So it's about that time of year when you might be thinking ahead to your summer holiday and if you've not already booked one, getting on the case! When we get those glimpses of blue sky, we start looking up and dreaming of the sun and sea and wanting to make it a more permanent feature. Alongside holiday thoughts, your mind might start wandering to beachwear and what trends and colours are in. Then you might get a split second (men & women) of worry about how you'll look in whatever you choose. Fear not. There is plenty of time still to make some great progress on whichever area you need some work on.
We are going to start sharing some great workouts for all areas of the body to help you with your goals. Of course, your body isn't just for summer, just like a puppy isn't just for Christmas so make sure you form great, healthy habits which last and are sustainable.
We are going to start with an area a lot of focus and attention goes on : arms. You've heard the expression, sun's out, gun's out right?! (guns meaning biceps). Depending on how you train and what your priorities are, you might be focussing on biceps and triceps on seperate days. That's fine, just split our exercises below and use them on the days you want.
We must admit, that these workouts will burn your biceps and try your triceps! That is a good feeling though - it proves it's working and you're building up definition:) Before we get into the exercises we've picked out for each, we thought we'd share some more technical detail on the makeup of the bicep & tricep.
Did you know that the tricep is actually the bigger of the two muscles? If you want to achieve bigger arms/thickness, it's important to focus on the triceps. So often, people perform bicep curl after curl and neglect this longer, larger, multi-faceted friend.
Biceps - the muscle is actually called biceps brachii and is made up of two (bi) muscle strands which work in unison (the short-head and long-head). The biceps cover the front of the upper arm starting at the scapula (collar bone) and ending at the radius. It's primary functions are to bend the elbow, flex the shoulder and turn the forearm (called supination).
To train both the short and long-head of the biceps brachii, you need to ensure your exercises target/test each strand. The long-head is the outer part of the muscle and the short-head is the inner portion. To target each head in turn, you can focus on where your elbows are positioned in relation to your arms/body. If the elbows are pulled back behind the body, this targets the long-head whereas your elbows should be out in front to focus more on the short-head (e.g. preacher curl). The other consideration is grip. To give the long-head a workout using dumbbells etc. the grip should be semi-supinated so your palms face inwards. The EZ bar (the zigzag bar in the gym) for preacher curls will enable this easily. Also make sure your hands are inside shoulder width for maximum impact. For the short-head, make sure your palms are facing up in the traditional dumbbell curl style. EZ bar wise, your hands should be outside of shoulder width this time.
Triceps - similarly called triceps brachii and is located at the back of the upper arm starting at the humerus (upper arm bone) & scapula and ending at the ulna (forearm bone). It's function is to extend the elbow and shoulder.
Similar again to the biceps, the triceps are made up of a bundle of three muscles (tri meaning three). They are called the long-head, medial and lateral heads.
To work the triceps, a closer grip works best and we will outline some of our favourites below.
BICEPS - Here's our top 4:
1) The classic concentration curl which focusses on the short-head of the bicep because the elbow is positioned out in front on you. It's a great exercise to really isolate the biceps because your upper arm is prevented from swaying.
2) Standing bicep curl now but with a twist at the top of the move to bring your palms facing each other therefore working both the short head during the curl and long-head at the top of the move.
3) Back to sitting and here we have an incline which moves your elbows back behind your body therefore making it further to curl (and a bit harder) and also putting emphasis on the long-head.
4) To end, this is a traditional bicep curl but due to the hammer style (palms in), it will workout your long-head. If you want to tackle the short-head more, just point your palms upwards into a regular curl. Try not to allow your body to sway due each curl for maximum effect.
TRICEPS - here are our top 4:
1) First up, cable extensions. You get a real sense of work on the tricep with this exercise.
2) Next, onto the bench for a rest! (joke) The California press is great for isolating the triceps especially with the closed grip. Stay in control of the weight to ensure safety overhead.
3) This move is more advanced and you can always use resistance bands to counter weight your bodyweight if you cannot lift yourself. Do not overextend at the top of the move but keep your upper arms horizontal with the floor.
4) Finally, this is our favourite and will make your arms BURN! Perform what we call a Matrix 21 of this move if you're brave enough. Basically split the pushdown into 3 chunks and perform 7 sets of each to make 21 reps totally of each set. Then repeat 3 times. Start high and go to horizontal (step one x7), then from horizontal push all the way down (diagram 2) (step two x7). To finish complete the full push (1&2 below) for the final 7 reps!
We hope you've enjoyed reading about our best workout for bigger, bolder arms! We hope you've also learnt something about biceps & triceps and how they operate. Stay tuned for many more workout ideas for different parts of the body as we approach the summer:) Have a great one Fitfam & thanks for reading our fitness blog.