About every four years the Olympics roll around and one of the big eye catches is the physiques of the elite athletes. The v-tapers of the swimmers, low bodyfat levels of a sprinter and for all those muscle heads out there the arms of a gymnast.
In my opinion gymnast have the strongest biceps pound for pound than any other competitive sport and what’s crazy is that these guys don’t lift a damn dumbbell!
What do they do though is hang from the rings hours a day.
Now what most guys really don’t comprehend is that the biceps work alongside the muscles of the forearms and upper back, but majority of bicep exercises and machines are designed to take those out of the equation and focus strictly on bicep movement. To help explain that concept better it’s like just doing leg extensions to build impressive legs instead of squats or lunges.
Side Note: Muscles are NOT designed to work independently they are designed to work with under/overlapping muscles and along with any they come into with their origin and insertion attachment points.
If you were to take a look and watch a gymnastic training/practice you’ll notice they don’t do slow grinding sets to get a ‘pump’ (even though I admit it pretty cool to have one lol) and very rarely do their rep ranges for those big muscle builders (look at a iron cross) ever go into the 8-12 hypertrophy range. Instead, whether they realize it or not, are targeting high tension exercises that predominantly overload the FF (fast fatigable) muscle fibers; and those motor units have some of the most potential for growth.
Since most of you reading this are not competitive gymnast that have time nor access to a full gymnastics based gym here is a routine that will still do the trick.
1. Rope Climb– If your lucky enough to have a 2in rope suspended 10-15ft. at your place then just climb up and down that thing, without your feet, 2-3 times a week for 10sets; do that for a month and I promise you’ll arms will look noticeably larger. (I’ll say that get ready for some sorness in your all the muscles that attach in your elbow so I would recommend making sure this exercise is NOT the day before any other major pulling routine.)
Some Variations if you can’t hang the rope from the ceiling I would attached it to a sled or you can simply attache it to a low cable pulley (one that I have a lot of my clients do) or in some cases even a car 😉
The way you grip and hold onto the rope does make a bit of difference where you will feel the strain in your arms. For bicep development I like to have my clients grab the rope with and UNDERHAND grip. For more work of the brachials (don’t worry your still get plenty of bicep work) I will have them grab the rope in more of a neutral position or other words palms facing in. See the video above
2. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not a hater of direct bicep work, it does have it place in routines. If we feel the need I have all my clients, especially guys wanting big arms, use Fat Gripz. Try using these for hammer curls (be prepared for an ego check) and any reverse curl variation.
In Health and Fitness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, CES, RBT is the owner of Fitness Revolution in Rowlett, TX.
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