Close-Grip Chins

Incline Dumbbell Curls

Rope Triceps Pressdown.

This is also on excellent exercise to target oil three heads of the triceps.

2. Stress form, not weight

Due to impatience (and sometimes ego), the biggest mistake most people make in arm training is to sacrifice proper form for more weight. Because improper technique does not target the muscles properly, this error can slow progress and cause injury. Therefore, always stress proper technique in your arm training—and of course, it's a good idea to ask an exercise instructor to teach you the proper form of any exercise you've never performed before.

Improper technique in any bodybuilding exercise leads to snail's-pace progress and eventually to injury. Paul Chek says many bodybuilders perform arm training in a position of rounded (protracted) shoulders. This problem can be exemplified by putting a bodybuilder in a perfect posture and having him perform Dumbbell Curls with a weight he normally uses for a 10-rep set. By the second rep you'll see that he will go back to the rounded shoulder posture or will fail to raise the dumbbells beyond the 30-degree mark— this is because his strength levels have adapted to poor posture. The result is arm development without associated stabilizer strengthening, a condition that predisposes the shoulder to a repetitive stress injury.

For optimal training of the arm and shoulder complex, you must exercise with good postural alignment. Postural training is an especially complex subject and is certainly beyond the scope of this chapter. In elbow flexor training, the trainee should concentrate on keeping the elbow as close as possible to the ground at all times.

3. Concentrate

One key to proper form is concentration, and enhanced concentration enables you to safely use heavier loads and maximize tension on the working muscles—factors that always lead to bigger gains. Here are some tips that will help you concentrate:

Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extension.

This exercise targets the long head of the triceps.

A Lou Ferrigno, in a movie still from Hercules, shows off one of the biggest arms in the sport.

■ Always begin the set with the end in mind. You should have a clear picture of the goal you want to achieve. If you have problems with goal setting and time management, consult the following excellent books: The Aladdin Factor by Canfield and Hansen, First Things First by Covey, Merrill & Merrill, and Life 101 by Peter McWilliams. Anthony Robbins may be a popular motivation guru, but after all the hoopla you will find that his material suffers from the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" (great satisfaction at first, but after an hour you are pissed off that your hunger was not satisfied).

■ Always know how many reps you are going for. Counting the reps backwards (i.e., 6,5,4,3,2,1) is an effective trick to stay focused on the task to accomplish. When counting reps in the regular fashion, most people get anxious during the set about achieving the desired goal and forget about focusing on the set.

■ Focus on "feeling" the muscle, not just the weight. This is a favorite from heavyweight bodybuilding champion Jusup Wilcosz, an ex-Mr. Universe and training buddy of Schwarzenegger. If you have problems feeling an exercise, slowing down your movements will allow you to perform the task better.

■ Try Gingko Bolba. This herb has been associated with enhanced cognitive function— two to three capsules an hour before the workout will boost your focus levels. Combining it with the acetylcholine precursor DMEA appears to magnify its effectiveness. 4. Perform the most effective exercises first

You should always perform exercises that recruit the maximum amount of muscle fibers early in your arm training workout. For example, exercises that work the long head of the triceps should be performed after exercises that work all three heads.

A practical way to determine which exercises activate the most muscle fibers is by how much weight is used. Triceps Kickbacks, therefore, are obviously not as effective as Triceps Pushdowns or Close-Grip Bench Presses. You may also want to give pre-exhaustion a try, a training principle that was introduced to the bodybuilding world in 1968 by Robert Kennedy (not Arthur Jones) in Iron Man.

With pre-exhaustion, the agonist muscle is first pre-fatigued by a single-joint exercise; that muscle is then further exhausted by a two-joint exercise involving the same muscle group and additional muscle groups. For exam-

pie, you could pre-exhaust the long head of the triceps with the Lying Triceps EZ Bar Extension, and immediately follow it with a two-joint compound exercise that involves all heads of the triceps, such as the Triceps and Shoulder Dip. For the brachialis, you could pre-exhaust by supersetting Standing EZ Bar Reverse Curls with Incline Hammer Dumbbell Curls.

Finally, consider that isolation exercises that recruit few motor units are not as effective as compound exercises for optimal development of muscle mass. For example, Parallel Bar Dips and the Close-Grip Bench Press are more effective than the Dumbbell Triceps Kickback. This is not to say you should never perform these inferior isolation exercises, but they should not be emphasized as much as the compound movements. 5. Work all three heads of the triceps

When we design workouts, we tend to favor certain exercises over others. Because there are three heads to the triceps, it's easy to ignore one. From experience, the long head appears to suffer the most neglect. One reason is that, according to research in the fields of biomechanics and neurophysiology, the triceps respond only to high loads. Two of my favorite exercises for the long head of the triceps are the Overhead Dumbbell Triceps

A The showdown at he 1974 Mr. Olympia between Gentle Giant Lou Ferrigno and the Austrian Oak Arnold Schwarzenegger came down to an ultimate arms race.

Table 2:

The best exercises for targeting specific heads of the triceps

(adapted from Muscle Meets Magnet®)


Long head

Medial head

Lateral Head


Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extension

Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension, with reverse grip

Pushdown with straight bar and narrow grip

Pullover with narrow grip and EZ bar

Standing Barbell French Press

One-Arm Triceps Pushdown, pronated

Narrow-Grip Bench Press

Dumbbell Kick Back

Press Behind Neck

Semi-supinated Standing Dumbbell Press

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

Standing Barbell French Press


Lateral Head

All Three Heads


Pushdown, with straight bar and narrow grip

One-Arm Triceps Pushdown, pronated grip

Overhead, Bent-Forward Rope Extensions

Narrow-Grip Bench Press

Press Behind Neck

Dumbbell Kick Back

Semi-supinated Standing Dumbbell Press

Decline EZ Triceps Extension

Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension, neutral grip

Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension with rotation

Rope Triceps Pressdown

Angled Bar Triceps Pressdown

One-Arm Triceps Pushdown, supinated

Parallel Bar Dips

Bench Dips

Table 3: The best exercises for targeting the brachialis muscle


Standing Reverse Curls with EZ Bar Incline Hammer Curls Scott Bench Reverse Curls


Vary grip from narrow to shoulder width

Pause 2 seconds at 30-90 degrees of elbow flexion

Vary angle of inclination of back rest usually 30-60 degrees

Vary inclination of support pad

Vary working implement (EZ, SZ, Gaspari Bar)

Extension, using a reverse grip, and the Close-Grip Triceps Pressdown with a straight bar.

To work all three heads of the triceps, I find that the Triceps and Shoulder Dip is one of the most effective because you can use heavy-loads. Also, it is a good idea to start your triceps training with an exercise that either targets all three heads or hits directly the long head of the triceps. Of course, if one of the other triceps heads is proportionally weak, you'd want to train that one first.

Table 2 illustrates how to target the specific triceps head you want.

6. Emphasize the brachialis

The brachialis is the muscle shaped like a golf ball (or a grapefruit if you're built like Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates) that lies between the triceps and the biceps. Although it is involved in any exercise that flexes the upper arm, the brachialis often becomes a weak link in arm development. In fact, many bodybuilders have found that adding specific brachialis exercises to their workouts can increase their arm size by as much as one inch in a month!

When the forearm is supinated (palms up), the biceps have an effective line of pull. When the forearm is pronated (palms down), the biceps is rather ineffective at flexing the elbow. This is why you normally handle 28-34 percent less in Reverse Curls than you do in Regular Barbell Curls. When your forearm is pronated, the brachialis is primarily responsible for generating force. As such, the basic exercise for the brachialis is the Reverse Curl, which can be performed with a straight bar, EZ curl bar or dumbbells. Also effective are Hammer Curls.

Pausing for a two-second count at 30-90 degrees after initiating the Reverse Curls will further increase the involvement of the brachialis—but make certain to continue the upward movement in a controlled fashion. If you have to lean back or move the elbows out to complete the concentric range, the resistance is too heavy. In all brachialis exercises, make certain that your wrists stay in a neutral position. Bending them back towards you, or curling with them into a gooseneck position, decreases the recruitment of the brachialis muscle.

Table 3 lists the best exercises to overload the brachialis muscles.

7. Do more work for the long head of the biceps

Primarily due to poor exercise technique, the long head of the biceps is often underdeveloped in bodybuilders. It is most effectively worked when the elbows are aligned with the torso—or are slightly behind it. Two of my favorite exercises for this area include Dumbbell Curls, performed on an incline

The barbell curl is a staple in every routine, as demonstrated here by 1980s Olympia contender, Scott Wilson.

Hand Positions.

(l-r) These are the three basic positions for arm exercises: Pronation, Supination, Neutral.

bench, and Standing Barbell Curls using an Arm Blaster. Table 4 lists other effective exercises for the long head of the biceps.

"Primarily due to poor exercise technique the long head of the biceps is often underdeveloped in bodybuilders."

Table 4: The best exercises for targeting

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