Exercising the Arms
The arms are worked substantially during all upper body exercises that involve the effort of more than two joints at the same time. This is why every time you train your chest, shoulders, and back you’ll be also working your arms. This is especially important in bodyweight training as multi-joint movements will be the most productive in terms of total muscular output.
SEE ALSO: One Of The Best Arms Workout Ever
It is crucial when performing arm exercises to concentrate on squeezing the targeted muscles and not allow other muscles to take over the job. Concentrate on feeling the arm muscles contracting when creating the desired movement. Before training his biceps, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to envision them growing as big as mountains. Bodybuilders call it a mind–muscle connection and with time you will also develop these neuromuscular pathways. Start by thinking about arm training as contracting your muscles against resistance. This will help you put maximal stress on the intended muscles.
Exercise #1: Triceps Extension
- Place your hands on the edge of a table/chair and lean your body into a push-up position. Make sure your grip is correct – fingers straight in front of you;
- Keep your body in a straight line with straight arms and legs and weight on the toes. Pull-in and tense your abdominals, brace your glutes and start lowering your body by bending the elbows;
- Focus on raise your body by using the triceps to extend the elbows.
Primary: Triceps brachii
Secondary: Rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus
We start with the triceps extension as it is one of the rare exercises that truly targets the triceps. The reason is that the body revolves around the elbow joint with almost pure elbow extension. Plant firmly into the ground and contract the abdominals and glutes to maintain a solid straight line from head to toe, similar to a plank or a push-up. Maintain the position throughout the exercise. Be careful not to bend your hips as this can be potentially harmful to the low back. Keep the shoulder joint fixed and try to contain most of the movement around the elbows. Focus on using the triceps muscles to raise and lower the body.
You can control the difficulty level of this exercise by adjusting the height of your support. Using a taller chair or table makes the exercise easier. To make the exercise more difficult, use a shorter chair or table.
VARIATION: Short-Lever Triceps Extension
Individuals who find this movement challenging may perform the movement from the knees, limiting the body weight being lifted. Try funding a sturdy chair or coffee table for support, as a standard table is too high.
MUST SEE: Complete Forearms Workout
Exercise #2: Short-Lever Inverted Curl
Safety tip: choose a sturdy table or chair and preferably perform over a soft surface (carpeting).
- With your back on the floor, set up under a sturdy table with your hands grasping the outer edges, palms facing each other;
- Keep the torso and legs in a straight line, neck in neutral position, knees bent at 90 degrees, weight on the heels and the abs and glutes braced. Now raise your body by bending the elbows and keeping your head and neck in their natural positions, not tilted up or back;
- Keeping the shoulder joints fixed, lower to starting position by moving mostly at the elbows.
Primary: Biceps brachii
Secondary: Brachialis, rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus
Note that the short-lever inverted curl is one of the rare pure biceps exercises, as most of the others will heavily involve the muscles of the back. As in the previous exercise, make sure you tense and contract the core and the glutes in order to keep your torso and legs in a straight line. This maintains core stability while moving your body around the elbows to target the biceps.
You can again accommodate different levels of strength by using a taller table (easier), or a shorter table (more challenging). Depending on the type of table you use for support, you might not be able to get a full range of motion, as your head might come into contact with the bottom of the table. If this is indeed the case, just execute an isohold by holding the top position for some time (30 seconds to 2 minutes) or perform a shorter-range pumping motion. Otherwise, grip both ends of a towel wedged into the top of a door. By using a neutral grip you can work the brachialis and brachioradialis a bit more than the biceps.