Basic Arm Workout

Basic Arm Workout

a) Biceps

1.  Dumbbell Curls (Supinated curls)

This exercise works the biceps in particular, but it also works the brachialis and brachioradialis to some degree.

How: Hold your hand in a neutral position and then grasp the dumbbell with one hand.  While rotating the wrist to bring the thumb toward the outside, bend the arm using your biceps.  Bring the weight as high as possible.  To do this, you may slightly lift the elbow.  But do not exaggerate the movement of the elbow.  Maintain the contracted position for one second while squeezing your forearm against your biceps as tightly as possible.  Slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

Variations: You can lift 2 dumbbells at the same time or one after the other.  You will be the strongest if you do the latter.

NB: If you cheat too much by swinging your torso from front to back, you are risking an injury to your back.  To learn to do the exercise perfectly, you can begin by doing it with your back against the wall.  If you are a beginner, you can also do the seated version of this exercise.

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2.  Concentration Curls

This exercise works the brachialis muscle a bit more and the biceps a bit less than Dumbbell curls.

How: While seated, grab a dumbbell with one supinated hand (thumb away from your body).  Place your triceps against the inside of your thigh.  Bend the arm using your biceps.  Lift the weight as high as possible without lifting the elbow.  Maintain this contracted position for one second while squeezing your forearm against your biceps as tightly as possible.  Slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

NB: In order to be low enough to support your arm on your thigh, you have to round your back.  It is therefore vulnerable.  To protect your back, press your free hand against your other thigh to create pressure on your spinal column.

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3.  Hammer Curls

As opposed to Dumbbell curls, Hammer curls specifically targets the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles and does not work the biceps as much.

How: Grab the weights with your hands in the neutral position (each thumb pointing up, as if you were grabbing a hammer).  Bend your arms while keeping the thumbs pointing up.  Lift the weights as high as possible.  To achieve this, you can move the elbows slightly, but be careful not to move them too much.  Maintain the contracted position for one second by squeezing your forearms as tightly as possible against your biceps.  Lower the weights slowly to the starting position.

Variations: You can lift 2 dumbbells at the same time or one after the other.  You will be the strongest if you do the latter.

NB: Be careful of your back and your wrists, especially if you are using very heavy weights.

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b) Triceps

Your triceps consists of a lateral, long and medial head.  For best results you need to train all 3.

1.  Push Downs

This exercise works mostly the lateral and long head, but also the medial head of the triceps.

How: Attach a straight or angled bar to a high pulley and grab with an overhand grip (palms facing down) at shoulder width.  Standing upright with the torso straight and a very small inclination forward, bring the upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor. The forearms should be pointing up towards the pulley as they hold the bar. This is your starting position.

Using the triceps, bring the bar down until it touches the front of your thighs and the arms are fully extended perpendicular to the floor. The upper arms should always remain stationary next to your torso and only the forearms should move. Exhale as you perform this movement.

After a second hold at the contracted position, bring the bar slowly up to the starting point. Breathe in as you perform this step.

Variations: There are many variations to this movement. For instance you can use an E-Z bar attachment as well as a V-angled bar that allows the thumb to be higher than the small finger. Also, you can attach a rope to the pulley as well as using a reverse grip on the bar exercises.

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2.  Overhead Triceps Extensions

This exercise works the lateral, long and medial heads of the triceps.

Sit or stand.  Grab a dumbbell with both hands (for bilateral work) or with one hand (for unilateral work).  Move the weight behind your head, with your elbows and pinkie fingers pointing toward the ceiling.  Using your triceps straighten your arms before bringing the weight back down.

NB: When doing this exercise bilaterally, it is easy to lose your form, arch your back, or hit yourself in the head with a weight!

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3.  Kickbacks

This exercise works the lateral and long heads of the triceps.

While leaning forward, grab the dumbbells with your hands in the neutral position (thumbs pointing toward the floor).  Your arms should be glued to your sides and parallel to the floor.

Lower the weights so that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.  Using your triceps, straighten your arms.  Hold the position for one second with arms extended before lowering the weights.

NB: The lower back is involved when you do this exercise bilaterally.  When you do the exercise unilaterally, you can press your free hand against the thigh, which will help support the spinal column.

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