Curl Your Body Weight
If you've been to any gym, you've no doubt seen people working out with curling bars that have 15 lbs on each side. The bar and collars on an Olympic bar set weigh 15 lbs, so that's a total load of 45 lbs. And, it seems like an impressive load. After all, they are leaning back, using momentum, and generally cheating to lift it!
Well, what's really impressive is when you can curl half or more of your total body weight with one arm--without using momentum or your lower back to make up for a lack of muscle strength. You can do that without taking steroids. This article explains what you need to know.
Given the structural upper body strength differences between men and women, the stated goal of this article is primarily for men. But women can vastly increase their upper body strength and improve their overall appearance by following the tips presented here. Women with the right genes may even be able to curl their own body weight. Some men, despite their best efforts, lack the genetic potential to ever curl their own body weight.
But most women will be able to do an impressive curl that the typical male gym rat cannot do. And most men will be able to curl their own body weight. Now, let's get to it.
You first need to know the elements of the task at hand. They are:
Of all the above factors, you can affect only four:
Let's look at each of these.
Your body weight
This site has articles elsewhere on how to achieve your best body weight. If you look at climbers, they have very lean bodies--body fat levels of 5% are common. Elite climbers have specialized muscle development--small legs, for example. To curl your own body weight, you do not need specialized muscle development. You need only to get rid of the extra fat.
The strength of your upper back
Why people do not work their backs is a real mystery. Your arms will not develop past the limit set by the development of your back. If you aren't developing your back, then arm curls are a waste of time. Keep in mind that a well-developed back is what gives you presence and stature. It also gives you functional strength.
The strength of your arms
I work back and biceps on the same day. I'll provide you with my routine, below. Note that if you want strong arms, you need to raise your testosterone output. Doing front squats is my preferred way to do this. If you do nothing but squats, your arms will grow. If you do nothing but curls, your arms will not grow.
Your curling technique
You may develop enough power to curl half your body weight without this technique. If so, you have rare genetics. Don't expect this technique to be the easy way to reach your goal. When I first began using this technique, I was able to curl one-quarter of my body weight with one hand. It took me years of training to reach one-third. And, it took years after that to pass the one-half mark.
The technique is basically a matter of pulling the weight up and down across your body instead of up and down out to the side or out in front. This takes your lower back out of the motion, and also takes pressure off your shoulder joint. You can lift more because you don't have to stabilize the arm with opposing muscles, and you recruit the upper back to help complete the motion. Let's try to describe this for the left hand.
Notice, you are moving the weight across your body instead of out to the side. So, a curl with the left arm moves toward the right shoulder--not the left shoulder.
If you want to cheat, you simply rotate your upper body (preferably from the hips) as you complete the motion. But that's not really curling. It's more like golfing with weights instead of clubs. Personally, I think doing this makes a person look like an idiot.
My back and biceps workout
This workout is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. It is brutal. It gets results.
You will need the following equipment:
Because I want to maximize the development of my back (upper back) and biceps, I show them no mercy. I do three workouts for this muscle group on the same day--morning, afternoon, and evening. Another component to this is rest--more details on that, later in this article.
If you think my veins are standing out and my arms are pumped by the time I'm done, you are right!
Afternoon and evening
Depending on how well my arms have voided their lactic acid, I attack them twice more. Typically, this involves a set or two of each of the exercises I did in the AM. I eat immediately afterwards--again, with extra glutamine and creatine. With these "follow-up" workouts, I will also do isometrics--just posing and pumping.
And there are some days when I do just the morning workout.
For the next few days, my arms feel blitzed. It takes at least three days to recover from such a workout. If you are one of those folks who "works out" MWF and hits all the muscle groups each of those three days, don't use this approach. First of all, your whole workout program is limiting you. Second, you will hit arms too frequently. I do three upper body workouts (back/biceps, chest/triceps, shoulders) on a four-day rotation. So if I do this arm workout on a Sunday, I will next do it the following Saturday. I will not do it on a Monday and then attempt to do it the next Wednesday--that is simply overtraining.
So, now you have all of the elements of developing an awesome curling ability. Most people have the genetics to do this. The big question for you is, do you have the moxie to make it happen? Don't forget, you need to do those squats, if you want truly impressive arms. And squats are tough. Are you?
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The articles on this site are authoritative, because:
Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.
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