VARIATION: Long-Lever Inverted Curl
Individuals who find the movement easy may perform the exercise with straight legs that are elevated on to another chair or bench, increasing the total body weight being lifted.
Exercise #3: Biceps Chin-Up
Safety tip: use a secure rafter or chin-up bar.
- Start in a full-stretch position, hanging from a secure rafter or a chin-up bar with straight arms and a supinated grip, palms facing you. The toes are off the ground and the knees can be somewhat bent or straight, depending on what is more comfortable;
- In a slow and steady manner, pull your body over the rafter/ bar to sternum height while maintaining a stable core;
- Equally steady, lower your body all the way down to the starting position.
Primary: Biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi
Secondary: Brachialis, lower and middle trapezius, rhomboids, rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus
The chin-up is a classic bodyweight exercise for the biceps and back muscles (latissimus dorsi). This movement requires a rafter or bar you can hang from with a supinated grip – which works best for the biceps.
This exercise is commonly done incorrectly as people fail to use the full range of motion at the top and bottom of the movement, by swinging the legs and using momentum, overarching their low back, or by shrugging their shoulders at the top of the movement.
You must maintain a stable core and keep your body in a straight line, from the shoulders to the knees, with tensed and contracted abs and braced glutes. When at the very top of the movement with the chin over the bar, keep the shoulder blades back and down, tucked into the back pockets. Maintain a full range of motion by starting from a fully hanging position and keep rising all the way to where the bar touches the top of your chest. By performing chin-ups in this manner, you’ll get an effective core workout in addition to the upper-body workout.
Exercise #4: Close Grip Push-Up
- Lie in a normal push-up position with your face down and the hands positioned shoulder-width apart, the elbows tucked into the body;
- With the feet together, braced glutes and a stable core, press the body up;
- Lower the body until the chest touches the floor.
Primary: Triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoid
Secondary: Upper and lower trapezius, serratus anterior, rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus
The close grip push-up is another classic exercise that targets the triceps and pectorals. While the exercise is extremely effective, you must maintain a high level of concentration to perform the correct movement. Most people are either sagging at the hips, looking up and overextending the neck, stopping short and failing to use a full range of motion, or, crucially for the triceps, failing to center their elbows over the wrists. Continuous flexion of the abs and glutes ensures a strong core, keeping the body straight and not allowing the hips to sag. Make sure you lower your body until the chest touches the floor. Look down throughout the exercise and keep checking that the elbows are in line with the wrists. Again, keeping your muscles tensed and contracted ensures you get a good core workout in addition to the upper-body workout
Exercise #5: Three-Point Bench Dip
Safety tip: use sturdy chairs or weight benches.
- You can use either 3 chairs or, if you have access to them, two weight benches. Set up the three chairs so that your feet are resting on one and your torso is centered between the other two. You can set the benches parallel to each other, with your palms on one bench and your heels on the other;
- Place the palms on the end of each of the 2 chairs, the fingers forward, and keep your torso upright and the legs in a straight line. Progressively lower your body until you feel an adequate stretch. Don’t go too low, you’ll be risking an injury. When your upper arms become parallel to the floor you know you’ve gone far enough;
- Push your body back up to the starting position.
Primary: Triceps brachii
Secondary: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoid
The bench dip is a common exercise performed at most gyms. It’s an effective triceps builder and you can easily adjust the difficulty depending on your strength level. You can make it easier by performing with the feet flat on the floor and knees bent, reducing the total amount of body weight being lifted. Descend only until your upper arms become parallel to the floor to receive a good stretch. Be warned though: if you regularly lower yourself too deeply, you put the soft tissue and structure around the shoulder joint at risk of an injury. Keep a tall chest and a straight neck throughout the movement and don’t allow the lower back to round.