Comments Off on Build Big, Muscular Arms With Isolation Training Techniques

Whenever I’m at the gym I see people trying to build big biceps and triceps in ways that train everything except these muscles. A common error is performing what should be an isolation exercise as a compound movement. Isolation exercises are designed to force the targeted muscle to perform with minimal assistance from other muscle groups. Preacher curls, “skull crushers” and alternating dumbbell triceps extensions are examples of isolation exercises that, when performed correctly, are very effective for building big biceps and triceps.

On the other hand, compound exercises encourage simultaneous and coordinated work between various muscle groups. Squats, bench press and power cleans demonstrate compound weightlifting movements. While compound movements excel for developing overall body strength, isolation exercises stimulate superior growth in a targeted muscle area. When an isolation movement is performed in compound fashion, the intended benefit of isolation training is lost.

For example, I highly recommend preacher curls for building big, muscular biceps. While this exercise is very effective when done properly, incorrect performance simply wastes time and energy. The most common mistake with preacher curls is swinging or rocking the torso as the weight is lifted and lowered. Preacher curls are intended to build massive upper arms by isolating resistance on the biceps as much as possible through strict training movement. But jerking or rocking the torso during this exercise enlists help from the shoulders and upper back. As a result, the intended benefit of doing preacher curls to build big, muscular biceps is lost.

Similarly, many novice and experienced bodybuilders rock or jerk their upper bodies during so-called “cheat curls” with a barbell or EZ-curl bar. It’s no wonder that they’re called cheat curls since the amount of shoulder, hip and back assistance in this exercise effectively “cheats” the biceps out of working sufficiently. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to build big biceps with cheat curls, the better approach is to perform standing barbell or EZ-bar curls while leaning slightly back against a wall. This simple adjustment prevents the upper body swing that prevents the biceps from doing sufficient work during cheat curls.

Technical errors that waste time and energy during arm building workouts aren’t limited to biceps training. When done properly, “skull crushers” or lying triceps extensions with an EZ-curl bar are great for building big, muscular triceps. But failing to keep your elbows in, lower the weight directly over your forehead and raise it at an 85-90 degree angle upon extension of your triceps will defeat the entire purpose of this exercise.

One reason that these types of training mistakes occur is ignorance. While nobody would intentionally waste time doing ineffective workouts, many people just don’t know how to properly perform isolation exercises to build big biceps and triceps. Another and perhaps more prevalent cause of poor training technique is the impatient desire to lift too much weight too soon. Many bodybuilding magazines encourage such impatience by constantly trumpeting the need to “blast” your arms with increasingly heavy workloads for maximum growth.

While it’s true that progressively increasing the weight in resistance training is essential to building big, muscular arms, you shouldn’t work with weight that is heavier than you can lift naturally and with proper workout technique. Don’t ever be concerned with impressing or keeping up with anyone else in the gym – especially if you’re just starting out. Even if you think it looks impressive to workout with enormous weight, you won’t get much benefit and will in fact delay your progress if you cheat on your isolation training techniques.

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