Two tickets for this summer’s gun show? Yes please
Five simple training tweaks that will let you put on your own gun show
1 Curl to your shoulder
Four-time Mr Universe, sometime Governator and noodle-arm-terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been a stickler for good form. With the biceps curl, that means flexing and extending fully at the top and bottom. Any lateral movement away from the line between your hand and shoulder is a cardinal sin – if you move your hand in or out a fraction, you’ll ease the tension on your biceps and stay closer to the noodle zone. And squeeze at the top.
2 Go heavier than you can lift
You can do this and still follow the sound advice to “leave your ego at the door” – the key is to cheat the concentric (lifting) part of a lift and then focus on the eccentric (lowering) phase. A study at the University of Florida found that neglecting the eccentric phase could cut your gains in half. So, instead, try overloading it. On your final set pick a weight you’d struggle to lift fully, get help hefting it to the top of the move from a spotter, then dig in and lower the weight as slowly as you can. Take a breath and repeat, five times minimum.
3 Shoot for a ton
Three-time America’s Strongest Man victor Derek Poundstone was renowned for his pain-tolerance training. He’d do a century of curls with just the 20kg bar, learning to handle the searing lactate in his biceps so he could work harder with other lifts while also sparking a huge surge of hypertrophy for his atlas stone-wielding arms. What can you do? Pick a weight that forces you to fail at 60 reps. Repeat weekly until you hit the 100kg jackpot, then add 2kg and repeat.
4 Press pause for muscle
Fly through your reps and you’re missing out on 5% more muscle through sheer haste, according to a study in the Journal Of Applied Physiology. To recruit your maximum amount of motor units, pause in the middle of a curl or triceps pull-down at the point of maximum tension for as long as you can handle. Best save it for the final rep.
5 Go large, then little
Pre-exhaust your bis and tris with big-boy moves first. That means using multi-joint compound lifts like chin-ups and bench presses to pre-fatigue your arms before immediately following up with lighter single-joint lifts like curls and skullcrushers. It’s a method advocated by Matt Bryzcki, co-ordinator of recreational fitness and wellness programming at Princeton University. Brains plus brawn equals gains.