Everybody works out differently: fitness classes or the gym floor, variety or regimen, everybody’s best practice is their own beautiful thing. But what if you’ve wanted to swap things round for a bit? What if, perhaps, you’ve been debating some new ways to really up your game in certain muscle groups?
Whether you’ve been looking for ways to step up your biceps game or some ways to get the back of your dreams, GQ has spoken to the best people for the job. We sat down with some of the finest trainers and fitness experts in the country to come together and propose how to switch up your workout for the results you want.
Ryan Pickard, Co-owner at Twelve X Three
Exercise 1: Chin-ups (close grip)
Grab a chin-up bar using an overhand grip with your hands placed approximately six to eight inches apart.
Hang with your arms fully extended, pointing your legs slightly in front of you. Press the thighs together and engage your core, then pull yourself up so that your elbows reach your ribs and the chin is above the bar. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds, then bring yourself down slowly so that your arms are extended again.
Exercise 2: Hammer curls
Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, with the palms facing your hips. Curl the weights up until your thumbs are near your shoulders, then lower the dumbbells back down to your sides. Keep your elbows locked in and make sure that it’s your forearms doing the work.
Exercise 3: Inverted rows (gymnastic rings or TRX)
Hold on to the gymnastics rings or TRX handles with your palms facing each other, then form a straight plank position with your heels touching the ground and the toes facing upwards. Brace the core and pull yourself up, squeezing the shoulder blades together and keeping the elbows close to the body. Hold the top position for a second then reverse the movement and slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
Exercise 4: Barbell curls
Hold the barbell with your hands just outside of your hips, using an underhand grip. Keeping your chest up, shoulder blades down and the core engaged, curl the bar up to shoulder height then squeeze for a second. Slowly lower back to the start position, keeping your biceps tensed and elbows tucked in tightly to the body.
Exercise 5: Resistance band biceps curls
Step on a resistance band with the feet hip-width apart, then hold one end in each hand. Pull the band up and bend your arms until your hands are at chest height, keeping your elbows tight to the sides of your body and the abs pulled in. Slowly lower your hands back to the starting position and repeat.
Ten chin-ups, 12 hammer curls, 12 inverted rows, 12 barbell curls, 30 resistance bicep curls.
Eight chin-ups, 10 hammer curls, 10 inverted rows, 10 barbell curls, 25 resistance band bicep curls.
Six chin-ups, eight hammer curls, eight inverted rows, eight barbells curls, 20 resistance band bicep curls.
Take a 1 minute 30 seconds break between each round.
Josh Silverman, head of education at Third Space
Exercise 1: Incline bench curl
Set a bench to an incline position. This should be one or two away from totally vertical. Your arms should now be slightly behind your torso. Your aim is to keep them there so the movement is only coming from the elbow. Now, using a hammer grip, bring the dumbbells up to your shoulder. You should stop the movement when your elbows start to swing forwards as this is no longer the biceps performing the move. Remember where that started and now stop there on each rep.
Exercise 2: Single-arm preacher curl
Set up a bench into an incline position. This should be around one or two away from being totally vertical. Grabbing a dumbbell, you are going to stand behind the bench and place your whole arm on the pad. You will now perform a single arm biceps curl. Your upper arm and elbow should remain on the pad at all times. If at the top of the movement you feel your elbow wanting to raise then stop the movement at that point on each rep.
Exercise 1: Barbell bent-over row
Stand over the barbell, legs shoulder-width apart, with the middle of your feet under the bar. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and perform a deadlift to get into your upright position. Bend at your hips and knees and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor, keeping your neck in line with your spine. Let the barbell hang with your arms straight. Bracing your core and squeezing your shoulder blades together, row the bar to your sternum. Lower the barbell back down with control and perform another rep. Perform ten reps for four sets.
Exercise 2: One-arm bench row
Put your favoured leg on a bench and grab the far side with the same-sided hand, bending forward so your upper body is parallel to the ground. Reach down and grab the dumbbell with a strong, neutral grip, keeping your back straight. Engaging your core, pull the dumbbell to your chest, squeezing your shoulder and back muscles. Lower the dumbbell back to its starting position with control and perform another rep. Perform ten reps for three sets (both sides).
Ian Robertson, personal training manager at Equinox Bishopsgate
Exercise 1: Narrow grip barbell bench press
The change to a narrow grip on a barbell bench press will switch the focus from the chest to the triceps. Most of the tension will be on the elbow joint not the shoulder joint. Key cues here are to keep your elbows brushing your torso throughout the press. When done well and consistently this exercise will make your triceps pop and improve the overall tone and thickness of your arm. Perform four sets of eight reps.
Exercise 2: Zottman curl
The Zottman curl is a more advanced biceps curl. The first part of the exercise is like a normal biceps curl done with a dumbbell. The difference is when that you reach the top point of the movement you turn your wrists around and lower the weight in the pronated position. This puts added emphasis on your forearms and the outer area of your biceps. Perform four sets of eight reps.
Exercise 1: Hammer curls
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms by your sides and palms facing in. Slowly curl the dumbbell towards the front of the shoulder, keeping the upper arm vertical. Lower over three seconds and repeat without pause. Do sets of five reps at ten-rep max weight.
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