This is an excerpt from Fundamental Weight Training by David Sandler.
Take It To The Gym
Building Better Biceps
A trick for standing exercises is to bend your legs slightly, taking pressure off your lower back, and stagger your feet to create more balance. As the weight gets farther from your body during the movement, you will need more force to overcome its relative weight. You need good balance and control.
One of the biggest mistakes lifters make is to start the movement by launching the bar or dumbbell with momentum. Creating momentum at the waist causes the lifter to lean back, moving the tension from the biceps to other muscle groups. Lifters often cheat at biceps exercises when it gets most difficult, usually at the 90-degree angle. However, working through that sticking point will truly enhance overall improvement in the biceps. The desire to cheat by launching the weight with momentum is natural, but the best results will come if you force yourself to work harder when it gets harder.
Developing the biceps takes time and patience. Don’t give up on them. Any pulling exercise will work these muscles. If you are having a difficult time developing these muscles, try isolating your arm muscles by inserting an arm-only day into your training program once a week. No single exercise can effectively target a specific area of the biceps, so your keys to success are performing a variety of exercises and using a full range of motion.
Another good tip is to get a spotter to assist you. Don’t be afraid to get some help. Instead of using momentum and cheating through the tough areas, get a buddy to help you a little, and force your body to remain upright during the lift. To really work your biceps, try 10 reps with a heavy weight, forcing the last few reps.
Tips to Tone Triceps
Proper execution is the key to success. During triceps exercises, the less you move your elbow back and forth, the more you emphasize the triceps. Maintaining proper posture is a must. To keep proper posture, contract your abs and keep your chest up. Many lifters note that the abs feel as if they work during triceps exercises. This is a good thing because it means that proper body posture is being used.
To get a true horseshoe-like appearance in your triceps, use the entire range of motion. That means using a smaller dumbbell and lighter weights. When you extend your arms, use a gentle lock at your elbows; do not snap them into a full lockout. Use a thumb-lock grip. A loose grip will prevent overexertion, but you need to be able to hold onto the barbell or dumbbell. The most important tip, however, is to make sure that the plates are secured to the barbell or dumbbell. You will quickly learn why supine triceps extensions are called nose breakers if a plate falls off while you are performing one.
Although injuries are rare, olecranon bursitis (swelling in the elbow) may occur if you overdo it. If your elbow is sore, do not do triceps exercises. If you feel a slight pain during a particular exercise, try a different hand grip. It is not uncommon to find that some exercises bother the elbow but others don’t.
Get a Grip!
Do not neglect grip work in your training, especially if you play tennis, golf, baseball, softball, or any other sport that requires you to hold a hitting implement. The heavier the weight you use and the slower you perform the movement, the greater the training effect will be.
Using dumbbells with spinning plates allows the weight to move properly, but if you don’t have dumbbells with spinning plates, don’t worry. For the most part, if the dumbbell plates are secure, then wrist curls are safe. It is difficult to do any major damage unless you really overwork your wrists. The first few times you do these exercises, you may get sore, but in time the soreness will go away and your grip strength will improve dramatically.
Train At Home
Home-Based Pipe Training
For those of you looking to get in shape, you have several options for working out your arms at home. If you are looking for a quick pump, you can get that swollen look without the gym. If you take a good look around, you’ll discover a variety of home training tools, and when you understand the way a muscle is worked, you can find a method to stress them enough to create a challenge.
Using the straight bar curl position, you can curl resistance tubing to work your biceps. The best way to make use of the tubing is to grab the handles on either side and stand on the middle. For your triceps, pull the tubing up to your shoulders, extend your elbows overhead, and perform arm extensions overhead (triceps extensions). Don’t forget about your own body weight. Doing push-ups with your hands together will get a good triceps burn. There are also plenty of heavy objects in your house that you can curl. Grab either end of a rolled towel with someone else or an object hanging from the middle. Pull upward on the towel handles, creating a curl-like movement for the biceps.
Training your forearms at home is also an easy task. If you have made your own wrist roller you are set, but another option is to grab nearly any object in your house that is heavy enough to make your forearms work. Popular items include soup cans, heavy pots, heavy books, and even your kids. While holding the object, squeeze tightly and curl your wrists upward, then reverse the position and extend your wrists backward.
Give It A Go
Show Off Your Guns
Your arms will get worked every time you pull, push, and grip anything. Whether hitting a hard bench press, carrying a child, or doing work around the house or yard, the arms are contributing to the strength required for those tasks. So why isolate them? For some, the thought of having chiseled arms just feels good. Certainly, the biceps and triceps can be separated, and you can work one over the other if you think you need that little extra, but training your entire arm means you will get that perfect shape, nice lines, and the strength you need to carry out your everyday tasks. If you hit them hard, your pistols will grow and ultimately become full-fledged guns. But even if that is not your goal, each of these mini workouts make a good training session to build that much-needed strength. Be careful, though; working your guns hard may result in a super pump, and it may take hours before your arms become usable again, but this is also a good time to show them off. These routines are designed to be quick, efficient, and straight to the point. Choose one routine, complete each set before moving to the next exercise, and your arms should get everything they need.
This is an excerpt from Fundamental Weight Training.