Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let’s examine five of the most common problems with bicep training:

1. More is Not Always Better

If doing 4 sets is better than 3 sets, why don’t you just do 10 sets? Even better, why don’t you just train them all day? Don’t laugh, I know a guy who did this!

It has been said before, but it obviously needs to be said again: “Less is often more.”

Your goal of each weight training workout should be to simply ‘out do’ your last workout. Be it an extra pound or a few extra reps, then it is time to move to the next exercise.

It’s a hard concept for many to grasp because they are fixated on the instant gratification of making their biceps ‘look’ big during the workout and not what they look like when they leave the gym, which leads us to our next problem.

2. Being obsessed with the “Pump”!

Yes, Arnold was right. It’s one of the best feelings in the world and the former Mr. Olympia even goes as far as comparing it to sex. Now that’s a little bit of a stretch in my book but to each his own.

The truth is that the longer you train your biceps, even if the weights are not extremely heavy, you can achieve a fairly decent pump that can turn a few heads while in the gym.

This attention and perception that you are doing something beneficial is deceiving. Yes, there is something to say about keeping blood in the muscle as long as possible, but if the workout is done with weights that do not overload your muscles and emphasize an increase in strength, your biceps will quickly deflate back to normal with no true muscle growth.

3. Not Focusing on Increasing Your Overall Strength

If you look at some of the best upper body physiques (Craig Ballantyne comes to mind) today and their workout plans, they barely train arms. Why?

Because biceps are secondary muscles. A stronger emphasis is put around increasing their chest, back and shoulder strength. If you simply focus on increasing the weights on your rows, pull-ups and chin-ups, rest assured that your biceps will come along for the ride and grow proportionally.

However, if you are always blasting away one-arm dumbbell curls, your biceps will always be fatigued when you train your bigger muscles like your back and chest therefore, you’ve sacrificed a big muscle for the sake of a small muscle. Make sense? This is another reason to take a lower volume approach to arm training.

4. Using the Same Bicep Exercises Every Time

Every bodybuilding magazine will always claim barbell curls and dumbbell curls are two of the simplest and best exercises for building huge biceps. For once, I’ll semi-agree with the so-called experts. These ’simple’ exercises are a safe foundation to build a program around, but let’s not get carried away. Pro bodybuilders using steroids are going to have a strong bodily response to practically any exercise they do.

Therefore, I have no problem using these two exercises under the important condition that you are getting stronger from week-to-week. As long as you are increasing the weights and reps relative to good lifting form, then your arms should continue growing.

5. Not Enough Tension on the Muscle

I think many people of all levels (yes, I’m talking to the advanced athletes as well) do not fully grasp the concept of isolating and actually training a muscle. They do not know how to make the muscle work and fatigue.

Instead, you see a lot of swinging, momentum and sloppy lifting used to move the weight from every part of the body except the one they are actually trying to train.

Fitness author of the No Nonsense Muscle Building Program, Vince DelMonte explains that biceps have a very strong response to “constant tension,” which means you should never give them a chance to breathe.

Keep the bar constantly moving without pausing at the top or bottom. Focus on squeezing the heck out of the bar and never let your biceps relax until the set is over. Your entire goal is to not allow any oxygen into the muscle which creates a spike with your anabolic hormones to promote muscle growth. Resort to a slower tempo (ie. 3 seconds up, 0 pause, and 3 seconds down) to get the job done.

For more ways to improve other aspects of your workouts, I strongly encourage men and women to check out Vince DelMonte’s program No NonSense Muscle Building. The top-selling fast muscle 201 page manual is literally changing lives everyday!


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