Arms are one of my favorite areas to exercise. They are so simple to isolate and seemingly little effort goes a long way. However, as with all muscle groups, it is easy to get to a plateau and lose motivation. Here is an exercise I like to shake things up in my routine.
First off, it is never a good idea to do the exact same exercises every time you work out a muscle group, especially in the same order. When you do this your muscles form a memory. If you have read any of my other articles, I am constantly talking about muscle memory. It is because it is something I wish others would have told me as I was struggling with each new plateau. Basically, our bodies crave routine. As with all nature, they are seeking the path of least resistance. Muscles want to get into a rhythm and stay there; however, once they do, growth eventually stops.
The best way to beat this is to change your workouts. I recommend having a couple core exercises per muscle group and to substitute in others. For example, I love to do bicep curls using a bench press bar while standing. I do not know why, I just do. So, I use this exercise as my measure of success. If I am able to keep adding weights to this exercise, I am moving forward. For the other exercises on bicep day, I try to alternate often.
Two ways I like to shake up my arms are with exercises that allow a lot of reps or stretch the muscles while completing them. One exercise that accomplishes both of these goals for me is “Black Jack” or “21” as I call it.
For this, I take my bench bar (45 lbs) and add five or ten pounds to each side. Do whatever works for you. Do not feel bad if you have to go much lighter, this is an exercise that is different than your muscles are used to. Then, stand stall with bar gripped with hands shoulder width and hanging with arms straightened.
Next, bring the bar up until your elbows are a 90 degree angle and the bar parallel to the floor. Basically, it is a half curl and then stop. Hold it for a two count and slowly lower back down all the way down and flex your triceps. This ensures you are all the way down, but go slow so you do not hyper-extend your elbows. Do this for seven reps at the exact same pace.
After seven bring the up into a full curl to your shoulders, then lower to the 90 degree mark and no lower. Hold for a two count and bring it back to your shoulders. Do this seven times and then lower all the way to the stretch position.
Lastly, do seven complete curls from the legs to the shoulder at a relaxed pace.
Beware: it starts off easy, but you will be cussing at me be the end!