I'd like to start off by saying that not everything in fitness is as glamorous and exciting as weight training. Sure, weight training is important and one of the best things you can do for your body, especially as you age; however, there are other aspects to a healthy life such as: diet / nutrition, balance, rest, cardio, happiness, etc...
But today we are going to focus on the glitz and the glam and bring you a nice little variety of exercises that I personally use to carve out some nice biceps and triceps.
Now, granted, these are far from ALL of the arm exercises not only available but also that I use. However, these four (4) weight training movements (two for biceps and two for triceps) will give you a nice idea of where to start in regards to coming up with a workout plan to build your arms. So, here goes.
Image source: http://build-muscle-101.com/barbell-curls/
1) Barbell bicep curls (with alternating grip).
This is an oldie but a goodie. This movement simply begins with part "A" in the pictorial depiction above, and curls up to position "B" in the second image. This is a pretty simple and straight forward movement that you can perform primarily while you are standing. Sitting will be covered later in our preacher curl movement.
So why do I choose a barbell curl movement over a dumbbell curl? Well, only because most people use dumbbells in an alternating fashion: which I've grown to despise on the grounds of both lack of efficiency and also lack of constant tension (one arm rests while the other arm curls). A barbell forces the muscles to remain under tension almost at all times: that's a good thing. However, if you are going to use a dumbbell, focus on one side at a time to maintain a constant tension: it will just take you twice as long as barbell curls...
BONUS: Perform one set of bicep curls with the standard grip shown in the picture above. Then, grip the barbell with your hands over top of the bar and reverse the grip for maximum forearm usage and multiple bicep-head work.
Image source: http://www.bodybuilding.com/
2) Lying tricep cable pull-downs (with alternating grip).
Here is one I personally like to super-set with the barbell bicep curls. it's simple really: you lie down on a free bench facing away from the cable machine. Use a straight or an EZ-grip bar and pull it from head to waist to work your triceps.
Make sure that it is a fluid motion and that you pull long enough to create nice time under tension for the head of your tricep.
BONUS: to hit another head of the tricep and get some more forearm work in, simply reverse the grip again as explained in exercise one and reap the added benefits.
Image source: http://www.bodybuilding-wizard.com/
3) Seating bicep preacher curls (with EZ-grip bar).
This one, if used correctly, can be an absolute killer movement for your biceps. The reason why I say that is because the peak of the movement produces a nice muscle contraction, while the end of the negative movement creates an extreme amount of tension.
In addition, the fact that you are seated ensures that you are able to use your back for added strength at a minimal level: placing more of the focus and tension on the biceps.
A hint with this one is to start very light and use slow, deliberate movements. Focus on the tension of the negative movement and the contraction and squeeze towards the top of the positive (upward) movement. This one should leave your biceps sore for days the first few times you incorporate it into your workout.
Image source: http://www.workoutlabs.com/
4) Seated overhead tricep press.
Last but not least, we have the trusty overhead tricep press. Again, we focus this one as a seated exercise just to minimize the strain and assistance given to the back: we want to focus all of the tension and the muscle-tearing on the head of the tricep.
Although this exercise will not work all three heads of the tricep, it will give your arms a nice sore release of lactic acid and you will feel the pain just in time for a nice recovery period. This one is not complicated and can be figured out from the image above as it is simply a pressing movement over the head.
A tip for the seated overhead tricep press is to have a partner. The weight will most likely be very heavy to hoist over your head as a fair amount of weight is needed to put adequate tension on the triceps.
Those are my four arm workout exercises for the day. Although there are many, many more to focus on (which we may cover in later posts), these should give you a nice base for your beginner arm workout.
Do you have more arm / bicep / tricep movements that you would like to share? Use the comments below to tell us why these exercises stink or rule as well as to add your own movements and discuss. See ya!