by the late Chuck Sipes
Many, many fellows over the past few years have asked me about developing arms. As I perform my posing or strength routines, the question most often asked by an appreciative audience is, “How did you get those arms?”
Even though many of my strength feats do not call for overwhelming arm development, this area of my anatomy gets the query every time.
I suppose this is an American symptom, for overseas bodybuilders accuse this country of being arm-happy. Of course, foreign arm development as a whole is well below ours, so this could have a bit to do with it too.
Actually, I think it goes a lot deeper than this, and the appreciation of big, powerful arms is an American folk custom. By this I mean that this country was developed by the labors of all the various pioneers and explorers over the past 300-400 years.
As they pushed into the wilderness and afterwards, wresting a living from the land, these men had to work hard, work with their hands and arms and whole body, to get along. The settler, the village blacksmith, the lumberjack, the carpenter and builder . . . all needed powerful arms to ply their trade well, and in time those with the greatest, most powerful arms grew to be respected for their contributions.
Bodybuilding today, with the glorification of the entire, well-developed physique, is still influenced by this great American heritage to the extent that big arms and powerful arms are the most respected part of the body. Sometimes this fact is lost sight of in the race for pecs, lats, delts, etc. but it is there nonetheless.
Arm Strength and Size Go Together
The strength factor in arm training and training as a whole is lost sight of by some bodybuilders today. But without strength you cannot have maximum development. The more powerful you can become, the better developed you will also become.
This is especially true in the arm area, and one of the basic tenets of my arm training. Bodybuilders are so conscious of the bigness of things. Many of them concentrate just on pumping and forget the strength part. As I’ve trained and developed power for my strength feats, I’ve found that my development of size has kept pace with strength increases. Simple, but true. If you want more size, then go for strength.
But it is not as simple as “lift more weight, get bigger.” My feats involving great arm strength, such as breaking chains, bending spikes and the like, need the application of continuous arm strength over a period of time. It is this continuous application of power over a long period of time, the long holding of a contracted position, that differentiates my approach to arm training from that of other bodybuilders. And, I think my method certainly has been successful.
Too many bodybuilders are used to doing a rep, resting, then doing another rep . . . they don’t have that continuous application of power in training. I design my training to take advantage of this long period of holding tension, and do many exercises that involve constant tensing of the arm muscles, especially the biceps.
I’ve found that applying this strength principle to my workouts has resulted in greater power for my strength exhibitions, and greater size through working the muscle harder.
Anatomy and Importance
Many bodybuilders say the triceps is first in arm importance, saying it is the largest muscle in the arm. I rank the triceps last on my list. Why? An unimpressive, large but droopy and poorly shaped arm is not what I want. Besides, the triceps are not as important in my strength feats.
With the triceps last, next up the list with me is forearms. This muscular area of the arms is vital both to appearance – nothing is so unsightly as a big upper arm and a pair of sticks for forearms – and for gripping strength well developed forearms are essential. Every bodybuilder should work the forearms regularly as part of their workouts. I worked in sawmills and lumberjacking when I was younger, and this helped my development and strength quite a bit.
But, at the top of the list is the biceps area. The better developed and stronger your biceps are, the better off you will be physically. They should be #1 on your arm training list. Therefore, this arm development article will concentrate on developing this area, the biceps.
Note I said biceps area, for another important muscle vital for strength and development is located under the biceps. That is the brachialis. You should also include some work for this muscle in your biceps training, to make it as effective as possible. It will be worth your while.
My Arm Size and Power Routine
As I mentioned earlier, I feel continuous contractions are both beneficial and essential for power and clean-cut musculature. Because of this I design many of the biceps exercises I use to be continuous tension movements.
Also, to make sure I get full muscular shape as well as power and cuts, I also do movements that are complete extensions and contractions, with a bit of rest in between the reps. For the best benefit I superset one of these full-movement exercises with a continuous tension/continuous motion movement.
Super Set I
1.) Cheat Curls – 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps. I make this a real power movement, starting the weight with a slight lean-back, and curling it to the top with biceps power. Once at the top, I immediately start to SLOWLY lower the weight, fighting it all the way down, making the descent last as long as possible. Once it hits the thighs I don’t relax, but swing the weight up again immediately. This way I handle the utmost in weight while keeping the motion continuous from the beginning of the set to the end, no rest for the biceps at any time.
2.) Concentration Curls – 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps. To counterbalance the cheat curls, I do concentration curls, going through a full and complete extension and contraction of the biceps. Whit my elbow braced on the thigh, I bring a moderate weight up, stopping for an instant at the peak; lower it, relax for a moment, then start the next rep, all the while concentrating on guiding the biceps through a perfect path.
Super Set II
3.) Alternate Dumbell
Curls– 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps. I use the heaviest dumbells possible, and swing the weight a bit. Also, to add to the momentum, I swing one dumbell up, then as I’m lowering it I swing the mate up, so that both bells are going continuously from the beginning of the exercise to the end. Remember, maximum weight, swing the dumbells a bit, keep curling continuously until the end of the set.
4.) Incline Curl – 5 sets of 8 reps. To finish off my second superset, I go to incline curls, a great favorite of Steve Reeves. I do them slow and concentrated, with a moderate weight, bringing the elbow up slightly at the end of each rep. I bring one bell up as the other is going down, alternating, but go through a full correct exercise motion each rep, resting and refocusing for a moment at the bottom point of each rep. Maintain good form.
5.) Reverse Barbell Curl – 6 sets of 6 to 8 reps. This exercise, done properly and with the maximum weight you can handle, will really add power to the arm. Naturally, the overgrip limits the amount of weight you can properly handle, but you should still go for the maximum, in good clean style, and really work up the weights constantly.
My final comment is against what seems to be a common practice among eager lifters and bodybuilders who want fast gains. That is, to train like a demon and then live in a state of suspended animation, doing as little as humanly possible outside of the gym. This is such a poor practice psychologically, and equally foolish when it comes to recuperation and development.
You need constant circulation for best results, so light work and/or games are good. Of course rest is important, but your strength and muscle will not shrink away if you engage them in a little useful enterprise, and as I previously mentioned, working in the sawmills when I was young helped my strength immensely. Don’t worry about working or playing outside of your lifting routines as long as your barbell training keeps flowing along properly. Train hard, but remain involved in all facets of life.
by Mike Westerdal
You can do anything that anyone else has done. You can have anything that anyone else has. You can be anything that some else already is.
Why? Because they have already done it and therefore you know it can be done.
The only question left is how hard you are willing to work to get the same results?
Understand, I am not saying to be just like someone else here. You are a unique individual. No one else is like you and one of the worst things you can do is hide your individuality. I am saying that if there is something you want to have or be, a good way to get there is to make a study out of how other successful people did it.
Make a habit out of studying successful people and start doing what they did or what they advise.
Sure, there are some limitations.
You will probably not be able to play pro baseball or basketball if you are in your 50’s.
You probably won’t be elected President of the United States if you failed to graduate high school.
That does not, however, mean you cannot set lofty goals for yourself.
The habit of study comes after accepting responsibility and thinking about what it is you want to achieve.
In order to achieve great fitness and muscle building results, you must bridge the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be.
What this means is, you have to find a way to get from where you currently are to where you want to go.
It’s the same principle as using a road map. You use a map to get from Point A to Point B without driving blindly about trying to find your destination.
Learning to bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to go can be done more easily if you model, or copy, someone who has already achieved the things you want to achieve.
For example, say your best friend recently gained 20 pounds of muscle and looks great. Why not ask him how he did it and then, provided he gained the weight in a reasonable manner, copy what he did?
The first step in the process is that you must ask yourself, “Where am I currently?”
What needs to change? Am I too thin? What do I weigh? What do I think I should weigh? Is this reasonable?
What are my alternatives? If I don’t change now, can I spend another week, month, or year like I am right now?
How does my weight make me feel? Is my weight related to my feelings about myself? If so, what are those feelings? Are they justified?
Take a peek into the future. Where do you see yourself in 6 months or a year if you keep heading the in same direction you are now. Will your life be negatively affected?
What is it about my workout routine that is not producing results? What is it in my diet that is not working?
Self honesty is crucial here. Recognize that there must holes somewhere in your program. If there weren’t you’d be getting the results you want. Something is not working. It’s important evaluate yourself and see if you can’t identify where you’re falling short.
After you evaluate where you are, you know must then identify where you want to go.
Ask yourself questions like:
What do I want to weigh?
How do I want my clothes to fit?
How much energy would I like to have?
How strong do I want to be?
If I change for the better right now and start implementing a proper fitness program, what will I feel and look like in 6 months or a year? What size tshirts will I wear or what brand new clothes will I look better in?
How will you determine your success? It’s important to understand In crystal clear terms, what it is you want to achieve.
When you find that answer, you’ve found your destination. The clearer that destination is in your mind the easier it will be to plan your road.
To achieve fitness and muscle building success, you must bridge the gap that lies between where you are and where it is you want go.
Once you determine where it is you want to go, you need to make certain choices and certain decisions about how you will get there.
The quickest way to get there is to follow someone else who has already achieved what you want. Model your road after someone who has already figured out what works and what doesn’t.
You can have anything you want in life if you follow the path laid out by others who have achieved what you want. If you want to learn about the stock market, read a book by Warren Buffet. If you want to learn a new language, pick up a Spanish book.
I am going to help you with muscle building success. Not because I know everything there is to know about gaining muscle, but because I made the same choice you’re making now and have seen the end result of that choice and having carried it to it’s full fruition. The experience of others can save you a lot of time.
In developing the habit of studying it’s important to note that it’s not what you know that matters, it’s what you do that produces results.
Muscle gain is 80% behavior. It all comes down to the choices we make. In order to gain muscle weight you must first change your behavior. The purpose of studying is to educate you to what changes you need to make.
Analyze your own behavior. Compare it to others who have achieved your goals before you and decide what changes you need to make.
Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Now if you can answer yes to the question below click here to continue reading.
by Mike Westerdal
Many women shy away from the idea of building muscle because they are afraid they’ll ‘bulk-up’ and look like one of the female competitive bodybuilders that used to come out of the former U.S.S.R. Fortunately, that’s just a myth. Women who lift weights to build muscle do not instantly turn into masculine-looking hulks bulging with muscle.
However, despite years of strong evidence to the contrary, the myth persists and countless women refuse to lift a weight out of fear of bulking up. It’s time to set the record straight once and for all.
Whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, resistance training is one of the greatest gifts we can give not just our bodies, but our minds and spirits as well. Let me explain why. First, muscles only get bigger and stronger when they encounter some sort of resistance. Without resistance, muscles may get ‘toned’ but they will never increase in size or strength. The muscle growth occurs as a result of the muscle cells’ reaction to the stress placed upon them by the resistance—free weights, dumbbells, machines or even body weight.
When the muscle cells encounter resistance they send signals to the central nervous system, which then releases a flood of hormones into the bloodstream. This sets off a chain reaction that serves to better prepare the muscle cells for the next time they face the same resistance. In this case ‘better prepared’ means the muscles are bigger and/or stronger. That’s why the next time you use the same resistance it is a little bit easier than it was the time before. To push the muscle to continue to get bigger and/or stronger, you need to challenge it even more by either increasing the resistance (weight) or reducing the rest time between sets.
This is where the myth that says that women who build muscle will wind up looking like female linebackers. Fortunately, that’s just not true. Unless a woman has a particular goal of joining the NFL, building muscle can produce a number of life-enhancing benefits without bulking her up. Basically, strength training to build muscle for women offers the same benefits as it does for men. These benefits include changing the appearance of the body,
reducing body fat, lowering the risk of injury and boosting overall health.
Though healthy eating habits combined with an aerobic exercise regimen will slim down a woman’s body, there’s no better way for a woman to transform her physique than by building muscle through strength training. Besides being a quick and effective way for a woman to tone and sculpt her body, strength training offers many other benefits, making it an essential element to overall health and fitness.
Among women, a regular resistance training routine—combined with a proper, healthy diet—will increase muscle mass. But let’s make it clear that this does not mean that a woman’s body will bulk up.
The fact is that when a woman increases the amount of lean muscle mass she has, her body requires more energy to maintain the muscle. Fat burns fewer calories than muscle mass—even when the muscles are at rest. So by increasing muscle mass a woman can boost the number of calories she burns throughout the day and lose weight while shedding unwanted extra body fat. In addition, because of the fact that muscle takes up less space than fat, her body will be more toned.
There are a number of other important benefits that result from women building muscle. Besides burning more calories throughout the day, a regular, consistent resistance training program gives you more energy throughout the day. Exercise—weight training in particular—also stimulates the release of endorphins, which elevate the mood and increase self-esteem and self-confidence. Improved health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems are other important benefits for women. Lastly, the process of building muscle increases joint flexibility, balance and coordination, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
It’s clear that there are many benefits that arise when women start building muscle. The only real potential downside arises from improper training techniques and bad form. A woman who has never lifted weights might want to consider consulting a professional to learn the proper way to train and assist her in developing a diet and exercise routine that’s right for her. If you’re still concerned about building up read this follow up article entitled, “5 Muscle Toning Myths You Must Stop Believing“