is it possible to work both your biceps and triceps
at the same time in the same movement? How can
this possibly increase your strength instantly?
The answer to this question is simple: Cable Pushdown
particular exercise is done using cables but this
training technique can also be done using free
weights as well (there will be an example using
free weights for those who don't have access to
a cable set-up).
Cable Pushdown Curl can technically be described
as a contralateral antagonistic movement. In plain
English, this means you're working the opposite
muscles on the opposite arms at the same time
- you'll be doing a bicep curl with your right
arm and a pushdown with your left arm at the same
But how can this instantly increase your strength?
answer lies in your nervous system. When you activate
the nerves in your biceps, due to the way your
body's nervous system is hooked up, this excites
the nerves in your opposing arm's triceps. It's
not enough to cause them to move, but it's enough
to "prime" them, for lack of a better
word, increasing the energy they have available
to fire. This extra nervous system energy results
in a small but noticeable increase in strength.
you do an exercise for your triceps at the same
time as you do an exercise for your biceps of
the opposing arm, you're going to be a little
stronger in both of the movements. This means
the ability to use more weight and/or get more
reps with it.
came across this contralateral-antagonistic training
theory in the writings of world-renowned strength
coach Charles Poliquin, who refers to this type
of exercise as "Scap Jacks." He reported
instant strength increases of up to 10% over what
the muscle was normally capable of.
exercise can also save you time in the gym by
allowing you to work your biceps and triceps fully
at the same time.
to Do Cable Pushdown Curls
do this exercise, you will need one high/low pulley
set up. This is normally found on a cable crossover
pulley station. Attach one single cable handle
to the bottom pulley and one single handle to
the top pulley.
out how much weight to use on this exercise will
require a little trial-and-error but start with
a fairly light weight to get the idea of the movement
the machine, grasp the lower handle and get into
the start position for a cable bicep curl.
reach up with your other hand and grasp the high
pulley. Get that handle into the start position
of a one-arm pushdown. You should have tension
on both your biceps and triceps at the start (meaning
the weight stack should not be resting on anything).
comes the tricky part - do a curl with one arm
as you do a pushdown with the other. It will feel
very strange at first but do a few reps until
you get the hang of it. The way the pulleys are
set up allows you to get tension on both movements
even though you're working in opposing directions.
the right hand is in the bottom position
of a cable curl and the left hand is in
the top position for the cable pushdown.
the weight plates are not resting on the
weight stack at the start. It's important
to start with tension on the muscles.
As you curl
with the right hand, you're doing a pushdown
with the left hand.
contralateral anatgonistic action increases
nervous system activation in the target
muscles, increasing strength.
you've completed the set, switch the movements
on your arms and go directly back into it. Your
arms will be extremely pumped up by the time you're
you've got the hang of the movements, it's time
to add some more weight to the exercise. As you
add weight, you will reach a point where you are
stronger in one exercise than you are in the other
and one will have a tendency to take over. You
can use this to your advantage by using your stronger
muscle to spot your weaker muscle. This will extend
the set, putting even more tension on both muscles,
working them even harder.
can also adapt this exercise to free weights if
you don't have access to a cable set-up. To do
this, simply do a dumbell curl in one hand and
an overhead dumbell tricep extension with the
other. You'll get all the same benefits as in
the cable version.
this exercise a try in your next arm workout.
Not only is it an excellent way to give your strength
a boost and throw some variety into your routine,
it's a great timesaver as well.
Weight Adaptation - Dumbell Curl Extensions
with your right arm in the bottom
of a dumbell curl and your left
are in the bottom of an overhead
your right arm up and do the extension
with your left arm at the same time.
The coordination can be a bit tricky.
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