Photo: United States Forces Iraq
While most of my clients have a decent training background, a lot of the programs they’ve done are pretty basic.
Now, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that—you can get great results from basic programming that focuses mostly on compound lifts and bicep curls—but despite the claims of some, that’s not going to work all of your muscles to their fullest potential.
So I’m going to have to get these guys and gals used to some funky new exercises, and because I truly love some of these exercises, I think you’ll get a lot out of them, too. In this post, I’m going to share just two of my favorite arm exercises that I try to work into the programs of my coaching clients as frequently as possible.
This variation of the overhead press ends up with you looking like a Y—hence the name. You press your arms out to 45 degrees instead of straight up. By doing this, you put your arms in a mechanically weaker position; gravity is pulling the weights down, and your arms in the weakened state have to work not to fall out laterally.
This stimulates you in a way that a traditional overhead press doesn’t. Go light here – start with dumbbells so light you’re almost embarrassed, and try 15 reps. While you’re not likely to build huge delts with this exercise, it’s fantastic for shoulder stability in all of your overhead lifts, which can help increase muscular development overall—in the long run. and it’s doubly great as a warm up.
Super Charging Tip: To really activate the itty bitty muscles like the infraspinatus and supraspinatus as stabilizers, hold for 1 second at the top of the movement.
The Zottman Curl
The Zottman curl falls under a category of exercises known as “compound-isolation movements.” This means that one phase of the movement is a compound movement and the other phase is more of an isolation exercise.
I’ve written about CIM’s before, and I think they’ve great for both strength and mass. The first factor to consider is the number of muscles involved: Unless you have some very bizarre strength imbalance, you’ll be able to use much more weight for a compound movement than you could for an isolation movement, assuming that both lifts use the same primary mover.
Another factor that we must take into account is eccentric or negative strength—which can be up 175% greater than concentric strength (although it’s been shown that, generally, eccentric strength is closer to 50-75% greater than concentric strength in most non-elite trainees).
Compound-isolations come as a result of the two above factors. We know that you’re stronger in a compound movement than an isolation movement. We also know that you’re stronger negatively than you are positively. So, in order to put this knowledge to some muscle-building use, we “change it up.”
That is, you perform a compound movement concentrically, and then switch in the middle and execute the eccentric portion of an isolation exercise that relies on the same primary mover. Due the mechanical advantages inherent to each part of the lift, you’ll be able to use a weight that is significantly challenging in both the positive and negative phases of the exercise.
A Zottman curl is a hybrid of a traditional dumbbell curl and a reverse curl.
Here’s a video:
In the case of the Z-curl, the bicep curl (which is generally considered an isolation exercise) serves as the compound movement—because it involves the biceps, as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis. The reverse curl mostly focuses on the brachioradialis, or forearm muscle.
Again, you can almost certainly curl more than you can reverse curl—but you can probably lower a great deal of weight in the negative phase of a reverse curl. A Zottman allows you to do both.
This exercise is a great substitution for just about any biceps exercise, but is really phenomenal for building forearm and grip strength (which, in turn, will allow for greater biceps development).
Super Charging Tip: If you really want to take your arm—especially forearm—growth to the next level, try Zottman’s with FAT GRIPZ on the dumbbells. Killer!
Okay, so that’s jut TWO of the FIVE exercises I have for you. I wanted to keep this post short and sweet; Check out part two of this blog post right here!