Bigger Arms, Better Abs, and SMARTer Goals
Bigger Arms, Better Abs, and SMARTer Goals
One of the most talked about subjects in fitness is unsurprisingly appearance. Most people on the gym floor are there because they’re seeking a change in the physical body as often (if not more than) they’re after a change in their health or lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with this per say, but it’s important to recognize what fitness practices really provide us with the results we’re after in the long term. If you’re trying to develop the physique of a swimmer or a runner for example, it’s best to get into the pool or hit the road, but if you’re after a bodybuilder’s aesthetic, then you’re better off following a genuine body sculpting routine.
With that being said, it’s critical that your goals for your new body have a few specific traits. Above all, they must be realistic. If you’re just starting out in the weight room for the first time, and you’re in your mid twenties, you can’t expect yourself to turn around in two months and have cuts like a body model. It’s physically possible, but so is being born with six toes on each foot. So instead of crying over the six pack you’re not seeing in week three, allow yourself up 16-20 weeks to see a change in your body’s composition. This may sound like a terribly long time to wait, but studies have shown that the actual threshold for developing a more permanent change is nothing less than six months of continuous commitment to a training program.
Once you fully understand that change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s time to get SMART. The American College of Sports Medicine promotes a system for goal setting that has been extensively studied to maximize followthrough and eventual success. Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Relevant, and Timed. These five elements, when put into effect, give you a priceless advantage over your fitness challenges.
It’s a simple as the words you use to set these goals. For example, instead of saying “I want big arms and a really cut chest”, try “I’m going to give myself three months to grow my biceps, triceps, and drop my body fat percentage by at least fifteen percent.” By making better, more identifiable goals, you guarantee better results. And, even if you fail, instead of struggling to identify what on earth went wrong, you can easily look back at the details of your programmed goals and see what needs to be changed (maybe instead of just saying ‘bigger’, giver yourself a target like 2 more inches of growth in your arms, and dropping 3-4 inches from your waistline).
Now that you have this guiding idea for effective goal setting, its time to build up your workout toolkit. Below, I’ve outlined three exercise modalities that are proven to be effective additions to any workout to build your arms.
This widely popular method of Bicep curls is used to shape each part of the biceps independently through a powerful combination of overload and endurance. Since your arm goes through two main ranges during a bicep curl, this method pushes the muscle through three phases: the lower half, the upper half, and then ending with a full contraction. Start with seven “half reps” from the bottom of the movement, reaching the middle, then immediately moving into half reps from the middle to the top of the movement, where your arms are fully flexed. Then, without stopping, finish with another seven full reps.
This brutal method is well known for by it’s other name –pyramid sets– and focuses on either steadily increasing weight while decreasing reps, or increasing weight and decreasing reps with little to no rest in between. Gauntlets will require a lot of dumbbells, so have your weights lined up and ready to go before you hop in. REMEMBER that even the world’s elite body builders only jump about 5 pounds each time they go up and down the pyramid, so if you’re starting at 20 pounds, have the 25s,30s, and 35s ready to go.
Extended Eccentric Contractions
Eccentric contractions are the part of every lift where the weight being lifted overcomes the power of the lift. Simply put, the second half of the bicep curl. Instead of dropping down fast after completing a rep, take 4-5 seconds coming back down to increase your muscle’s time under tension.
And just for good measure here’s a few more for your abs:
Weighted Long-Arm Crunches
This move is great for adding some resistance to an all-too familiar move. Lying on a mat with your arms extended out in front of you with knees bent, hold a reasonably heavy weight (something you can successfully curl with one arm) with both hands. Slowly bring your upper body off the mat, focusing on raising your shoulders and upper back, and focus on the contraction in your upper abdominals. It’s better to try this with a single weight than one in each hand when you’re just starting out to allow you’re arms and torso to remain stable during the movement.
One Leg or Spiderman Push-Ups
Push-up Variations that require additional stabilization are a valuable resource for building core strength. If bringing your knee under your body during a push-up sounds gruesome, try simply keeping one foot elevated during each rep. You’ll still feel the impact.
Exercise Ball Pull-In
This will require an inflatable exercise ball (also called a Swiss ball), and a decent amount of arm endurance. Placing your feet on the ball with your hands out in front of you, palms flat in an elevated push-up position, pull your knees into your stomach, focusing on contracting your abs. Then, maintaining the tension in your core, push your feet back out using your abs.
These are just some of the hundreds of moves available for training, and we love them because they push us a little out of our comfort zone. Have a different preferred workout? Let us know in the comments below! Stay Jungle Strong!!