop big biceps from them, but remember “where theres a will, and there is a fcking will, theres a way, and there is a fcking way” (Sexy Beast). Soz, couldn’t help myself.  Instead of doing barbell cheat curls, try cable curls. Maintain strict form throughout the set. Begin by first doing as many strict reps as you can, aim for 10 reps. When you can’t do another full rep, pull the bar up to the max-force spot, right below the midpoint, and do short partials till you can’t stand the burn. Those partial cheat reps will overload the muscle through this short range of motion without risking your lower back, well, within reason anyway.

Why use a cable instead of a barbell?
Because cables produce more uniform resistance, without the heaving at the bottom starting point of the exercise you get with a barbell. Try partial reps at the end of a set of barbell curls and you’ll see what I mean.

Main Muscle Worked: Biceps.   Equipment: Cable.   Mechanics. Type: Isolation.

What about Stretch Position Overload?
The max-force overload “cheats” weren’t all there was to putting the peaks on Arnold’s arms. While cheat curls attacked the semi-stretched point, he also favoured stretch-position overload. For biceps that meant incline curls. By reclining on a 45-degree incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand hanging down on either side of him, at the start of the curl his biceps were in an extreme stretch range. He would fire out piston-like reps, keeping tension on his biceps throughout the stroke and blasting out of the fully stretched position-but without heaving or jerking.

Fibre Splitting
It’s interesting to note that recent studies have linked stretch overload to hyperplasia, or fibre splitting. One animal study triggered a 300 percent increase in one muscle that was subjected to stretch overload in only 30 days. Yes, that’s tripling the size of the muscle, and the researchers suggest that a lot of the massive increase was caused by fibre splitting, as evidenced by muscle biopsies.

Arnold’s Secret Workouts?
Could stretched-position overload along with max-force-point “cheats” be Arnold’s secret weapons for incredible biceps mass? Well it worked for him, but it wasn’t only his biceps that got freaky from stretch overload.

Arnolds Chest Workouts.
Another example of Arnold using stretch overload is his chest workout. One of his favourite pec movements was dumbbell flyes, but he had a certain way of doing them-only moving through the bottom third of the stroke. He lowered to the bottom stretched position, but on the upward stroke he stopped the dumbbells when they were about three feet apart, immediately lowering back to the stretch. Why?

Dumbbell Flyes.
He said the short stroke kept tension on his pecs, which is true and important, but it also placed the most overload on his pecs when they were elongated, or stretched. Those partial flyes were really just rapid-fire cheat reps in a stretch-position pec exercise-and no doubt one of the big reasons Arnold’s pecs were so full and striated.

Calves.
Arnold was a master at getting the most growth activation from every set, and calves are another example. When he moved to the America, his calves were underdeveloped compared to most of his other muscle groups, this was before he met and talked to Reg Park, a former Mr. Universe winner and a man who was a big believer in overload.  Arnold was using a few hundred pounds on his various calf raises, but when he trained with Reg, he was amazed to see his mentor pile 1,000 pounds on the calf machine and keep grinding out movement until he could barely budge the gigantic load. Arnold soaked up that experience and information and immediately began applying it. Soon he was using 1,000 pounds on his calf raises, and two or three guys on his back for donkey calf raises, a better stretch-position calf exercise than standing calf raises. But don’t think for a minute that he stopped a set when he couldn’t get all the way to the very top.

Never Waste A Set.
When he couldn’t do anymore full reps, he would drive the weight up as high as he could, usually just barely above the bottom stretch point, and do partials till the muscle couldn’t even twitch. It burned like crazy, but it worked. Soon his calves were one of his best body parts, in fact they were so good that he was accused of having calf implants. I think he instinctively knew how to train in semi-stretched and stretched positions. If you’re neglecting stretch overload in the gym, it may be one of the biggest reasons you’re not building more muscle faster. Arnold achieved semi-stretched and stretched position overload at almost every workout, and you might want to follow his lead.

I’ve found that overloading a muscle in its semi-stretched point with cheat reps and power partials similar to what Arnold used at the end of his calf raises and other exercises can make each set two to four times more effective at building mass. Cheat reps work so well because after you hit failure, you keep firing the muscle at its max-force-generation point, which according to scientists is the key mass building position.  Arnold also instinctively knew to train every muscle in the fully stretched position for the fullest, most complete development possible. Was he triggering hyperplasia, or fibre splitting? It’s quite possible. Whichever way you look at it, Arnold knew what he was doing and achieved freaky mass, even by today’s standards.

Edited from an article originally featured on Muscle and Fitness http://www.muscleandfitness.com/training/arms

arnie shouldersTHE SPECIFICS OF SHOULDER TRAINING

By Steven Milner

All progressive resistance exercises for the shoulders involve lifting the arm. But although the result is a lifting of the arm, the actual action involved is rotation of the shoulder joint. With few exceptions, all movements are the result of the rotary movements of one or more joints. When you know which joints are involved and what they are doing, you will be able to understand the mechanics of individual exercises and how to do them correctly. The shoulder joint is the most mobile and most vulnerable joint in the body, being able to rotate the arm through a full 360 degrees. The movement of the shoulder is controlled by the deltoids, of which there are three, the front or anterior, side or lateral and rear or posterior deltoids or delts. These muscles, working individually and in combination, have one basic function: they abduct the arm away from the body.

There are two basic types of shoulder exercises; presses, where the arms are lifted using a combination of the shoulder and elbow joint, and raises where the arms are raised up and away from the body in front, behind or sides using only the motion of the shoulder joint itself.
Presses are compound exercises, since they use more than one joint and muscle. You can move more weight with presses because you have a leverage advantage and more muscle is involved, so presses have the edge when it comes to building maximum mass and strength.
Raises, or laterals, are isolation exercises as they involve only the shoulder joint and no other muscles than the deltoids. Laterals are excellent for working and shaping the individual heads of the deltoids and can be done, more or less to the front, side and rear to stress specific areas of the shoulder muscles.

I’ll talk you through some of the different shoulder exercises and offer some suggestions as to how to get the best from them. Of course this article only covers the basics, there are many variations. Remember though, no matter what the movement, focus on what the shoulder joint is doing, feel the muscles working and keep the exercises strict to encourage growth and limit the risk of injury. It takes time and skill to isolate the deltoids as a group and special attention to target individual deltoid heads.

PRESSES
Presses can be done using a barbell, dumbbells or with various types of machines and cables. In all cases, you begin by holding the weight at about shoulder height, palms facing forward, elbows underneath for support. The exercise is performed by lifting straight up overhead, pausing at the top, then lowering the weight back, under control, to the starting position.

Doing presses with a barbell or machine, your hands are locked into place. This tends to somewhat limit the amount of rotation of the shoulder joint compared to pressing with dumbbells. Depending on the equipment involved, you can position your hands further apart or closer together to hit the shoulders from a variety of angles. In general, the closer together your hands are placed the more involvement there is from the triceps; the further apart your hands, the less triceps are involved.

Another way of looking at this is by thinking in terms of the elbow joint. The longer the range of motion of the elbow the more it bends and straightens the more the triceps become part of the exercise. When the elbows are less involved, so are the triceps less involved. As above, so below.

BARBELL PRESSES
Barbell presses can be done to the front, as in the military press or with the bar behind the neck for presses behind the neck, oddly enough.

Military Press: From a standing position, clean the weight (lifting it with a reverse curl movement) or take the bar off a rack holding it with a palms forward grip and hold it across the upper chest. Press the bar upward, locking out the elbows on top, and then lower the weight, under control, back to the starting position, watch your face!

Press Behind the Neck: Position the bar across the back of the neck, holding it palms forward. Press the bar upward, locking out the elbows on top, and then lower the weight under control back to the starting position. This can be performed either seated or standing Don’t rest or drop the weight on your neck it’s just stupid.

DUMBBELL PRESSES
Dumbbell presses can be done standing, seated on a flat bench or on a bench that gives you back support.

Clean the dumbbells, or have a training partner pass them to you, and hold them at shoulder height about level with your ears just outside of your shoulders on each side, palms facing forward. The most common way to do this exercise is to press the weights straight up overhead without locking out the elbows, and then lower the dumbbells under control back to the starting position.

There is a twist on this movement, bear in mind that the action of the shoulders is rotation. Hold a pair of dumbbells level with your ears just outside your shoulders and then press them up in an arc over your head, before the dumbbells come together at the top rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing, then bring them down in a similar arc to the starting position. Using dumbbells rather than a barbell means your hands are not locked into position, and lifting them in an arc, similar to dumbbell flyes for chest, allows for extending the range of motion of the exercise.

Shoulder press bottomshoulder mid pressshoulder press top

MACHINE PRESSES
It doesn’t matter what type of machine you use, the basic action of pressing against resistance overhead recruits the delts and extends the triceps during the range of movement. Concentrating on how much rotation you’re getting from the shoulder joint during the movement and how much the elbow is involved will give you a good idea of exactly what kind of movement the machine is allowing you to do. Remember, in most cases machines don’t allow for building as much mass and strength but often allow you to do a stricter movement and in some cases work through a longer range of motion. One negative aspect of machine presses is that they don’t allow for strengthening all the support tissue around the joint to the degree that is possible with free weights.

LATERALS
Laterals involve lifting the arms up and out to the side with the arms kept more-or-less straight so that there is no involvement als can be performed using dumbbells, cables and various kinds of machines.

side lateral shoulder raisesSide Laterals: Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand hanging down by your side, palms facing inward. Lift your arms out to each side, elboof the elbow joint or the triceps. You can do laterals to the front, side or rear although each of the techniques involved varies with the delt head being targeted. Laterws slightly bent, until the weights are level with the top of your head. Pause at the top, and then lower the weights under control back to the starting position.

You’ll see bodybuilders starting with the weights held together in front of them, using fairly heavy dumbbells and then swinging the weights up to either side so that momentum helps with the lift. This kind of cheating can be useful for advanced bodybuilders, but it can easily get out of hand and diminish rather than increase intensity. So be wary of using this technique.

Front Laterals: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, hanging down at arm’s length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Lift one arm forward and up and bring it toward the middle, palm remaining downward, bringing the weight up toward the middle helps isolate the front deltoid, but opinions vary. Raise the dumbbell so that its directly in front of you and slightly higher than the top of your head, pause for a moment at the top, then lower it under control back to the starting position. Repeat using the other dumbbell. This movement is usually done by alternating arms but can also be done lifting both dumbbells or a bar at the same time.

Rear Laterals: Bend over at the waist with a dumbbell in each hand at arms length below you, palms facing inward. Keeping your body steady, lift the dumbbells out and up to both sides and slightly forward so that the weights end up beside your ears rather than back even with your shoulders. This keeps the focus on the rear delts and away from the side delts. Pronate the weights by rotating your thumbs down slightly. Lift as high as you can, pause at the top, then lower the weights under control back to the starting position.

Cable Laterals: The three basic types of laterals can be done using a cable and handle attached to a low pulley and in some cases two such cables and handles.

Cable Side Lateral Raises: This can be done to the side with the pulley beside you and the lift going straight up or with the cable on the other side with the cable crossing over in front of your body as you do the lift.
Cable Front Laterals Raises: Perform the lateral raises to the front with the pulley located behind you. You can use individual handles for this movement or both hands together holding a short bar.
Cable Rear Lateral Raises: Lean down and grasp a “D” handle with the pulley  on the opposite side of the arm you’re using and pull away and up from the low pulley station, much as you would with dumbbells or you can use two pulleys, one on either side in a crossover fashion doing both arms at once.

UPRIGHT ROWS
Upright rows involve lifting a barbell or handle attached to a low pulley cable up in front of you to hit the front deltoids. Stand holding the bar with an overhand grip arms length down in front of you, hands about shoulder width apart. Lift the bar up leading with your elbows, pass the bar close to your body, pause the bar for a moment at a position just below your chin, then lower the bar under control to the starting position.

MACHINE LATERALS
There are a variety of machines that allow you to do side lateral exercises and a few with which you can target the rear delts. The basic movements have to be the same, no matter the equipment used, if the target muscles are going to be trained. Read the instructions posted on individual machines for more information or ask a gym employee. Have you heard me say that a personal trainer is worth his or her weight in gold and a committed training partner is a diamond? Well they come in really handy when you’re doing shoulders believe you me.