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Are Bicep Curls Neccessary?

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by TonySoprano, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. RTE

    RTE Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned chins but I want to see the people's arms that are suggesting no curls, not elite athletes.

    I think I could beat you on numbers who built their arms with curls. If you want a muscular arm then curl and directly work your triceps. :bb:
     
  2. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    I occasionally train with a former collegiate-level gymnast (graduated last year) who is training for cirque du soleil auditions in a few months, and she has never done direct arm work. When we do chins together, she can load a 45# plate on the belt (120 bodyweight + 45) and can crank out nearly 20 (no joke). I, on the other hand, at 170#, can do about 12-14 bodyweight. And arm size? I would say hers are around 14"- very impressive for a woman standing 5'1.
     
  3. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure you could.

    But I think the point to hit home here is that for a beginner (and I'm assuming that the OP is just starting out if he's asking this question) direct arm should take a backseat, if not left out of a routine until his entire body is strong. And that will come from consistent compound, multi-joint work.
     
  4. RTE

    RTE Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend a beginner do both compound and isolation moves with less numbers of exercises and sets.
     
  5. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Plus, the original poster is doing

    Three different flavors of chest press, pec machine, and looks like no rowing. That's what he needs advice on.
     
  6. Edster

    Edster Well-Known Member

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    Im afraid one scentence just isnt going to cut it. You'll have to make do with three paragraphs. Or four, if you include this one. :cool:

    In a pressing motion, you push weight out away from your body. For example, in a bench press you are lying horizontal and pushing weight upwards away from your body. When pressing, the arm is extending outwards and the arm muscle being worked is the tricep.

    In a rowing motion, you pull weight in towards your body. For example in a bent over row your back is horizontal and you are pulling weight from the floor towards your chest. When rowing, the arm is contracting inwards and the arm muscle being worked is the bicep.

    Other varitions include horizontal rows and unilateral rows. When someone refers to rowing, they typically mean one of these three exercises. Rows are very good for targeting your back muscles, and also recruit the biceps in the process.

    edit: beaten to the reply by miles
     
    #26 Edster, Apr 8, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  7. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    Also, from reading the comments section (http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1478463), this guy does no direct arm work at all, either.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While not utterly perfect, his physique is amazing and something many of us would kill for. And how was it built? Plain ol' compound exercises. Granted, he doesn't have *huge* arms, but when they are relatively proportional and functional (read that he can crank out 50-70 bodyweight dips), you have to stop worrying about arm size a little bit.
     
  8. RTE

    RTE Well-Known Member

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    Dips and Chins are both good arm exercises, I recommend often. I have no worries about size. While Biceps and triceps are relatively small muscles they should be worked and I feel directly.

    You can feel anyway you want and express it, stop worrying about what I believe a little bit. Express yourself to the original poster :cool:
     
  9. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    Excuse my grammar. The "you" was the 2nd person plural, and was not directed towards YOU, rtestes, the 2nd person singular. I should have said "one should not worry".

    This isn't meant as a pissing contest- I'm showing the OP what is possible without direct arm work.
     
  10. MannishBoy

    MannishBoy Senior Member

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    I agree with TB and zen. I think the time in the gym for beginners and even intermediates (like me) is better spent on big movements than doing "arm" days ad naseum.

    I still don't have big arms, but that's because I still don't have big legs or big shoulders, and they're more of a priority for me. The arms will follow the growth in other areas, because they're involved in a lot of other lifts.

    Overall body compositional changes and size can be effected more quickly with the bigger moves. If you spend a whole lot of time doing set after set of curls or calf raises, the average lifter is taking away from the big moves in their limited time they're spending in the gym. They're not going to get near the metabolic or hormonal responses they would receive for time spent squating or doing pullups.

    I'm not saying avoid them completely (although it wouldn't hurt a lot), just spend no more than maybe 25% of your time on iso stuff that's not a direct accessory lift to correct an imbalance or something.

    Same with abs, IMO.

    Once you get a good base built, then it starts making sense to me to focus a bit more on the smaller muscles.
     
  11. lil_dave

    lil_dave Well-Known Member

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    throw in some curls at the end of a back workout
    throw in some pushdowns at the end of a chest workout
     
  12. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

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    I built my arms with bench press, pull ups, and 1 arm DB rows. While now that huge, they're about 15" flexed @ a BW of ~ 180. I can also bench press 315, row about the same, and do a weighted pull up with +135 lbs. Check my picture thread if you want pictures, but I believe beginners should focus way more on the main torso muscles and legs than the arm muscles.
     
  13. TonySoprano

    TonySoprano Active Member

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    The reason I try to do little or avoid back exercises is that I had a herniated disk a couple of years ago and I REALLY DONT want to do that again...for those of you who have had that you know what im talking about... was only 16 at the time...anyways...what are some light back exercises I could start out doing ...?

    thanks again...and thank you guys for the quick and informative replies...
     
  14. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Well now you've mentioned your injury. Yes, that is a major consideration. You really need to get professional advice on what you can and should do around that.

    Eventually you will not want to avoid back exercises at all - but don't just dive in. You are correct in assuming that you must start slow and see how it goes. But avoiding back exercises is just a formula for getting more back injuries if you work out the rest of your body hard.

    My advice is now: Get professional advice about getting your whole body strong, including your back. Get into good shape, build that fundamental platform of strength before you worry about polishing off stuff with curls.

    You need your back to be healthy a whole lot more than you need big biceps.
     
  15. tensdanny

    tensdanny Well-Known Member

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    in addition to bent-over barbell rows, what else should I incorporate into my workout in terms of rowing?

    On my pull day, I do a little something like this:

    wide stance deadlift 3x10
    assisted pullups 3x10
    bent-over barbell rows 3x10
    lat-pulldown
    shrugs
    bicep curls
     
  16. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    Since this thread has been revived:

    Olympic gymnasts have nothing to do with this thread. They have big biceps, but those biceps are mostly built through methods not accessible to the average person, over a length of time that is vastly longer than most lifters have even been training, and as a result of the rigorous demands of their sports, not concentrated aesthetic effort. Their biceps do not represent what is attainable for the average lifter as the methods by which they were attained are completely different.

    Also, for anyone who hasn't heard me say it, their biceps are not the result of pull-ups. It's largely the straight-arm leverage work on the rings that they perform (crosses, planches, malteses, etc.) which is responsible for the great hypertrophy. Pull-ups are not a particularly effective exercise past the basic levels of the sport because they become much too easy unless the resistance is increased. Even when weighted pull-ups are performed, they are not usually a staple of a gymnasts training as they have little specificity to the large volume of static holds gymnasts must perform.

    Bicep curls are necessary whether you want to attain some aesthetic of big arms or need to help ensure the health of your elbow joint. Just performing compound movements is not enough unless you are on an all out bulk all the time and continually gaining a significant amount of body mass as you make significant increases in strength. This is not to say that bicep curls should be the focus of anyone's training -- I would never agree to that -- but that they are useful and, for the most part, a necessary adjunct to compound based training.

    Nothing -- that looks fine to me. Vary exercises after an appropriate length of time and after progress has begun to stall. Work progressively, trying to increase weights or reps as often as possible.
     
    #36 chicanerous, Apr 11, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007
  17. Buster

    Buster Active Member

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    As a beginner, I think that doing the big compound movements puts enough stress on my tris/bis for growth -- I get some DOMs the next day in my arms (although I'm not sure this is necessary for growth) and, more importantly, my strength increases. I do, however, throw in a quick set of bicep curls/french press to "finish them off" at the end of my session. I have an abbreviated training routine, e.g. yesterday I did:

    Squats (Warm up + 2x12)
    Dumbell bench (Warm up + 2x6)
    Military press (2x6)
    French press (1x6) -- stripping weight on failure

    I do a similar thing with bicep curls at the end of my back/bis session. Funnily enough, I've found my weights tend to go up a bit more now than when I was exhausting myself doing 3 exercises on the tris/bis a few months ago. Somehow, it feels like concentrating on the squats/deads makes more of a difference all over.
     

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