biceps can be, at the very same time, one of the
most rewarding and most frustrating muscle groups
in the body...rewarding because who doesn't want
to have great biceps! Frustrating because it can
be extremely difficult to make them great!
about to change! I'm going to share with you a
technique that I came up with very recently that
hits the biceps so effectively, you'll have trouble
reaching up to scratch your nose without shaking.
technique is called an In-Set Superset. In a previous
issue of BetterU News, I wrote an article about
Superset training that explained
this technique using triceps as an example.
are, in a nutshell, when you do two exercises
in a row without taking any rest inbetween, e.g.
bench press then immediately to flyes. The purpose
of this is to increase the stress to the target
muscle. The In-Set Superset is slightly different
than a regular Superset in that you alternate
single reps of two different exercises WITHIN
example I used for triceps was combining Lying
Triceps Extensions with Close Grip Bench Press.
Basically, you would do one rep of the extension
then immediately do one rep of the press, then
extension, then press, etc., until you couldn't
do any more extensions with the weight. You would
then finish by burning out on the presses until
you couldn't do any more reps. This blows the
triceps up like crazy!
those exercises are very easy to transition between.
You don't have to move anything or do anything
to go from one to the other. And, they're different
enough to stress the triceps from different angles.
biceps, it's a bit trickier as there are not many
exercises that are practical to switch between
AND which are different enough to stress the bicep
muscle fibers differently than just two types
The solution: Barbell Curls and Close Grip Chin-Ups.
we're going to do is alternate between doing a
Barbell Curl (with an Olympic bar) then using
that same barbell as a Chin-Up bar to do the chins
on. The best place to perform this technique is
in the power rack (a dip station can work if you
don't have a rack available).
the rack, set the racking hooks (the small hooks
that you set the bar on for the start of an exercise)
at about shoulder height. Set a bar on those hooks
and load it with a weight you could curl for about
10 to 12 reps. If you're using the dip station,
set the bar on top of the dipping bars (everything
else about the execution is exactly the same -
you're just using the dip bars instead of the
racking hooks to support the barbell).
stand directly in front of the bar (you should
be inside the rack), step underneath it and turn
around. You should be standing outside the rack
facing in. The direction you face here is critical
for the most natural execution of the two exercises.
the bar with about a shoulder-width grip (we don't
want a wide grip for the chins - also, the closer
grip is better for biceps activation on barbell
the bar off the hooks and do a single barbell
removing your grip from the bar, set it back down
in the hooks, lift your feet off the ground and
pull them up into a cross-legged position in front
of you. This position is necessary to keep your
feet and knees from touching the ground during
yourself down until your arms are straight then
pull yourself back up. Keep your torso vertical
to maximize the tension on the biceps (this is
one of the other benefits of the cross-legged
position - holding your legs up in front of you
keeps your torso vertical without even trying).
you are unable to do chin-ups on your own, here's
another great benefit of this exercise - you can
keep your feet on the floor and use your legs
to spot yourself as you come up! Just make sure
that you're using as much bicep tension as possible
and only using your legs just enough to keep the
your feet down and helping with your legs is also
VERY valuable for stronger trainers as the biceps
start to give out. You can really push your biceps
hard by helping out with your legs as much as
you need to.
the top of the chin, set your feet back down on
the floor, and without releasing your grip on
the bar, immediately go into the next rep of the
this process until you can't do any more barbell
curls in good form (it is permissible to use a
bit of swinging to get a few "cheat"
reps of the barbell curl to really push your biceps
to the limit). When you're finished on barbell
curls, you can either stop with your final chin-up
rep or burn out with as many chin-ups as you can
this point, I can promise that your biceps will
be screaming! The emergency response from your
body will send a rush of blood to your arms, resulting
in one of the strongest pumps you'll ever experience.
You will probably also find that your grip is
being VERY strongly worked as well.
addition, if you want to try this exercise from
another angle and target brachialis development,
do reverse-grip barbell curls alternated with
reverse-grip chin-ups. You will need to lighten
the weight to perform the reverse curls but the
execution is exactly the same.
can even alternate between sets of regular grip
In-Set Supersets with sets of reverse-grip In-Set
Supersets (resting in between Supersets, of course).
When you're done and you can't touch your nose
because your biceps are so pumped up, you'll only
have me to blame.
of the main reasons this technique works so well
is that you are going from a strong isolation
exercise for the biceps (the Barbell Curl) immediately
into a compound exercise for the biceps (when
doing the chins, the back works with the biceps
to complete the movement). Your back will help
push your biceps to a whole new level!
this technique a try in your next biceps workout.
As a person who has had to overcome poor genetics
for biceps, I can tell you from experience, this
exercise combination will make a HUGE difference
in how your biceps respond to training.
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