The Arm Series - Impact Personal Training

Biceps & Triceps AKA the front and backs of your upper arm 

You don’t need to do tons and tons of arm training especially if you’re overall goal is fat loss. Your arms will get a good amount of stimulation from your back and chest and shoulder movements, but it is good to incorporate a few isolation exercises a couple of times a week especially if your arms are an area you would like to improve. We are going to run through a variety of bicep exercises before moving onto the triceps.

 

Barbell Curls.

For this first exercise you will need either a barbell or an EZ bar. Although this exercise isn’t the greatest bicep exercise due to its shorter range of motion, it is still a great way to overload the overall bicep.

  • Start by holding the bar in a standing position, with the hands positioned on the bar around shoulder width apart(underhand).
  • Brace your core and elevate your chest, ensuring your elbows are staying position next to your ribs.
  • Keeping your torso and legs locked in, drive your hands up towards your chin, keeping the elbows in a fixed position and making the bicep as short as possible.
  • Once at the top of the rep, bring the hands back down towards your legs getting a full stretch on your biceps. Your arms should be near enough straight at the bottom of the movement, but the bar should not rest on your legs at the bottom of the rep.

The ensure you have a full stretch at the bottom of the movement, flex your triceps hard as you would not be able to do so if your biceps aren’t fully lengthened. If you find your elbows are raising forwards towards the top of the rep, or you are needing to swing to get the weight moving from the legs, drop the weight down and focus on letting the biceps control the movement.

Dumbbell Curls.

For this second set of exercise you will need some dumbbells. Dumbbells are a much better option as opposed to using a barbell as they allow for a greater range of motion and can be more comfortable on your wrists and elbows. We are going cover three variations, supinating curls, incline curls and hammer curls.

Supinating Curls:

  • Start by standing with dumbbells in both hands, relaxed either side of your body. Take a neutral or split stance, whichever one allows for a stable foundation.
  • Brace your core, keep your chest up and start with hands in a neutral position.
  • Without moving your torso, bring your hand up towards your chin while keeping your elbow in a fixed position from start to finish. Once the dumbbell is around half way up, start to twist your wrist outwards (imagine trying to pull your little finger towards your chin)
  • At the end of the rep where the dumbbell Is near your chin, your wrist should be in a supinated position (knuckles facing away from you) with the full contraction being in the bicep.
  • As you bring the dumbbell back down, twist your back inwards so your hand ends in a neutral position.

Hammer Curls:

  • Start by standing with dumbbells in both hands, relaxed either side of your body. Take a neutral or split stance, whichever one allows for a stable foundation.
  • Brace your core, keep your chest up and start with hands in a neutral position.
  • Without moving your torso, bring your hand up towards your chin while keeping your elbow in a fixed position. For this exercise we are going to keep the hand in a fixed neutral position throughout.
  • Bring your hand up as far towards your chin as you can while keeping your elbow fixed in, before lowering your hand back down towards your legs.

Incline Curls:

  • For this exercise you will need to have a bench available. Set it up at a 60-degree angle. Sit yourself back with the dumbbells in either hand.
  • Drive your feet into the ground and brace your core, let your arms hang down and keep them in a fixed position.
  • Keeping everything in a fixed position, drive the hands up towards your chest whilst ensuring your elbow doesn’t lift forward. The movement should end when the gap between your forearm and upper arm has been made as small as possible.
  • Control the dumbbell back down to the bottom position with your bicep in a full stretched position.
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement to ensure no swinging is used to help the next rep.

To ensure the bicep is being stimulated as much as possible, ensure no momentum or swinging is used throughout the set, if you need to use momentum then drop the weight down and ensure your form is a good as possible.

Reverse Cable Curls

For this next variation you will need both sides of a cable machine available. This exercise will allow for a great stretch and contraction throughout the bicep and won’t require much load when performed correctly. Attach a handle either side of the cables and set the pulleys to the lowest possible setting.

  • Once you have the cables set up, face yourself away from the cable machine and grab both handles.
  • Take a step forward with either a split stance or a neutral stance (whichever you find more comfortable and stable).
  • Brace your core, keep your chest up and lock your shoulders and elbows in position (your elbows should be sat just behind your body)
  • Once you are in a set up position, drive your hands towards your chest, whilst keeping you elbows in the same fixed position as where they started.
  • Bring your hand up until the gap between your bicep and fore arm is no longer visible, hold at the top of the movement for 1 second, before allowing your hand to go all the way back into a stretched position.

When you are setting your stance up, don’t take any more than one step outwards, you’ll find that if you go too far away from the cables, you’ll put a lot of stress through the front of your shoulders. Also, if you find that your elbow is rising forward as you pull your hands towards your chest, chances are the weight is to heavy and your bicep isn’t contracting as well as it could be. Like most bicep exercises, imagine flexing your triceps at the bottom of the movement to ensure you get a full stretch.

Chin ups

The last exercise we are going to perform for the biceps is a chin up. Many people would have seen or heard of a pull up, and although fairly similar, the different hand positioning forces more emphasis on the biceps. All you will need for this exercise is a pull up bar.

  • Stand underneath a pull up bar, grab the bar with an underhand grip around shoulder width apart.
  • Bend your knees so you are no longer touching the floor and you are hanging.
  • Brace your core and drive your chip up towards the bar. The gap between your bicep and forearm should be completely closed at the top of the movement with your chin in line with the bar.
  • Keeping your core braced so you are not swinging, lower back towards the starting position with your arms in a fully extended position. Your feet should not touch the floor throughout the set.

If you struggle to do this exercise with your body weight, try attaching a band around the pull up bar and bringing it down under your knee to give you some assistance at the bottom of the movement.

Dips

The first exercise we are going to cover for the triceps is Dips. We are going to cover a variation where you will require a bench (beginner) and a variation where you will require a tricep dip station (advanced) the triceps are made up of three heads, and a tricep dip will hit all three at the same time.

Bench Dips

  • Sit down on the side of a flat bench. Place your hands on the bench either side of your body (should be shoulder width).
  • Once your hands are in position bring your knees to a 90-degree angle, with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Bring your torso forwards and off the bench so your weight in placed into your hands.
  • Keep your chest high, brace your core and drop your hips down towards the floor, creating a 90-degree angle with the elbow. Your back should stay as close to the bench as possible, but not touching.
  • Once your elbows have created a 90-degree angle, drive through your hands to take yourself back to the starting position.

if you want to make this version tougher, gradually move your feet away from your body until they are fully extended. Past this you could also elevate your feet to allow for a greater range of motion on the triceps before moving onto the next variation. The elbows should stay narrow throughout the set and shouldn’t flare outwards as you lower your body.

        

 

 

Dips

  • As mentioned for this variation you will need a machine that has the dip handles already set up, so you will not need to do any adjusting on the machine.
  • Place your hands on the handles provided (should be shoulder width) if your arms are in a fully extended position already, bend your knees so you are no longer touching the ground and you are holding your weight.
  • Keeping your chest high and your torso straight up, bring your body down towards the floor by bending the elbow and creating that 90-degree angle again.
  • Once that 90-degree angle has been created, drive through your hands pushing your torso back up to the starting position with your arms fully lengthened.

Your torso should not move throughout this movement to keep focus on the triceps. If you struggle with this using your bodyweight, wrap a resistance band around the handles and bring it down under your knees for some extra assistance.

 

Skull crushers

Skull crushers are a great exercise to hit the longhead portion of your triceps. We are going to cover 2 variations with dumbbells and an EZ bar.

DB Skull crushers

  • Lay down on a flat bench with 2 dumbbells.
  • Bring the dumbbells up so your arms are locked out and above your chest, keep your hands in a neutral position.
  • Keeping your elbows in a fixed position, bring the dumbbells down towards your fore head. Make the gap between your upper arm and fore arm as small as possible whilst keeping the elbow in a fixed position throughout.
  • Drive your hands back up towards the start position and finish just before the elbows fully lock out.

The dumbbells will allow for a greater range of motion as they allow you to have the ability to bring the dumbbells down past your ears as opposed to stopping at your fore head.

EZ Bar Skull crushers

  • Start  ff the same way by lying yourself down on a flat bench but instead bringing an EZ bar up above your chest. Place your hands on the bar so they sit around shoulder width apart.
  • Keeping the elbows in a fixed position and your elbows facing forward, bring the bar down towards your forehead.
  • Once the bar is near enough touching your forehead, drive your hands back up towards the start position, just before the elbows fully lock out.

Although your range of motion will be slightly shorter than the DB’s, you will be able to overload the muscle through more load on an EZ bar.

 

Narrow Bench Press

The narrow bench press is again a great exercise for the long head portion of the triceps. Although very similar to a regular bench press the different hand positioning places a lot more emphasis of the triceps.

  • Lay on a flat bench with the barbell set up in line with your eyes.
  • Place your hands on the bar at shoulder width apart (not any narrower)
  • Lift the bar off and bring it in line with your lower chest. Bring your hands down towards your chest, ensuring the elbows stay tucked into your body.
  • The bottom of the rep should be when the elbows just drop below your chest, and this is when you should initiate driving your hands back up to the starting position.

 

 

 

Cable Extensions / Pushdowns.

Cable extensions is going to be the last exercise we cover for triceps. It will typically hit all three heads of the tricep, and you will need a Pulley available on a cable to complete this exercise.

  • Start by attaching a rope attachment on to the pulley and setting it to the highest setting.
  • Start by locking your scapula back so your shoulders are in a fixed position. Keep your torso in a fixed position and your elbows fixed into the side of your body.
  • Keeping all the ques in a fixed position, drive the rope attachment down towards the floor and open the hands out to encourage a greater contraction, while keeping the elbows in a fixed position.
  • Bring the rope back up to the starting position without letting the elbows lift forward.

Using a rope attachment will encourage a greater range of motion as it allows you to open the rope up around your body. If you don’t have the availability to a rope you can use either a straight bar, a V bar or an EZ bar attachment. You will perform the exercise with the same ques.

Reece Halsey

Impact Personal Trainer

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