Posing the question “What’s your favourite and/ or best exercise for arms?”, the answers I received are varied, but not that varied. Is this because these exercises are the “best” exercises? Or, may it be in part to available equipment and also conforming to what is considered “the done thing”? Maybe both. From the more experienced trainers, the answers are more varied, with many stating what exercises they felt had the best “feel” (for them) in terms of comfort and muscle stimulus. For example, a triceps rope being used for pressdowns to avoid aggravating an existing elbow issue, or a preacher bench used for greater load on the Biceps at the mid-position of a curl. Often though, I believe that having a “favourite” movement can hinder our development – decreasing variety and increasing the likelihood of repetitive stresses. That’s not to say “perform exercises that are uncomfortable” – we don’t want to aggravate a pre-existing injury; it simply means regularly changing the angles at which we work around a joint to avoid repetitive stress injuries, such as golfers elbow or tennis elbow, and greater tax different muscles/ muscle heads.
In terms of actual size, a well-developed arm can be somewhat of an illusion. Consider the wearing of short sleeves on such arms; what’s on show are a lean strong pair of forearms (flexors and extensors), leading to a prominent Brachioradialis and Anconeus flash, and the lower reaches of the Brachialis and medial and lateral head of the Triceps (sometimes even showing the long head of the triceps, depending on sleeve length). Pop a vest on, a developed short head to the Biceps will look very underwhelming without equal development of the long head of the Biceps, the supporting Brachialis, and the opposing Triceps muscles. Simply performing your favourite EZ Bar curls forever more, will not achieve the optimal appearance of working all of the aforementioned muscle bellies; it is achieved through a greater variety of extension and flexion exercises around the wrist and elbow joint. So, buck the trend, be a bit nonconformist, be more intuitive and individual with your training, and start adding variety to your arm training to achieve top guns!
To help further, below, here is a video recapping on some of the key points made and a selection of exercises that I choose to incorporate in to my arm workouts; exercises include: Low Cable Curls, Dog Bone-Style Triceps Pressdowns, Supination Cable Curls, Triceps Rope Extensions superset with Triceps Rope Pressdowns, and Zottman Curls.
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