Archive for December, 2008

Barbell Curls And Muscle Building

There are a wide variety of exercises you can perform to build muscle and strength train and each one of these exercises has its limitations and drawbacks. The most common exercise for developing the bicep muscle is barbell curls. As with most other bodybuilders, I started off by doing scores of bicep curls in the hopes of developing my biceps. Barbell curls and bicep development after all seem to just go hand in hand. Through the process of trial and error I discovered that barbell curls have limitations when it comes to bicep development.

The typical weight lifter performs barbell curls in a free standing position. A free standing position means you are standing free of any other forms of support such as a wall or a bench. A free standing position means your muscles have the freedom to sway during each repetition and this reduces concentration on each muscle. The point of a muscle building exercise is to concentrate the force of the weight on to the group of muscles being exercised.

The free standing position reduces this concentration and the result is that your muscles are not fully exercised. The simple solution to the free standing problem is to place your back against a wall during each repetition or to sit on a bench with a barbell in each hand. Eliminating the free standing position from your workout can make an enormous difference on your muscular development. If your gym is like mine then you’ll likely find that standing against a wall during your exercise is simply not feasible. If this is the case then consider using a seat with an adjustable back rest which just about every gym has.

It’s not uncommon for barbell curls to result in pain deep within the forearms and biceps. There is a big difference between the pain caused by lactic acid and the pain caused by not doing an exercise properly. While many bodybuilders may be able to perform barbell curls with little discomfort, this is not the case for most bodybuilders. The solution to the problem is actually a very easy one. Instead of using the standard bar, consider using the easy-curl bar. The easy curl bar can be identified by the sharp twists in the bar itself.

In addition to excessive pain and lack of concentration, perhaps the biggest problem associated with barbell curls is the inherent limited angle of resistance. This means that if your bicep exercises consist primarily or exclusively of barbell curls then you are missing out on additional angles of resistance. For proper muscle development your bicep exercise regimen should heavily incorporate dumbbells. Combining dumbbell and barbell exercises will inevitably have a profound effect on your bicep development.

Gaining Weight For Muscle Development

Currently in the US, 66.3% of the adult population over the age of 20 is overweight. It’s somewhat ironic that the more athletic members of the population require weight gain as a means of developing muscle. But many weight lifters find it difficult to gain weight, unlike the two-thirds of the population who apparently find the process very easy. Gaining weight for the purpose of building muscle can actually be just as much work for most athletes as building muscle. But with dedication and effort it is possible to gain the weight necessary for substantial muscular development.

There is a lot of disinformation out there about how athletes should eat in order to gain weight. Just about every fitness enthusiast on the internet thinks they are some kind of nutrition expert and they have a tendency to tell others what they should be eating. If you are an athlete who is strength training your ideal diet should be high in calories and high in protein. Your exercise regimen should also help speed up the weight gain process in order to help you retain your weight gains. A few sessions spent with a personal trainer at your health club can help you develop the right diet and exercise combination to meet your needs.

Many weightlifters, such as myself, have found that weight gaining supplements are a relatively easy way to incorporate more calories and protein into their regular diets. But not all weight gainer supplements are created equal and they can vary widely based on price, protein quality, and nutritional content. Weight gainers also have a tendency to not taste very good and some can be downright awful. It’s a good idea to try a few different weight gainers before deciding on a specific one. Because weigh gainers typically come in oversized containers some vitamin stores allow you to purchase smaller trial sizes. This is highly recommended and can prevent you from spending your hard earned money on something you can’t drink.

Sleeping a minimum of 8 hours each night is something that many weightlifters don’t do and yet proper sleep is one of the easiest means of gaining and retaining weight necessary for muscular development. Of course for sleep to be of any benefit your diet needs to be rich in the proper nutrients. You should try to avoid fatty foods like the plague including candies, sweets, and most fast food items. Eating foods high in fat will certainly allow you to gain weight but not the kind of weight that will enable you to build lean muscle.

No matter what supplements you take or what kind of workout you engage in you must increase your food consumption during the day in order gain more weight. You can also maximize your weight gains by eating a large meal one hour before bedtime.

Working Out With Dumbbells

There are a wide variety of exercises available to facilitate your muscular development and of these by far the best are free weight training exercises. Free weight exercises offer increased muscular development as opposed to nautilus style machines because of the additional resistance these machines place on supporting muscles. Dumbbell exercises are a kind of free weight exercise that has been around for a very long time. In fact, dumbbells are the world’s oldest known work out instrument and can be traced back several thousand years to ancient times. Dumbbells offer a reliable and effective means of building muscle.

Like most other free weight exercises, dumbbells facilitate muscle growth by placing resistance on stabilizing and supporting muscles. As compared to nautilus machines and even body weight exercises, dumbbells offer a much greater range of motion and actually mimic natural body motion. Greater range of motion and broader muscle resistance mean substantial muscle gains, one reason that dumbbells have been around as long as they have. Utilizing dumbbells during workouts allows you to target specific areas of the body more effectively than would ordinarily be possible.

Use of dumbbells during a workout requires strict safety considerations. Because dumbbells are free weights there is always the possibility of injury from a dropped or mishandled weight. Before handling dumbbells it’s always a good idea to do some muscle warm ups in order to loosen and condition each muscle. Accidents are much more likely to happen when your muscles have not been properly warmed up. To warm your muscles up before using dumbbells, try lifting a weight that allows you to do a minimum of fifteen repetitions. In addition, try basic warm up exercises such as stretches and extensions. Using a spotter during a dumbbell workout can also greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Most people commonly associate dumbbells with the triceps and biceps but in reality dumbbells are effective on many of the bodies muscle groups. A common exercise for working out the biceps is the hammer curl, which also has the distinction of being one of my favorite exercises. To perform the hammer curl, grip a dumbbell in each arm that will allow you to do at least six repetitions. Grip the weight in such a way that the weights are facing up and down instead of side to side. With your elbows held tight against your body, curl each weight towards you in a ‘hammer’ like motion. Try lifting each weight one at a time instead of simultaneously to reduce fatigue.

There are many other exercises that can be performed with dumbbells such as shoulder press, chest flies, bench rows, and lunges. Not all of these dumbbell exercises will be right for your particular workout regimen, but you should incorporate at least one dumbbell exercise. Always remember to warm up before lifting dumbbells and never attempt to lift a weight that is too heavy for you.