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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.

Muscles Involved

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).

Barbell 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.

Training Tips

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.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Want Bigger Arms?
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Published Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 05:00:44 +0000

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Mens Health

Failures in Business: The Unseen Stepping Stones to Success

Equally significant is the need for businesses to remain vigilant about broader shifts in both domestic and global markets. Macro factors, whether they’re economic trends, geopolitical events, or emerging global challenges, can have profound ripple effects, impacting even the most niche industries. By staying abreast of these larger market dynamics, businesses can better anticipate risks, adapt to challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. In an ever-globalizing world, the ability to navigate both the nuances of one’s immediate market and the broader global shifts is what separates thriving enterprises from those that falter.

TACTICAL Takeaway: Stay sharp and monitor your industry’s trends. When things shift, being ahead in understanding consumer habits offers you the flexibility to adjust and succeed. Things can change rapidly and the sooner you have insight into consumer behavior changes, the more opportunities you have to pivot.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The sports nutrition industry is an interesting, fast-paced vertical where what’s old can quickly become new again but also what worked yesterday likely won’t work tomorrow.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s spot-on. Take creatine as an example. It hit the shelves in the early 1990s and quickly became a hit. Yet, a decade later, its demand had waned. Jump another decade to today, and it’s back more popular than ever.

TACTICAL Takeaway: The key for businesses is knowing when to go all-in on a product and when to ease off, as it’s the ever-changing consumer market that truly drives demand.

Never Rest On Your Laurels

Just because something “has always worked” doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work (or continue to work as efficiently).

In the dynamic world of business, the saying “never rest on your laurels” holds more truth than ever. What propelled a company to success yesterday might not necessarily be the formula for its tomorrow’s success. Market demands, technological innovations, and consumer preferences are in a perpetual state of evolution. While a particular strategy or product might have been a game-changer at one point, there’s no guarantee that it will remain relevant or effective in the future. This inherent unpredictability underscores the need for adaptability and forward-thinking in any business endeavor.

This reality pushes companies to be proactive, always forecasting and adjusting to the next potential shift. Relying solely on past successes can lull businesses into complacency, risking obsolescence in the face of changing tides.

TACTICAL Takeaway: To remain competitive and relevant, businesses need to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and agility. In essence, the past can inform and guide, but it’s the vision and readiness for the future that will determine enduring success.

Embracing The Journey

To any entrepreneur reading this: the road to success is rarely a straight one. At times, it may seem like every decision leads to a dead end. But remember, every misstep is an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot.

The trials you face in business are not meant to discourage you. Instead, they are meant to shape you, refine your vision, and improve your strategy. As the age-old adage goes, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the challenges that will arm you with the experience and resilience necessary for long-term success.

So, the next time you face a setback, remember that your next big success could be just around the corner. Embrace failure as a part of the process, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. With so much time spent working and navigating challenges, it’s essential to find joy and have fun along the way.


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Negativity Is a Losing Mindset

By Marc Lobliner


‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’

I coach my son’s U11 football team. I am just the line coach, but the dudes who coach with me are also in the same mindset as I am.

Positivity wins.

Let’s start off with last weekend’s game.

It’s 0-0, the opening kickoff is a short one and we fall on it.

You can hear our coaches getting our kids fired up and getting the offense ready for play. POSITIVE statements. A lot of “Let’s Go!” and energy.

On the other sideline, you hear the coaches angrily yelling at their players for the execution of the kick.

First play from scrimmage, our line makes every block and opens the outside for our running back to score.

You hear their coaches furiously yelling as we celebrate.

We celebrated and our fullback punched in the extra point.

After the kickoff, our defense held them to four and out. We got the ball again, touchdown. Extra point good.

14-0 in two offensive plays.s

Their coaches were still mad. Angry. Yelling.

We smiled, encouraged our kids, and ended up with a 42-0 mercy-rule win.

Our players are awesome, but not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest.

It’s all about culture and what you’re playing for.

We demand a lot of our athletes. Learn your plays, DO YOUR JOB, and we will win.

Every Tuesday after we win, I buy my linemen doughnuts and give them to everyone, telling them that a random lineman (changes weekly) said everyone deserves doughnuts. We don’t punish every mistake with extra running and up-downs. We focus on what we do RIGHT, and not what we do wrong.

The other game one of my linemen got called for a hold. He came off the field expecting to be scolded. I put my arm around him and said, “What happened?” He explained it and then I said, “You’re better than that guy, you don’t need to hold. Show the world how dominant you are!” He didn’t get one call the rest of the game and crushed it.

This is also my management style at work. Managers are usually garbage. You can do 1,000 things right and you mess up once and your manager attacks you.

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Employees typically respond better to positivity, and numerous studies have found that positive reinforcement and a positive work environment can significantly improve employee motivation, performance, and well-being. Here are some reasons why, supported by various studies:

Increased Productivity: According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. The research shows that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.

Better Decision-Making Abilities: Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center found that individuals who were induced to feel positive emotions were better at problem-solving and making decisions than those in a neutral state.

Boosts Creativity: Positive emotions widen attention and allow people to think more broadly and openly. This is discussed in the “broaden-and-build theory” by Barbara Fredrickson, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoires.

Enhanced Team Collaboration: A study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that teams that communicate effectively, with members actively reaching out and connecting with all other team members, were more successful. Positive interactions contribute to this dynamic.

Reduced Employee Turnover: According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a positive work environment and culture encourages employees to stay longer in their jobs, thus reducing turnover rates. This is KEY at where our staff has mostly been there for 5+ years!

Better Health & Well-being: A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that positive work environments and low job stress are linked to better health outcomes for employees, which in turn can lead to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Increased Engagement: According to Gallup, workers who are engaged and have high well-being are more likely to be attached to their organizations and are more productive.

Enhanced Learning & Flexibility: Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can facilitate adaptive thinking and flexibility in cognitive processing. This helps employees adapt to new situations and learn more effectively.

Higher Levels of Satisfaction: A study by BrightHR found that happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs than those who report low levels of happiness.

Creates a Positive Feedback Loop: A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that experiencing positive emotions leads to higher levels of resilience, which in turn leads to increased positive emotions. This positive feedback loop has a myriad of beneficial effects in the workplace.

How about parenting?

Same thing. PRAISE YOUR CHILD! Make sure they know you love them. While bad behavior should be addressed, be sure to also reward good behavior. Kid had a good day at school? Get him ice cream! Tell him you love him. Say you’re proud of him.

As my mother said, “You catch more flies with honey than with crap.”

And one can’t deny the lifelong impact of a good coach. As the sign in the office says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Be positive and be a winner!

556494785 img 1682 2

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Instagram @marclobliner

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Panatta Super Rowing Page 1

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