You just can’t beat barbell curls for developing quality biceps mass.
Big biceps are often regarded as a barometer for evaluating a guy’s overall condition among non-athletes and athletes alike. Even in extreme settings such as bodybuilding competitions, the biceps are evaluated by the judges in virtually every pose.
Arms come in various sizes and shapes, and each has its unique quality. The shape of the arm and the degree of its peak will be determined to a large extent by how long the muscle belly is relative to the length of the tendon, and how many fibers are packed into the muscle. With the amount of attention we normally give this comparatively “little” muscle (little relative to muscles like quadriceps), everyone should have a great upper arm. The truth, of course, is that great biceps owners have inherited much of their structure and then worked hard to maximize their genetic gifts. But what about the average citizen of this world who was not born with a noteworthy upper arm? Well, there is hope, but the road will not necessarily be easy.
One of the best places to begin developing bigger, thicker biceps is to go back to the basics of training. Even with chromed and specialized machines galore, the barbell curl is still among the best exercises that will fully activate, and add size and density to, your upper arms. The bottom line is that you just can’t beat barbell curls for developing quality biceps mass.
Arm mass is created by developing both biceps and brachialis muscles. The biceps brachii muscle (biceps for short) has two (“bi”) heads (“ceps”). The short head of the biceps brachii attaches to the anterior part of the scapula (shoulder blade) near the shoulder and it runs down the medial (inner) part of the humerus bone of the arm. It joins the long head of the biceps brachii to form the thick bicipital tendon. This tendon crosses the anterior side of the elbow and attaches to the radius bone near the elbow. The long head of the biceps begins on the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, which is a bony projection that sits on the scapula just above the shoulder joint.
The long head of the biceps has a very long tendon that crosses the shoulder joint and therefore, it is affected by shoulder position. For example, the long head is mechanically advantaged when it is stretched, such as when doing a curl with the arms held slightly back, but it is de-emphasized with the arms brought forward during the same exercise. The long head of the biceps sits on the lateral part of the arm and along with the short head, it attaches to the radius bone by way of the bicipital tendon. Because the muscle belly of the long head of the biceps is actually rather short (it has a long tendon), thickening this head will improve your arm’s muscle peak more rapidly than thickening the longer-bellied short head of the biceps. The enhanced peak from the long head of the biceps will be most evident (especially at first) when the flexed arm is viewed from a lateral side.
Both heads of the biceps muscle are strong flexors of the forearm. However, because the biciptial tendon is attached to the radius bone, (the most lateral forearm bone), the biceps is also a very strong supinator of the hand (turns the palm toward the ceiling) if the hand begins in a pronated position. This is because when the hand is pronated, the radius sits on top of the ulna. When the biceps muscle contracts, it pulls on the radius, too. It moves back into a position where the radius lies beside, and not on top of, the ulna. This moves the hand from a pronated to a supinated position.
The brachialis muscle lies deep to the biceps brachii. Unlike the biceps, the brachialis takes its origins directly from the humerus bone. It begins on the distal half of the humerus and it inserts on the coronoid process of the ulna. The attachments of the brachialis do not allow supination, but it is a very strong elbow (forearm) flexor. In fact, some researchers attribute 60 to 70 percent of forearm flexion to the strength of the brachialis muscle. Thickening the brachialis is critical to adding overall arm flexor mass. However, just about any exercise is effective at activating this muscle, because it is recruited effectively no matter what the hand or elbow position is in flexion exercises (i.e., curls).
1. Pick up a barbell with a shoulder-width grip. Your hands should be in a supinated position (palms facing upward).
2. Stand in front of a mirror to keep your form perfect. Keep the upper arms (humerus bones) perpendicular to the floor and close to your side.
3. Flex your forearms so your hands move up to your shoulders. Try to feel the biceps and brachialis explode as the weight is moved upward.
4. Slowly extend the elbow joint and lower the weight back toward your thighs. Keep your upper arms close to the side of your body as the weight is being lowered. Try to make this a controlled descent that takes three to four seconds.
5. Place the weight on the floor or a weight rack when your set is done, rest about 90 seconds, then start your weight upward for your next set.
The tension in the biceps is reduced somewhat at the top position of the barbell curl, when the elbow is fully flexed. One way to increase the muscle activation at this position is to tense the biceps and brachialis voluntarily. Simply squeeze the arm flexors hard for a count of two or three at the top before controlling the descent of the weight. This voluntary effort will provide a superior overload in the fully flexed position, but it will also result in a very intensive and fatiguing exercise. Therefore, add these squeeze repetitions to the sets slowly. Another acceptable way to overload your biceps to push through a few more repetitions at the end of each set is to add some “cheat” curls. When you can no longer get the bar up due to fatigue, you can use hip momentum to mildly swing or “cheat” the weight upward. However, if you do a cheat curl to get the weight up, lower the weight twice as slowly as you would normally. This will take advantage of the eccentric effort and force the muscles to grow thicker and stronger more rapidly than if you did not use the slow eccentric efforts at the end of these sets.
Your brachialis muscle will be actively recruited regardless of your hand position on the bar. However, the emphasis areas of the biceps brachii can be affected by changing your hand position. For example, if you use a grip that is wider than shoulder width (with arms back and elbows at your sides), the angle of pull emphasizes the long head of the biceps brachii. A close grip (i.e., hands four inches apart or closer) places a greater emphasis on the short head of the biceps brachii. Usually, you will be able to use more weight with the wider handgrip.
You might try imagining that your biceps are as big as mountains as you are doing each curl upward. Research shows there is something to this mind-muscle link and imagining your goals can help improve your strength, so why not muscle size also?
You will find that basic barbell curls will be a rewarding exercise, as your arms get fuller, thicker and denser. If you are also “squeezing” your arms at the top of each repetition, you’ll find that your ability to control and contract the biceps will be greatly improved.
Adding mass to your upper arms is not easy to do. It’s a slow and sometimes painful process. Nevertheless, no matter where your arms are at this point in time, your arm mass and thickness can be improved, and the best way for this to occur is by returning to the basics of arm training with barbell curls.
Basmajian, J.Vand C.J. DeLuca. Muscles Alive, 5th Ed. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1985, pp. 285-286.
Guevel, A., J. Y. Hogrel, and J. F. Marini. Fatigue of elbow flexors during repeated flexion-extension cycles: effect of movement strategy. Int J Sports Med, 21: 492-498, 2000.
Kulig, K., C. M. Powers, F. G. Shellock, and M. Terk. The effects of eccentric velocity on activation of elbow flexors: evaluation by magnetic resonance imaging. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 33: 196-200, 2001.
Nosaka, K. and K. Sakamoto. Effect of elbow joint angle on the magnitude of muscle damage to the elbow flexors. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 33: 22-29, 2001.
Pearce AJ, Sacco P, Byrnes ML, Thickbroom GW and Mastaglia FL. The effects of eccentric exercise on neuromuscular function of the biceps brachii. J Sci Med Sport, 1: 236-244, 1998.
Rasch, P.J. Kinesiology and Applied Anatomy, Seventh edition. Philadelphia, London. Lea & Febiger, 136-150, 1989.
Ranganathan VK, Siemionow V, Liu JZ, Sahgal V and Yue GH. From mental power to muscle power – gaining strength by using the mind. Neuropsychologia, 42: 944-956, 2004.
Seghers J and Spaepen A. Muscle fatigue of the elbow flexor muscles during two intermittent exercise protocols with equal mean muscle loading. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon), 19: 24-30, 2004.
The post Want Bigger Arms? appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Want Bigger Arms?
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/want-bigger-arms/
Published Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 05:00:44 +0000
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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.
Active Muscles in Leg Extensions
The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1
Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.
The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.
The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.
The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.
1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.
2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.
3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).
4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.
5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.
6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.
7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.
8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.
The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6
Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.
This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.
1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.
2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.
3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.
4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.
5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.
6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.
7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.
8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.
9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.
The post Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/ripped-leg-blast-for-carved-thighs/
Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000
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The post PRIMAL Preworkout appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/nutrition/supplements/preworkout/primal-preworkout/
Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000
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