Tired of getting sand kicked in your face! Want Biceps like a real man? Let me show you how to get jacked for summer! Although you will not build all that much of “real muscle” in 6 weeks or so, you can condition and firm your muscles and add blood flow enough to appear “jacked”. The firmness and added blood flow will give you the appearance of “bigger muscles”. It is not that I want you to stop at that; I wish all of you would continue weight training to slowly add real muscle mass progressively over the years. Weight training is great for you, certainly underestimated by many health “experts”, and has great positive externalities. You will look better, sexier, and your general state of health will be substantially improved. This program will quickly get you jacked for summer and, more importantly, may start you on a more serious program of weight training that will yield fantastic long-term results along with a marked improvement in physical health!
Some Basic Concepts:
A very basic and simple point: don’t kill yourself! If you haven’t been inside of a gym in years, or especially if you don’t know what the inside of a gym looks like, please don’t kill yourself! Start slow the first week. Use light weights and take it easy for the first two sessions. If I had a nickel for ever time I saw some idiot going gun ho the first day and then being barely being able to move for the next two weeks, I would be up about $100,000 by now! The first week go real slow and light. One session, rest a day, another session, then rest two days. The second week every other day for three sessions, then rest two days. The second week start going a little heavier. The third week on go harder and exercise every other day. Rest every other day and eat well. Good rest and good nutrition are as important as the workout; you need to know this!
Reps and Poundage:
Start very light to condition your muscles for the first few sessions. It’s not that you have to be too wimpish either, just use some good judgment. If you are sore the next day then it will slow you down for the next few sessions. So you don’t gain anything by overdoing it; you lose precious time! After the first week you can get into some heavier weights. Use enough weight so that you can do about ten reps without killing yourself. You don’t want to be too easy either; so ten reps at that weight should exhaust your muscles. Remember an essential point: if you don’t feel the exhaustion on the particular muscle after a particular exercise then you did not properly work the muscle!
Supersets and Alternates:
A very important lesson to understand! This is an advanced technique, which will go a long way to get you jacked in a short amount of time! A “superset” is simply two or more sets of different exercises done back to back with little or no rest in between. Once you understand how to work this idea into your program, you will be impressed with the effectiveness in giving your muscles a great overall workout and a tremendous pump. “Alternates” are simply supersets which somehow involve opposing muscle groups. Supersets of alternates are great in doing arms!!! Superset bicep exercises with triceps. Do a set of curls, take a brief 15 – 20 second rest to catch your breath, then immediately do a set of triceps. Take a longer 60 – 90 second rest then repeat. Do this for three to five supersets. This works really well for arms.
The arm, biceps in particular, are what many people think of when the think of muscular development. Arms are important but of course not all important. In bodybuilding you should strive for a good all around build. We will focus on three areas of arm development: biceps, triceps, and the forearm.
This is generally the best exercise for jacked up biceps, but there are several variations to know.
Alternate Dumbbell curls: You can do these standing or sitting. I recommend the seated variation because it tends to reduce the tendency of swinging your arms to raise the weight and of bending the back to swing the weights. This is a method of “cheating” which is not recommended. Sitting, therefore, reduces the tendency to cheat in the lift. Pick up the dumbbells with each hand and sit on a flat bench with your back straight. With palms facing inward, lift one dumbbell toward your shoulder. As you lift, turn your wrist gradually toward the front so that when you reach the top position, your palm is facing directly at your shoulder. This gradual turning of the wrist gives the forearm a workout as you work the bicep. After you reach the top, slowly lower the arm back to the relaxed position, again turning the wrist in the process. Remember: let you bicep do all the work, don’t swing the back and don’t try to use momentum is swinging the weights. As you bring the weight of one hand toward its lowest position, begin to raise the other weight. Do this alternately for the desired reps and for the desired sets.
This essentially works the same muscles. So why do both? Because each different exercise involving the same muscle group will put a slightly different stress on the muscle. The muscle adapts according to the principle of adaptive stress. I intend to discuss this principle in a future article – I hope you will look for it! Suffice to say for now that any progress made in weight training is due to the body’s ability to adapt to stresses put on it by external forces; in the gym as well as in nature. By purposely stressing the body in a particular way we are able to achieve a certain result. In other words, we lift heavy weights and the body adapts by becoming bigger and stronger.
Stand in front of a straight bar with feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Bend to lift to bar. REMEMBER: always bend the knees when lifting heavy weight to ease the strain on the lower back!!! With palms facing forward, grip the bar – this is what is known as a “curl grip”. Slowly straighten your legs, lifting the bar “with your legs”. Now, standing with your back straight, lift the bar using your biceps only. Be careful not to swing the weight or bend the back. Lift slowly then hold for two seconds, lower the bar slowly keeping your back perfectly straight! Do this for the desired reps and for the desired sets.
Now for the advanced stuff! Start these the third week into the program. In order to do these you need to have what is known as a curl bar, a shorter slightly bent bar used for curls. You also need what is known as a preacher bench. This is a small seat with slanted padding in front and a small slot in front of the padding to rest the bar. Most gyms have these in the fee-weight room. If you don’t have access to one you can skip this altogether. Load the bar with the desired weight and place it in the slot in front of the bench. Pick up the bar from the seated position or if you cannot reach it stand then sit. Rest your arms on the front padding while holding the weight. Now slowly lift the weight until your biceps are fully flexed. Hold for two seconds, and then slowly lower the weight. Repeat for the desired reps and for the desired sets. Preacher Curls are great because it is very difficult to cheat by swinging your body or by using “body English”. Do enough of these and I guarantee your arms will be jacked in no time!
For this exercise you will need a Universal machine or a machine specifically made for this exercise. Most gyms will have one or the other. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart at the machine with the desired weight loaded. Grip the handle. Keep your back straight and your arms at your side. Now pull the weight by bending your elbows until your arms are fully extended. Let your triceps do all the work! Hold for two seconds. SLOWLY return the weight by raising your forearms again at the elbow.
Please remember: the upper arms stay rigid and motionless at your side, move only your elbows! That way you isolate the triceps in the exercise. I have seen too many people do this incorrectly! Do this for the desired reps and for the desired sets.
Don’t let the name scare you! For this you need the curl bar again. Lying on your back on a flat bench with the weighted bar on the floor by your head, reach down and grip the bar with on overhand grip and bring the weight directly over your head with your arms fully extended. Now, keeping you upper arms pointing upwards, bend your elbows bringing the weight down toward your head. The bottom position should bring the bar about a half-inch above the bridge of your nose. Now extend your elbows back to the top position While doing this exercise, you should keep your upper arms reasonably straight, though you may bend them back slightly In the bottom position. Repeat for the desired reps and for the desired sets.
This can be done with either dumbbells or a long barbell. Although I mostly do them with dumbbells, I recommend you use both methods. It is a good thing to generally mix your program from time to time to prevent your body from becoming too conditioned to a single routine. Sitting on a bench lift the dumbbells or barbell off the floor with a curl grip. Resting your forearms on your knees, perform curls with your wrist. With palms facing upward simply bend the wrist as far as you comfortably can. Repeat for the desired reps and for the desired sets. Alternate and superset this exercise with the one below.
Knell in front of a flat bench resting your forearms on the bench with a light dumbbell in each hand, your hands with the dumbbells hanging off the opposite edge of the bench. Now simply twist your wrist from side to side repeatedly until they are exhausted. Do this exercise first, then take a short rest and go immediately to a set of wrist curls. After a longer rest repeat this superset a few more times.
So much for the arms. Follow this program and by the sixth week in I guarantee you will be noticeably jacked! Keep in mind, of course, that we have only discussed arms. We still need to get into the proper way to train other parts of the body. I do intend to get deeper into these maters in future articles. Please watch for my next article for some great tips on doing shoulders, pecks and back.