Concentration Curl, Hammer Curl, Preacher Curl, Incline Curl, and What Not.
By Vishwanthar on Training
April 22, 2009
The purpose of writing my thoughts on the above topic came from a question which was raised by an individual who frequents Ironcult. He queried, “Coach, why don’t you allow us to do concentration curls, as I heard from a friend of mine that it is a very good exercise for building huge biceps.” I had always wondered about these various bicep exercises and had thought, perhaps, there is a better way to achieve bigger biceps. I was really not convinced performing various types of bicep curling movements. I couldn’t come up with an answer as I didn’t have the wherewithal to know the answer. But, off late (since two years or so) I had stopped doing curling movements for building biceps, as I honestly felt and still feel that pull-ups and chin-ups with various grips is adequate to stimulate growth in the bicep. I can acknowledge that my beliefs didn’t go wrong, as I haven’t lost the size I earlier possessed. So how true it is to perform regular dose of bicep exercise to build them?
Allow me to explain my views and let’s try to understand this aspect better. Take for example the physiques gymnasts possess. How do they possess humongous bicep, shoulder and forearm size? Moreover, they are endowed with a strength which looks to be directly proportional to the size of the muscles, and not like the regular beefed up and juiced (steroid) bodybuilder’s physique, which is devoid of strength. Since gymnasts possess huge bicep, forearm and shoulder which even bodybuilders envy, they should be doing various bicep curling movements and protocols. Yes, Yes! They cannot achieve a bicep size and shape like they do by not doing various bicep curling movements. Alas! I am very sorry, as this is not the case with them.
To strengthen the above view, let me introduce a man who knows better about gymnastics and what he has to tell about our so called views. Coach Christopher Sommer was a competitive gymnast and now is preparing athletes for the USA Junior National Gymnastics Team for many years. Presently, he is running the men’s competitive program at the Desert Devil Gymnastics National Team Training Center. A question was posed to him regarding the gymnastic physique, and how gym rats go gaga over their physique and what is the biggest thing that would surprise gym rats. Here comes the surprise; He states, “That their training is comprised almost entirely out of bodyweight exercises”. Here comes another surprise, as the questioner then asks Coach Sommer that these guys with the killer biceps don’t do barbell and dumbbell curls? Coach Sommer replies, “No, not a single one! In fact, their amazing biceps development isn’t the result of any kind of curling movement at all, but primarily due to the straight arm leverage work which they do in the still rings. The straight-arm work is enormously difficult and puts tremendous strain on the biceps resulting in incredible growth.” By the way you can view the whole article at http://gymnasticbodies.com/articles2.html . Please read the above mentioned questions and answers column in its entirety: You will grab a better view of building bicep.
Moreover, performing a bicep curl will not help them whatsoever to do a pull-up on a gymnast ring. They tense their bodies holding statically in different positions and master the movements on the ring, parallel bar, and the floor depending on the sport they are involved in. They practice the required movement SEVERAL times in a day. This should brush aside the view which is held in bodybuilding that we need to work out for a stipulated time and consume the exact calories pre and post workout. That is, if these men are training in several sessions a day, how on earth will the idea of pre and post workout apply to them? In that case, every meal should be considered as pre and a post workout meal. Eugen Sandow who was one of the greatest natural bodybuilder says, “I believe that Nature is the best guide as to what we should eat and drink; and provided that we should not eat and drink too much, I think one cannot go wrong in taking those things with a healthy appetite and a natural inclination suggest. The danger lies in not so much in the quality as in the quantity and the manner of taking. I would rather eat six times a day-a little at a time- than live on two heavy meals.” Eating smaller meals throughout the day makes absolute sense. He also advocated eating whole some food for better health and well being. A balanced diet which contains complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat, vegetables, and fruits should be consumed in moderation.
Now, let’s look at what science has to tell why gymnast should not train with weights, but rely on body weight exercise. It should be known that sports specific training is presumably based on two principles from the seven grand daddy laws. The seven grand daddy laws are: Principle of Individual Differences, Overcompensation Principle, Overload principle, SAID Principle, Use/disuse Principle, Specificity Principle, and GAS principle. The two training principles which concern a sport person is the SAID AND Specificity principle. The SAID principle which is an acronym for Specific adaptation to imposed demands suggests that to increase your explosive strength, we will have to train more explosively. To improve our endurance we will have to improve our cardiovascular abilities and oxygen using ability of various muscle involved in the activity. Likewise, if a person wants to endure in a marathon he should not concentrate on lifting weights rather work on his endurance by practicing distance running. The same applies to any sport. The specificity principle is also applicable to the sport person. For example, we will become better at dead lifts if we dead lift on a regular basis; similarly, swimming is not going to help us to run better. We will have to perform the specific activity for the specific adaptation to occur in the same movement pattern. So, a gymnast has to perform the specific activity to be proficient at it.
In addition, isometric contraction, which has been neglected by many of us, plays an important role in the workouts of gymnasts. Isometric exercise involves exerting force against an immobile object. If we observe their routine they hold their bodies isometrically in various positions. The renowned Russian Scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky states, “Each 6-second isometric contraction is in effect equal to many dynamic contractions in which maximal force is of a duration no more than 0.1 seconds.” Isometric contraction can enhance strength and hypertrophy, as it can recruit almost all the muscle fibers in the targeted muscle group within few seconds. Do we need a living proof? Observe the physique of a gymnast below and you will know the answer.
Finally, no pun added to bodybuilding, as it is a great discipline. I mean the discipline involved in developing muscles and following a strict method of diet to achieve the desired result is itself a great accomplishment. My concern is a muscle which would match the strength of the individual and the overbearing importance to complicated diet protocols. As Buddha had stated, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
PS: Experts in the field of fitness have stated the importance of performing heavy deadlifts for bigger bicep, as it TENSES the bicep isometrically.