DECLINE DUMBBELL TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
MRI studies show this to be the most effective exercise for recruiting all three heads of the triceps. Position your body in a supine position on a decline bench, hooking your feet under the padded rollers. Lift the dumbbells overhead in bench-press fashion. Your grip should be semi-supinated so your palms are facing each other.
Begin by keeping elbows pointed directly upward. Lower the dumbbells until your forearms make contact with your biceps. At this point, the dumbbell plates will probably be in contact with your shoulders. Lift the dumbbells back up to the starting position by extending your elbows, keeping their position in space fixed. Elbows should be the only active joints during this exercise.
Your starting weight will be somewhere between what you can lift on close-dip bench presses and on lying triceps extensions. Grasp the bar with a 14-inch grip. From a supine position on a flat bench, lift the barbell off the rack and hold it at arm’s length. Lower the barbell to your upper chest by bringing your elbows down and forward as you lower the bar.
In the bottom position, your forearms should be in contact with your biceps and the bar should be in contact with your upper chest. Now, reverse the movement, pushing the bar upward from your chest. Extend your elbows to just short of lockout to maintain tension on your triceps.
Use parallel or V-shaped dipping bars, preferably the latter. Use as narrow a grip as possible without compromising shoulder integrity. Grasp the bars and boost yourself until you’re stabilized over them at arm’s length. Lower yourself until your biceps make contact with your forearms. At the bottom, press back up by extending your elbows. Elbows should go only to 98 percent of full extension. Stay as upright as possible throughout the range of motion. If you can’t lower yourself under control until your biceps make contact with your forearms, perform decline close-grip bench presses until you have sufficient arm strength. At first, your body weight will probably suffice as the means of resistance. As you get stronger, progressively increase resistance by holding a dumbbell between your legs. Or, hook a plate to a chin/dip belt.
TEN-DEGREE DECLINE CLOSE-GRIP
Do these as you would close grip bench presses, but perform them on a decline bench with your feet hooked under the padded rollers. The angle of declination should be set at 10 degrees. It’s best to have a partner help you unrack the weight.
From a supine position, lift the barbell off the rack and hold it at arm’s length. On the descent, bring the bar to the lower portion of the sternum. On the ascent, as soon as the bar is four to six inches above your chest, concentrate on pushing the bar back toward the uprights and moving your elbows under the bar for greater leverage. Extend your elbows only to about 95 percent of lockout to keep tension on the triceps.
SEATED HALF PRESSES IN POWER RACK
Set up an adjustable incline bench inside a power rack. The angle of inclination should be 80-90 degrees. The seat portion should be angled upward so you will not slip off. Set the pins at hairline level.
Unrack the bar. Lower the bar to the pins, but maintain slight tension on the working muscles. Hold the bar in this dead-stop position for the duration of the pause. Do not release the tension. Press the bar upward to complete the movement. All the while, your elbows should be pointing outward. Dead-stops of from two to four seconds in the bottom position are best. Recommended tempo is 2210 or 3210, depending on arm length.
ONE-ARM DUMBBELL SCOTT-ZOTTMANN CURLS
Use a seated Scott bench. Have a partner hand you the dumbbell. Using a supinated grip (palms facing ceiling), curl the dumbbell to the point just before tension on the elbow flexors is lost. At this point, pronate your forearm completely, so your palm is facing away from you. When you lower the weight, the biceps brachii will have an ineffective line of pull, thereby shifting the load to the underlying brachialis and the brachioradialis.
Make sure elbow flexors are fully stretched in the bottom position of the eccentric range before you supinate your wrist to begin the next rep. To enforce this, your forearms should make contact with the padded surface of the Scott bench at the end of the eccentric range.
PAUSED, STANDING, MID-REVERSE-GRIP EZ BAR CURLS
Grasp an EZ Bar with a shoulder-width, semi-pronated (overhand) grip (the second bend away from the center of the bar). Curl the bar until the tops of your forearms make contact with your biceps.
Do not swing the bar or flare your elbows to complete the movement. For maximal isolation, support your shoulder blades with a Swiss ball.
SEATED DUMBBELL ZOTTMANN CURLS
Grasp two dumbbells and sit at the edge of a flat bench, or better yet, one that supports your lower back and allows you to lock your feet into place.
With arms fully extended downward and dumbbells in the bottom position, palms should face forward. To prevent recruitment of forearm flexors during the concentric phase, curl the dumbbells with palms up and wrists cocked back. At the top (forearms in contact with biceps), pronate your forearms (rotate hands so palms face away from you). At the same time, straighten your wrists.
From this point, the exercise is identical to the eccentric portion of a reverse dumbbell curl. Keeping wrists in a neutral position with palms facing away, lower the dumbbells in a controlled manner. Keep your elbows glued to your sides throughout. If your elbows flare out, your brachialis muscles are weak in relation to your biceps brachii. Decrease the weight so you can do the exercise correctly.
SEATED OFFSET-GRIP DUMBBELL CURLS
Sit on a regular bench and hold the dumbbells with an offset grip- that is, an asymmetrical grip in which the thumb side of your hand rests against the inside surface of the dumbbell plate. This grip increases the involvement of the short head of the biceps upon wrist supination. Start with your wrists semi-pronated ( i.e., as if holding a hammer) and curl the weight to about 40 degrees of elbow flexion. Then, supinate your wrists (turn palms up) and complete the curling movement. Your forearms should touch your biceps.
CLOSE-GRIP BARBELL SCOTT CURLS (PREACHER CURLS)
Use less resistance than you would on standard curls. Set the height of the seat so the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. It’s best for your lower back if the seat is angled downward.
Sit on the Scott bench and grasp the barbell using a supinated (palms up) grip, with your little fingers four to six inches apart. Your arms should be outstretched so your triceps are in contact with the padded surface.
Initiate the movement by bending your elbows. Curl the barbell to the point at which your elbow flexors are just about to lose tension. Then, reverse the movement. Make sure your elbow flexors are fully stretched in the bottom position. Keep your wrists cocked back throughout the full range of motion.
By Charles Poliquin
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