Who doesn’t want bigger, stronger arms? Almost everyone who lifts weights will, at some point, do exercises for their biceps and triceps. Unfortunately, doing the same old curls and push downs won’t produce the results you want. If you are stuck in an arm-building rut, use the following six exercises to breathe life back into your workouts.
Arguably the most famous muscle in your body, if you ask a child to show you a muscle, they’ll probably throw up an arm and do a biceps pose. Make your biceps something to be proud of by adding these unusual exercises to your arm training program.
- Weighted pull-ups
The biggest drawback of most curling exercises is that the amount of weight you can lift is limited by your ability to keep your body upright. Weighted pull-ups eliminate this problem so you are free to focus on curling your chin up to the bar.
Start out by strapping on around ten percent of your body weight, so if you weigh 80 kilos, grab a 7.5-10 kg dumbbell or weight plate. There is no need to be exact; round up or down according to the weights you have available.
Grab the pull-up bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Without kicking with your legs, smoothly curl your chin up to touch the bar. Slowly extend your arms and repeat. Sets of 4-6 are ideal with this exercise.
- Zottman curls
Straight from the golden age of bodybuilding, the Zottman curl combines hammer curls, regular curls, and reverse curls into a single shirtsleeve-splitting, forearm building exercise.
With a dumbbell in each hand, hold your arms straight by your sides, palms turned inward, thumbs forward. Bend your arms and, as they break 90 degrees, rotate your wrists to turn your palms upward. Curl the weight up to your shoulders. At this point, turn your hands palms down, and then lower the weights until your arms are straight. Turn your hands back in to face your thighs and repeat.
- Power curls
Power curls are a sort of underhand power clean that allow you to use more weight than you can normally curl.
Hold a barbell with a shoulder-width, underhand grip. With your knees slightly bent for stability, hinge forward from your hips, and lower the bar down to just above your knees. Drive your hips forward, stand up quickly, and use this momentum to help you curl the weight up to your shoulders. Next, lower the weight slowly and under control until your arms are straight.
This exercise is especially suited to heavy loads and low to moderate reps – 4-8 being ideal.
Even if you’ve got one of the bests muscle vests, you still need to work your triceps every bit as much as your biceps. After all, your triceps make up around two thirds of your total arm mass.
If you are a regular sufferer of elbow strain or pain then then you will need to perform specific tricep exercises that will prevent any over strain of the elbow.
- Weighted dips
Your triceps are made up from three heads, and dips work all of them equally. Strap on some weight for a really effective triceps builder that works your chest and anterior deltoids too. Use the same loading parameters described for weighted pull-ups.
Grab the dipping handles with a shoulder-width grip. If you have your hands much wider than this, you will end up over-emphasising your chest. With your weight supported on your hands, and keeping your torso as upright as possible, bend your arms until your biceps touch your forearms. Push all the way back up to full lock out and repeat.
- Skull crusher pullover presses
While this exercise could do with a snappier name, there is no denying its effectiveness as a triceps builder. Use a straight barbell or an EZ bar as preferred.
Grab your bar and then lie on a slightly declined exercise bench. Your upper arms should be vertical. Bend your elbows and lower the bar (carefully!) to the bridge of your nose or your forehead. Next, pull the bar over your chest. From this position, press it back up and into the starting position. That’s one rep; keep going!
- Rope triceps kickbacks
Dumbbell kickbacks are not a very effective triceps builder. It’s all too easy to swing the weight up, using your biceps more than your triceps. However, that all changes when you use a rope instead of dumbbells.
Attach a long rope handle to a low pulley machine. Grab the ends and take a couple of steps away from the cable machine. Bend your knees slightly, and then hinge forward from your hips so your upper body is roughly parallel to the floor. With your elbows tucked into your ribs, extend your arms down and out toward your hips until they are fully straight. Bend your arms and repeat.
This exercise is an ideal finisher after you’ve completed your heavier mass-building triceps exercises. Use moderate to light weights and medium to high reps so you can really chase that pump!
Whether you are training for increased muscle size, strength, or fitness, these exercises will help you get there faster. Use them to keep your workouts fresh, fun, and productive.