LifeStyle Section


Peaking the Biceps

SuperFitness Written by C. W. Mann

The biceps is a complicated muscle to exercise properly because there are two heads, and two joints involved. The motions that work the biceps include both the rotating motions that turn the wrists, and the thrusting motion that raises the lower arm at the elbow. Many popular exercises are available to get some meat on your arms, but here are four good ones that have stood the test of time.

1. Standing Dumbbell Curl - This exercise gives an intense biceps workout with less stress for the Brachialis and forearm muscles. Start by standing erect with your feet about eighteen inches apart. Hold the dumbbells palms-in with arms resting at sides. Keeping arms close to sides, begin the motion by lifting lower arms while rotating the wrists to a palms-up position. The palms should be parallel to the ground by the time they pass the upper thighs.

The curl should continue until the dumbbells' handles are even with the middle deltoid muscles. At the top of the movement, pause for five seconds to focus on a full central biceps contraction. Slowly lower the weights until your wrists pass the upper thighs. Gradually, twist the wrists to bring the palms in as you approach the starting position.

2. Barbell Preacher Curl - This exercise is a lower and outer biceps mass builder. Take a position at the preacher bench. Your hands should be about sixteen to eighteen inches apart on the bar, or four to six inches wider than the shoulders. The preacher stand should be against your upper pectoral muscles.

Lift the weight at full arms' length. Raise the bar in an arc slowly upward until it touches your upper biceps. Resist the tendency for the elbows to spread and the upper biceps to move outward. Allow the weight to follow the reverse path back to the starting position.

This exercise can be varied by using a Scott Bench or stand. The grip can be varied to change the focus of the biceps' activity. Two dumbbells can be used instead of a barbell, and you can use an alternating motion to better focus your contractions. To focus the activity more on the outer biceps, try using an Easy-Curl-Bar instead of a regular barbell.

3. One-Arm Pulley Curl - This curl hits biceps with some stress for the Brachialis and forearm muscles. Position yourself at a low pulley with the handle in your left hand palm-in. Step back to create tension on the biceps. Your right foot should be six to twelve inches farther away from the machine than your left foot.

Start with an upward thrust that comes from the biceps and not the wrist or upper body. The wrist should turn palm-up at the thigh. Continue the deliberate motion until the forearm makes firm contact with the biceps. Pause and contract the biceps. Slowly return by the same arc.

Fight the tendency for the elbows to pull away from the body. Keep the motion slow in both directions with the arms staying close to the body. Repeat the process with the right arm. The exercise can also be done as a two-arm exercise if you have a v-shaped handle bar to use on the cable system.

4. Incline Dumbbell Curl - The special angle of attack for this exercise insures you will build both mass and biceps peaks. Take a comfortable position on an incline bench with the dumbbells hanging at your sides. It is the partial stretch of this initial position that makes this a great biceps' exercise. If the bench has an adjustable incline you can use this feature to modify the focal point of the work on the biceps.

Begin with the arms at your side, and your palms facing inward. Keep the arms close to the sides as you rotate past your thighs. Now twist your wrists into the palms-up position. Continue the curl until the weights have reached the shoulder level. Focus on letting only the biceps do the lifting work.

Other worthwhile biceps exercises include Barbell Curl, Lying Cable Curls, Alternate Seated Dumbbell Curls, Easy-Bar Spider Curls, Standing Cable Curls, Kneeling Hammer Curls, Barbell Concentric Curls, and Standing Zottman Curls. A heavy advanced routine would include several of these in addition to those detailed above. Intermediate or beginner routines can easily be fashioned from just these four important exercises. Contributed by C. W. Mann, who also writes the syndicated column, SuperFitness.

Front Page

Copyright (C) 1994 - 1997 by Virtual Press/Global Internet Solutions. Internet Daily News and its respective columns are trademarks of Virtual Press /Global Internet Solutions.

Daily News and its respective columns are trademarks of Virtual Press /Global Internet Solutions.