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The Best Exercise Supersets to Pump Up Your Biceps


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Flexing bicep muscle

Patrik Giardino / Getty

Most guys tend to work their biceps with something else, dedicating a day to biceps and triceps or perhaps chest and arms.

But there’s nothing wrong with spending a full workout training for the gun show. Plus, there’s no reason to feel guilty about it. For all the talk over the last decade about training for functional movement and core strength—not just like a bodybuilder for aesthetics—there’s been little appreciation of the functional role of the biceps.

Try lifting a couch or kid without the biceps—or pushing or pulling just about anything. Sure, movement starts from the core, but your arms aren’t just levers along for the ride. The biceps are fully engaged guns, locked and loaded.

Even if you’re a dedicated CrossFit disciple or an athlete training for a specific sport, there’s nothing wrong with taking an occasional workout to focus on your biceps. If nothing else, it’s a welcome diversion—and the best workout is, of course, the one you haven’t done before or at least not in some time.

In this biceps superset workout, we’ll pair a push and a pull movement. This way we both activate and challenge the biceps in an efficient manner that enables us to keep moving through the workout with no rest.

Pete Williams is a N.A.S.M.-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.

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1. Dynamic Pushup and Chinup

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1A. DYNAMIC PUSHUP

WHY IT WORKS: By exploding on the upward movement, you hit the biceps harder.

HOW TO DO IT: Slowly lower yourself down, then explode up as hard as you can. The upward movement should take no longer than 1 second.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps.

1B. CHINUPS

WHY IT WORKS: Like the overhead pullup, the chinup is a terrific shoulders and back exercise to build that V-shaped torso. But by doing the underhanded chinup, we place more emphasis on the biceps.

HOW TO DO IT: Grab the bar with an underhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body up and build momentum. Finish by pulling up with your arms.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps (or as many as you can if less than 10).


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2. Suspension Trainer Pushups and Suspension Trainer Curls

TRX suspension trainer curls

TRX suspension trainer curls / Getty

2A. SUSPENSION TRAINER PUSHUPS

WHY IT WORKS: The instability of the trainer forces you to recruit more muscles, and the biceps play a prominent role. Plus, by pairing it with suspension trainer curls, we can keep things moving.

HOW TO DO IT: Feet on the ground, assume pushup position grabbing the handles. Lower, and push up.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps.

2B. SUSPENSION TRAINER CURLS

WHY IT WORKS: With your bodyweight as resistance, this move hits the biceps hard.

HOW TO DO IT: Grab the suspension trainer handles with both hands. Lean back to fully extend your arms. With feet shoulder-width apart and back straight, use your arms to pull yourself up (toward the trainer) by performing a curl. Bend the elbows and curl the handles close to your shoulders; use the biceps instead of your upper arms.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps.


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3. Racked Farmer’s Carry and Inverted Bar R

Inverted Row

Per Bernal / M+F Magazine

3A. RACKED FARMER’S CARRY

WHY IT WORKS: The traditional farmer’s carry is an effective full-body move that also challenges endurance as you increase distance carried. By carrying the dumbbells in a racked position (heads of dumbbells at shoulder-level) we isolate the biceps.

HOW TO DO IT: Carrying the dumbbells in a racked position, walk for 30 seconds, carefully avoiding the oblivious earbud zombies not paying attention in your gym.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 30 seconds.

3B. INVERTED BAR ROWS

WHY IT WORKS: This provides many of the benefits of a pullup while better isolating the biceps.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie underneath a bar that’s several feet above you, such as in a squat rack. Hang underneath the bar with heels on the ground and arms fully extended. Pull your chest toward the bar. Pause at top, and return to starting position.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps.


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4. Four-in-one Biceps Curl and Plank

Eccentric Barbell Biceps Curl

Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty

4A. FOUR-IN-ONE BICEPS CURL

WHY IT WORKS: This challenging four-in-one curl variation hits your biceps from all angles.

HOW TO DO IT: Start with light weight on a barbell and curl eight times. Next, curl halfway, pausing for a second just above your navel at each rep. After that, take the bar all the way up and descend just below your pecs, again pausing for a second before returning for eight reps. Finally, do eight more full reps.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets

4B. PLANK

WHY IT WORKS: This promotes overall core stability, but your biceps are keeping you in proper position. Plus, after doing the four-in-one curl, this will seem like a break.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie in a prone pushup position with hands on the floor, elbows under shoulders and bent 90°. Push up off your elbows, tucking your chin so your head is in line with your body. Keep your head in line with your spine, and belly button drawn in. Hold for one minute.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 60 seconds.


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5. Dive-bomber Pushup and Prone-grip Pullup

Bodybuilder doing pullups

MRBIG_PHOTOGRAPHY / Getty

5A. DIVE-BOMBER PUSHUP

WHY IT WORKS: This pushup variation requires more use of the biceps and shoulders.

HOW TO DO IT: Start with hips in the air and feet shoulder-width apart. Lower head and shoulders down as if going under a bar. As you push your head and shoulders into position, arch your back. Reverse process to return to starting position.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps.

5B. PRONE-GRIP PULLUPS

WHY IT WORKS: Though best known as a back movement, you’re also hitting the biceps, along with the shoulders and chest.

HOW TO DO IT: Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body up and build momentum. Finish by pulling up with your arms.

PRESCRIPTION: 2 sets of 10 reps (or as many as possible).

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