Workouts for every body part series
Building the body you’ve always wanted means putting in some serious work. You need exercises to target all the different muscle groups in order to develop a well-balanced body.
We want to make things a bit easier for you, so you can master each muscle group and optimize your workouts. This article series will help you figure out what works for each body part and what doesn’t and you will find out what exercises you should really be focusing on.
ARMS AND SHOULDERS BLASTING WORKOUTS FOR MASS
“Guns”, “pythons”, “thunder and lightning” or however you refer to them, the biceps are generally the glamour muscle group that anyone training with weights seeks to obtain. But we are talking about building up your upper arms – biceps and triceps, as well as your forearms.
Very often, those who want to build bigger arms focus on their biceps and triceps, while giving minimal attention to their forearms and wrists. The thing is your forearms and wrists are the ones who allow you to perform the exercises that develop and maximize the strength of your biceps, triceps, deltoids, chest and back. So it’s imperative that you not only train your biceps and triceps, but work your entire arms.
In order to attain big arms, you need to train your entire body. You need to focus on compound exercises, such as squats, rows, pullups, dumbbell curls and presses. When doing exercises for your back, you work your biceps too, while chest exercises work your triceps.
The best exercise equipment for building arm muscles is the barbell. When you use a barbell, it’s easier for your muscles to balance the weights, and you can even increase the amount of resistance you use. Dumbbells are close second at this chapter. While barbells have an advantage as to the maximum resistance you can use, dumbbells have the advantage of providing safety. This is especially important when suffering from lower back problems. Doing exercises with dumbbells can offer you more favorable positions for your spine.
Although dumbbells have the safety advantage, the safest pieces of weight training equipment are machines and cables. The exercise motions are more restricted than with free weights and using them is the perfect alternative especially for beginners.
Here’s a list of the best exercises for your biceps, triceps and forearms:
- Cable rope hammer curl – hold both hands of a rope attached to the low pulley of a cable machine. Keep your elbows into your sides, feet shoulder-width apart, torso upright, and knees slightly bent. Keeping your arms stable throughout the move, curl the rope toward your shoulders, pause and return to the starting position.
- Chin-ups - grab a bar using a shoulder-width underhand grip and hang at arm’s length. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, bend your elbows, and pull the top of your chest to the bar. Pause and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
- Seated cable row – at a cable row station keep your feet on the platform and knees slightly bent. With your palms facing each other, hold a V-bar. Keeping your back flat, pull your shoulders back as you pull the bar towards your torso.
- Bent-over barbell row - hold a barbell with a grip just beyond shoulder-width and at arm’s length. Bend your knees and tighten your abs. Pull the bar to your ribcage and lower back to the starting position.
- Dumbbell triceps extension – keep elbows over your head and lower forearm behind upper arm by flexing elbows. Raise the dumbbell over head by extending your elbows while hyperextending wrists.
- Weighted triceps dip – place a weight around your weight and get on a shoulder width dip bar keeping your arms straight with shoulders above hands. Keep your hips straight and lower your body until stretch is felt in your shoulders. Push your body up until your arms are straight and go back slowly.
- Barbell close grip bench press – lie on the bench and grasp the barbell from rack with a shoulder width grip. Lower the weight to your chest with elbows close to the body. Push the barbell up until your arms are straight and slowly lower back.
- Rope pushdowns – facing the high pulley, grasp the cable attachment with a narrow overhand grip. Position your elbows to the side and extend arms down. Return until your forearm is close to the upper arm and repeat.
- Seated wrist hammer curls – in a seated position with your back straight, place your forearm on your thighs with your thumbs pointed upward. Use a 10lb weight in a hammer position and lift it back and forth slowly.
- Farmer’s walk – take the heaviest dumbbells that you can handle and walk with your chest up and arms at your sides. Go 40-50 yards or walk in a figure-eight pattern if you don’t have the space. At the end of the distance stop and continue to hold the weights as long as possible.
- Finger curls – sitting down, hold a 5-, 10-, or 15lb in weight your hand. Turn your hand with the palm upward with the back of your wrist on your thigh. Allow the weight to roll down your fingers, and now curl your fingers back holding the weight securely.
- Towel pullup – hang a towel over a pullup bar and grasp an end with each hand. Hanging from the towel, pull yourself up until your chin is above your hands.
You need to stretch your muscles and increase their flexibility before each workout, so you can benefit from a full range of motion. The standing biceps stretch is simple and you can do it anywhere. You need to clasp hands behind your back. Turn your palms downward and lift your hands until you can feel the tension. Hold for 15-12 seconds and then repeat three more times. This stretching is also great for deltoids and pectoralis muscles.
The shoulders are the most used muscle in the upper body. They function in almost every action you’re doing. It’s one of the largest joint in the body and its musculature is very complex. The shoulder is made up of three bones – the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). It is protected by three ligaments that surround the shoulder joint, and most of its stability comes from the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. You need your shoulders to be mobile enough for a wide range of motions, but also stable enough so you can do actions such as lifting, pulling and pushing.
The largest of the shoulder muscles is the deltoid. This is the muscle which gives the shoulder its rounded-off shape. The action of the shoulder is complex, each portion of the deltoid acting singularly to produce distinct movements from the other portions of the muscle such as raising the arm and assisting the pectoralis muscle in the chest. The deltoid muscle is made up of three sets of muscle fibers:
- Anterior – front part of the shoulder
- Medial – middle part of the shoulder
- Posterior – rear part of the shoulder
When it comes to building those massive shoulders, you need to know what you are doing, put in the work necessary for the growth of the muscles, and understand that it takes time.
Building a well-framed shoulder isn’t rocket science. You just need to properly work the three deltoid parts. Here are some of the best exercises that you can include in your workout routine to help you build a nice pair of well-rounded shoulders.
- Barbell military press – with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width, grab a barbell from the rack or a clean barbell from the floor and position it in front of your neck. Press the bar up until your arms are extended overhead.
- Standing dumbbell fly – hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides. Use your upper body to swing the weights up a few inches. Your arms and torso will form an upside down V shape. Think of it as a lateral raise with momentum but without full range of motion.
- Face pull - attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station. Grasp an end in each hand with palms facing each other. Step back to place tension on the cable. Pull the handles to your forehead so your palms face your ears and your upper back is fully contracted.
- Trap raise – sit on a bench at a low incline chest-down with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing each other. Retract your shoulder blades, then raise the weights straight out so your arms are parallel to the floor.
For optimal results, train your biceps and triceps twice a week. Training less won’t give you quick results, while training more won’t give your muscles enough time to build and recover. Don’t overdo it because this will more likely cause injury and slow your progress even more. Also, you need to vary the exercises for best results.
What you eat before and after your training sessions fuels your body to build muscles as well as recover from your workout. Here are three useful tips for your diet that can help you build those strong arms and shoulders you wish for:
- Increase your protein intake. In order to build big and defined muscles, you should increase your protein intake, which should make up about 40% of your daily caloric intake.
- Consume less of the simple carbohydrates. Start cutting simple carbs out of your diet in order to maximize your biceps definition. Decrease the consumption of carbs to roughly 30% of your caloric intake and make sure that the carbs you eat come mostly from fruits and vegetables.
- Consume calories. You need a proper balance of caloric intake in order to build those muscle fibers.
There are many more things to cover on this subject, but for now, if you want to know what things you should avoid when building muscle, read our blog article “5 Deadly sins that are killing your muscle gains” and if you find yourself making even one of those mistakes, turn the page TODAY!