Archive for the tag - bicep

EZ Bar Vs. Barbell: Which is Better?

Using the EZ bar for bicep curls makes the exercise easier - but less effective.

Barbell bicep curls are the most effective bicep exercise that you can do. Period. But what’s the difference between doing the curls with a typical straight barbell or the EZ bar?

EZ bars look like curved or bent versions of a typical barbell; they allow the palms to take a less supinated (upward), more natural position when curling. This helps ease the wrist or elbow pain that some lifters experience on a typical barbell. In short, the EZ bar makes curling a bit easier and less painful.

However, it comes at a price. As an experiment, make a fist with your right hand, palm facing upward. Hold your arm as though you were about to do a curl with a 90 angle in your bent elbow. Look at your bicep. It should be flexing. Now slowly rotate your palm inward about 45 degrees – mimicking the grip on an EZ bar. You’ll notice that the bicep flexing decreases, and that some of the contraction moves into your forearm. This is precisely the problem with the EZ bar; it’s not as effective for bicep curls.

If using the typical straight barbell doesn’t result in wrist or elbow pain during your workout, stick with it. The straight barbell will give you a better workout – and better results. But for those individuals experiencing discomfort, the EZ is a great alternative.

The Most Effective Bicep and Chest Exercises.

Dear Davey,

I want to get my chest/pecs to pop out more. Any suggestions on what exercises that may help with that? I work both my chest and biceps vigorously to get them bigger, but nothing seems to work. Can you help me out?

From,
Keith

Dear Keith,

This is actually a really common question – and it’s one that I get a lot.

Interestingly, the two most effective exercises for biceps and chest are barbell bicep curls and the bench press, respectively. While both of these exercises are definitely old school, they are tried, tested, true – and effective.

A barbell bicep curl, pictured to the right, is pretty straightforward. Simply load a barbell with weight plates. Stand in an upright position with an underhand grip. Contract your biceps to pull the barbell up toward your shoulders. Pause, lower and then repeat.

The bench press is also pretty simple – though it’s always a good idea to work with a spotter. Load the bench’s barbell with weight plates. Lie on the bench and hold the bar just beyond shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell off of the rack, and lower until it touches your chest lightly. Then, press the barbell away from the chest until arms are extended. Pause, then repeat.

Since you’re going for size, it’s important to use the right amount of weight. Use enough resistance so that you’re only able to do between 6 and 10 repetitions of each exercise before your muscles are fully fatigued. If you can do more than 10 repetitions, the weight it too light. Moreover, keep pushing yourself to heavier and heavier levels of resistance; your muscles won’t grow unless they are forced to do so.

If you don’t have access to a gym or equipment, push-ups are a great bench press alternative. To make push-ups more challenging, try some of my push-up variations. Or strap on a backpack loaded with extra weight. This will help force your muscles to grow.

The best at-home bicep exercise is a chin-up. You could buy a chin-up bar at a local exercise supply store. Most can be installed quickly in a doorway in your home. Or, you can take your workout outside – and perform chin-ups on playground equipment. To make it harder, you can even make use of ankle weights.

Hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

Got Guns? 7 Best Tips for Bigger Biceps!

Did you get tickets for this gun show?

Building bigger, stronger arms isn’t magic. It just takes a little hard work, time, dedication and know-how. Here are my top 7 tips for bigger biceps.

  1. Keep reps in the 6 – 8 range. If you’re going for size, you want to focus on low reps of heavy weights. If you can do more than 8 repetitions, then the weight is too light.
  2. Don’t cheat. Easier said then done, especially when working with heavier weights. Bicep cheating most often occurs in bad form or by using momentum. Ensure that you’re not throwing your shoulder to lift the weight or arching your back. Pause for a second or two in between movements so to minimize momentum cheating.
  3. Give your arms rest. A hard bicep workout shreds your muscles; the rebuilding of these muscles is what results in size and strength increases. Don’t cut yourself short by over-training your arms and don’t be the person that does the same strength training workout each day. Let your biceps rest for several days in between, and never train a muscle that is still sore from a previous workout.
  4. Utilize the barbell curl. The barbell curl is perhaps the best arm exercise that you can do to build size. As I mentioned, keep the weight heavy – so that you can only do 6 – 8 reps – and perform 4 sets. It’s probably the most effective bicep exercise you could do.
  5. Progressively overload. Let’s say that today you can do 6 reps at 50lbs. Eventually, your body will adjust – and 50 lbs will become easier and easier. As such, you need to constantly overload your muscles. In a few weeks, try 8 reps at 50lbs. And then try 6 reps at 55 lbs. If you do the same weight over and over again, you will stay where you’re at. If you’re looking to build your muscles, keep overloading the weight.
  6. Keep track. We all have busy lives. It’s difficult to keep track of even the most important things like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, let alone what we’re doing in the gym. Keep a journal or notebook handy and jot down the exercise, weight, sets and reps that you perform each day. This will help you keep track of your progress.
  7. Eat your protein! Protein is the building block for muscles – make sure you’re getting enough protein (and the right protein) immediately following your workout.

Practice these 7 tips and you’ll be seeing bigger biceps in no time at all – biceps, in fact, are one of the fastest muscles to grow. For additional bicep exercises, you can download my Total Body Assault program which has an entire 20 minute video dedicated to arms. Enjoy!

The Chin-ups Vs. Pull-ups Showdown!

Chin-ups and pull-ups are great arm exercises – but do you know the difference?

Chin-ups are performed with your palms facing toward you; the grip is reversed for pull-ups. Chin-ups, which primarily work the bicep, are much easier to perform. Pull-ups are a great forearm exercise, and are generally more difficult. Both exercises build muscles aggressively and aid in grip strength – which is advantageous in any sport that involves grappling and pulling (think rock climbing.)

With either exercise, you’ll need to first grip the bar while hanging. Then, pull your chin up above the bar, hold, and then release back to the starting position. Sound easy? It’s not! If you’re just starting out – you may only be able to perform one or two. If chin-ups or pull-ups are too challenging, try using an assisted pull-up machine which can be found in most commercial gyms.

Here are my best tips for effective chin-ups and pull-ups:

  1. Extend fully. When performing either chin-ups or pull-ups, it’s important that you fully extend your arms in between reps. Otherwise, you’re cutting yourself short.
  2. Ensure that your chin is above the bar. Most people have a tendency to release the movement before the chin is lifted fully above the bar. Complete the movement in its entirety to get the best benefit!
  3. Lead with your chest. Keep your shoulders back to avoid injury.
  4. Bend your legs. In order to extend fully, you’ll probably need to bend your legs – otherwise, you’ll likely touch the ground in between sets.

Do you incorporate chin-ups and pull-ups into your workout? If so – let me know in the comments!