Not So Useless Biceps Muscles and The Exercises you Need to Try

As a 40 year-old guy I enjoy all kinds of exercise. If it keeps me strong, helps me stay flexible or increases my endurance it makes it into my workout/playtime rotation.
At this age, strength and muscle disappear fast if you don’t work at it, so resistance training is always a priority, even basic bodybuilding movements with traditional weights to hit every body part.
Yes, every. This means curls of some variation for the biceps, and even isolation work for those rear deltoids. I do this because, like every other muscle in the body, the biceps (or the posterior deltoids) are important and functional.They play a vital role in flexing the elbow and supinating the forearm, both movements which happen often throughout the day.
The biceps are a vital link between the anterior deltoids and the forearms, which is why I was surprised to read an article in a popular men’s magazine quoting trainers that claimed they were “useless.”
According to the short blurb in the magazine, the triceps were the more “important” muscles, and isolation work on the biceps was unnecessary and even dangerous. Claiming that “curls pull your shoulders forward and bend your elbows out” leaving you prone to injury, the quoted celebrity trainer also said too much biceps work would make your pecs look ‘droopy.’ Uh-huh.
eorthopod.com
So does this mean you should stop training your biceps?!?
No! As the magazine goes on to state, you will get plenty of biceps work from doing compound exercises like rows, pullups and even deadlifts.  But instead of ignoring these important muscles, try getting creative with how you work them. Forget the curls and consider these exercises:
-Hanging dumbbell rotations.
The biceps supinate the forearm, so why not add weight and resist this motion? Stand and hold a dumbbell in either hand hanging at your side, palms facing backwards, shoulders back. Grip the dumbbells firmly and rotate the hands until the palms are facing forward. Squeeze this position for 2-3 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Farmer’s Walks.
Holding dumbbells at your sides, walk with palms face forward or rotate as you walk as in the exercise above. Engage the biceps with a firm grip on the dumbbells. This exercise is also great with 8x8x16 mason blocks or a similar odd object.
Medicine ball curls.
Doing a curl with an open hand instead of with the fingers wrapped around a bar requires a slow, concentrated motion. Obviously some grip will be necessary, especially when you are lowering the ball, but open the hand through most of the movement. Start lighter and consider using one of the squishy sand-filled balls for this one.
While the majority of your workouts should involve compound exercises, don’t neglect the smaller muscle groups like the biceps from time to time. Undertraining these vital muscles can cause just as many problems as overtraining them.  Get creative and have fun!
For more interesting biceps routines, read this article:

Rocky’s Functional Training in Russia!

Rocky Balboa takes on Mother Russia in Rocky IV! And how does he do it? Not using fancy machines and a team of exercise physiologists, but with good old-fashioned functional training implements anyone can find!

If you haven’t seen the movie Rocky IV, it contains some of the best hardcore functional strength and conditioning in movie history (arguably.) Most important, the only ‘traditional’ piece of equipment Sylvester Stallone uses in this movie is a pull-up bar.

Besides this he uses only what is available in and around the remote Russian farm house he is living in. He goes on runs in the deep snow, pulls loaded sleds with a makeshift harness, saws thick logs, heaves stones, and chops down trees with a massive axe. Talk about some serious core work!

In addition he works on a speed bag, and in one triumphant scene he presses a cart loaded with his training team. Who needs a barbell?

In all of these scenes there is one important ingredient exhibited in every workout: Hard Work ( and dedication. But, of course, hard work requires dedication, so…)

It did not matter what he was doing, he was dedicated to his goal and worked hard to get there. Unrelenting! Here is a great montage of the Rocky IV training segments, showcasing Rocky’s rough and functional workouts with the technical workouts of his Russian opponent. Enjoy, and maybe you can get some great ideas for your own workouts!

Working Out the Same Muscles Two Days in a Row

In a recent Men’s Health magazine e-mail, they were pimping a book called “Huge in a Hurry” by Chad Waterbury. In this book the author expounds upon the virtues of working the same muscle groups multiple days in a row. 
Because I focus a lot on the energy system and performance aspect I am improving when I train, this concept made perfect sense to me. Let’s go over the basic idea here.
First, working the same muscle group two days in a row does not mean taking the same bodybuilding workout routine you did for your back and repeating it the next day. That is a sure way to overtraining. 
Instead, consider the gymnast. One day’s workout may consist of a typical warm-up, then technique work on the rings. If one day is heavy on the rings, the next day may be split between strength work (in the gym) and a review of the previous day’s techniques. 
The same muscle groups are being used, but the ring’s training load has decreased, and a different modality is used in the gym. The next may be spent doing recovery exercises. An example would be lighter resistance and stretching; nothing too heavy or difficult. 
Functional workouts, such as those used in Crossfit gyms or at GymJones, focus on a particular energy system. The workouts are designed to improve strength, power, endurance or build muscle; but usually a combination of these. This approach means the same muscle groups will often be trained several days in a row, or at least with less than 48 hours recovery time.

For example, an Absolute Strength day may look like this:
Warm-up: 10 minutes on stationary bike or rower.
Dynamic-specific warm-up for:
-Deadlift: 1-2 sets at 40-50 percent of 1 repetition max x 10-20. Not to failure.
Then:
-Deadlift: 5-6 sets; work up to singles or doubles at 90% of 1 rep. max.

A Strength Endurance day:
Same warm up and dynamic warm up (only one set this time.)
-Deadlift: 5 x 12, 6,5,3,12, working up to 80-85 percent 1 RM.
Between deadlift sets do:
Stationary bike or rower x 1 minute at hard pace.
After deadlift/sprint rest 90 seconds and repeat.
Finish with 20 minutes at steady pace on rower or bike.

A Power workout using the back squat could look like this:
General warm up
Dynamic warm up with bodyweight squats or light weight.
Then:
Back Squat: 8 x 3 reps. Use a fast but controlled eccentric movement (going down,) and accelerate the bar as fast as possible when standing up. The power reps are not to failure, and are done with 40-50 percent of your one rep. max.
Although you may not want to train any single performance aspet two days in a row, these workouts could be done as strength, endurance and power three days in a row. Or as strength, power and strength/endurance. Other combinations training sport specific activities are also possible.
There are training systems that subject the trainees to heavy workloads on a daily basis, such as the Bulgarian method. Bulgarian Olympic lifters have been known to work on maximum and near maximum lifts six days a week, often enduring more than one workout per day. 
If weightlifting is not your full-time job, though, stick to varying your workload and your intensity. The results will be magnificent, and you just might make faster gains than you ever have before.
***Get the advice of a professional trainer or coach (which I am not) before attempting new and different exercise programs!
Listen to Louie Simmons teaching about increasing bench pressing power. This man has a wealth of knowledge.
Get Chad Waterbury’s book “Huge in a Hurry” here:

                                           

For more information about lifting with bands, go here:

http://www.flexandflow.com

Read more about muscle-building workouts here:

http://www.realmusclefast.com

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