We have been getting flooded with so much good and exciting news lately that I have been paralyzed but what to share and when…SO, you may hear a bit more from me soon. I will be updating the blog nearly daily and sending updates weekly via email.
Anyway, onto today’s topic. I am generally NOT a fan of general health and fitness media whatsoever. In fact I have grown to despise it over the years. It’s typically a bunch of sell out B.S. Magazines and websites are filled with all kinds of confusing crap that only makes people more lost when trying to achieve optimal health and fitness. A saying I like is, ‘methods are many, principles are few, methods may change, but principals never do.’
This is VERY true in the fitness world. Many basic thing will go along way for you when appropriately applied however with our ADD laden society of fitness ‘experts’ and trading in good old hard work, for something ‘shinny and new,’ to distract ones mind from what is really needed, consistent HARD WORK. When the going gets tough, do you let yourself get easily distracted to avoid the pain and discipline of hard work?
So what we get is publication after publication with some new silly exercise move, gadget, or methodology that is about as the price of tea in China.
However, I can’t help it. I love to read and continue to learn so I pick up about anything I can that relates to fitness with the hopes I won’t be disappointed and actually find something new and worthwhile. Likewise, I like to know what kind of new crap is being fed to my poor clients minds. And I can defend them from this borage of B.S.!
Alas! I picked up the October issue of Muscle and Fitness and was refreshingly surprised by their “General 25 Best Advances,” that have evolved over the years. They highlight 25 tips and strategies that time in the field and research have validated. NO arm chair expert crap here!
However, as you know The Lab Gym is the FINAL word on all things health and performance related, and we are going to review this article for you. Each of these 25 tips, day by day, and give you OUR final word on these 25 advances. I will be doing my best to update this daily on our blog but I will NOT be spamming you up daily in your email so if you want to stay tuned in, go here for updates: blog
So here we go!
Enjoy this Majuscule!
Advance #1 According to Muscle and Fitness:
Best Exercise For Big Biceps…
First of all, I PROMISE you this will be the longest and perhaps ONLY bicep specific article I will ever write. While we all love nice arms they are such a small piece of the puzzle and they have been WAY over thought…anyway…
“Barbell Curl: While variety is key to developing well balanced-arms we suggest you stick mainly with straight barbell curls and use the ez-bar once in a while for a change. The Weider research Group recently compared the two versions using a group of trained bodybuilders and found that the straight bar allowed subjects to lift more weight for 10 rep sets than the EZ-bar. More weight used means greater muscle fiber stimulation and growth potential.”
Bruce Lee: At an average body weight from 125-145lbs Bruce was said to be able to hold out 125lbs in the air at arms length from his body. That is incredible. Especially when you consider that is over his body weight. BUT, where are all the HUGE muscles??? Bruce did not train for muscular girth but neurological efficiency for amazingly powerful punches. SO, think about this as you read this article and how this applies…He was using more weight then most humans I have ever seen successfully curl, yet, his arms are a bit modest, hmmm…
The Labs’s Final Word: Agree, tongue in cheek. While the barbell curl does exactly as stated (when compared to MOST other bicep exercises: various dumbbell, cable, exercises, etc…there are hundreds). In general I agree the best exercises are those that are simple to the point and allow for the heaviest weight (for more than 1 reason, NOT to make you the worlds strongest barbell curler). Opposed to Sci-Fi gimmicky stand on one leg/apparatus of the month nonsense. Most people’s problem is they are more interested in what is unique or the best secret move vs. what matters most, simple, consistent, hard work. With this in mind I agree whole-heartedly with the authors. But there are some problems…
The misleading point is the last sentence, “More weight used means greater muscle fiber stimulation and growth potential.” If this means you are doing something that looks like a supinated/curl grip clean that you are claiming is a heavy barbell curl you will end up with little bicep fiber stimulation and little growth (But sure, at times yes we like to overload things such as the negative/eccentric portion of the rep and doing so in order to perform a strict negative can help, as long as this is not how you always do barbell curls). Don’t sacrifice quality form for heavier weight and wind up recruiting every other muscle under the sun except for biceps. If you are getting better back gains then biceps this is you. Strict form + heaviest weight possible = tickets to the gun show. One quick way to nip this problem is by leaning against a wall to ensure you are not heaving the weight up, second take a brief second at the bottom of each rep to take a new breath of air and remove all potential momentum from the rep.
The next thing to consider is that if you ONLY consider load (total factor of: weight x reps) as the factor stimulating muscle growth (which normally this is VERY effective, but NOT comprehensive) you may run into some problems. Namely, you only use one exercise as in the barbell curl. This can lead to some arm imbalances and eventual medial epicondyle pain (inner elbow). Changing your grip as with the ez-curl bar can relieve this, using a fat bar/fat gripz, or even reversing your grip on the barbell. You can also change tools using dumbbells and supinating the hands, using the hammer curl grip, etc, etc, etc. This will prevent overuse; engage other muscles of the arm and balance out all the flexor muscles around the elbow. This will likewise bring up weaker smaller areas of the arm such as the brachialis that runs right under the bicep. Arms are not simply biceps and triceps and adding this variety is a must.
Curls for the GIRLS! This is actually a great example of the short range of motion-in pic 1 notice incomplete elbow extension as the bar hits the waste and in pic 2 incomplete flexion as gravity zeros out and the angle of the body/elbow limits the movement. Something to consider…
Finally, the range of motion used with the barbell curl is limited by gravity and your waste line. While standing upright with the barbell curl you cannot completely contract the biceps muscle at the top of the range of motion due to your upright stance in space. Likewise the bar runs into your waste at the bottom of the range not allowing for complete extension of the elbow and subsequent range of motion for the biceps. Muscles are NOT the same strength from start to finish on any given range of motion on any exercise. The problem here is that we will only be training a portion of the biceps, and namely the strongest parts, while neglecting the weaker. Doesn’t make mush sense to run with your strengths and neglect your weaknesses now does it? And if we let ego take over, we load up the weight and start cheating WAY to much with the movement, and activate less and less biceps tissue. So while higher loads will generally stimulate more muscle fiber so will ranges of motion which challenge the joint from larger and different angles allowing for full stretch and flex of the muscles around the joint. Likewise, altering tempo, grips, bar thickness, can all lead to increased neurological recrtuiment which leads to even more fiber recrtuiment. In general why increasingly heavier loads are vital and altering rep ranges. 3 sets of 10 will only work for so long…
Actually a good alternative: Preacher bench isolates the bicep, long bar forces neurological recruitment, more activation all around…
Other solutions than just upping the workload:
Many studies have shown that seated versions of curls can prevent the urge and ability to cheat with momentum for the rest of the body allowing for greater bicep activation. Don’t be surprised when the dumbbells used are MUCH lighter than you are use to. This is a good sign! You are finally using your biceps! Likewise, the incline angle of this version will allow for the complete elbow extension at the bottom range and greater stretch and range of motion on the biceps muscle will occur allowing for more muscle recruitment.
Spiderman knows seated incline curls make his elbow flexors pop in his spidey suit.
Final thoughts: Although it is ABSOLUTELY correct that higher loads will stimulate the best muscle gains (when correct rep ranges are used) it is washed out when form is sacrificed and substitutions are made. If you REALLY can’t get your self to work strict on the barbell curl then it is NOT the best bicep builder for YOU. And you best bet is to sit your but down or stand against a wall with your shoulder to prevent the rocking/swinging. Likewise, you may use barbell curls FIRST in your workout for some heavy work and finish with nice seated isolation moves for the best of both worlds. Then, when form is dialed in push the load.
P.S.: Since we are talking arms remember the triceps make up 2/3 of the arms and you are better spending more time on them anyway…triceps coming soon!
Of course there is always cosmetic surgery! His arms and her breasts ARE filled with the same thing! Both bulky, fake, and ummmm, worthless;)