So what’s on the gun-building menu for your next arm workout? If you are like many would-be physique champs, chances are your next biceps, triceps and forearms session will include a selection of time-tested standbys: standing dumbbell, barbell and hammer curls, straight bar and/or rope pressdowns, dumbbell kickbacks and overhead extensions. Though each an excellent movement in its own right, and fundamental to building dense musculature through the entire arm region, these exercises should, on occasion, be relegated to secondary status.
IN THE INTERESTS OF PROVIDING AN ADDITIONAL SPARK NEEDED TO PROMOTE CONTINUED GAINS, AND AVOIDING THE DREADED PLATEAU, TRY PRIORITIZING SOME NEW, AND PERHAPS OBSCURE, THOUGH NO LESS EFFECTIVE, ARM TRAINING MOVEMENTS.
Our bis, tris, and forearms can be targeted from unaccustomed angles to provide a unique stimulus through which fresh gains in lean mass can be achieved. Hitting the same movements in each training session leads to stagnation. Though our weights may be progressively increased and our rep/set structure modified, the relative amount of stress inflicted on specific muscle fibers will be more or less the same. Sometimes a different set of exercises is called for to seek and destroy untapped muscle fibers to reveal a muscle’s full growth potential.
Decline Dumbbell Extension
Unlike many triceps extension movements which allow the use of heavy weights, the decline dumbbell version requires stricter isolation and lighter poundages to ensure that all target muscles are fully worked from extension to contraction. By lying on a flat bench, locking the arms vertically in front of the body, and hinging at the elbow joint, as when completing the old school skull crusher movement, tension is removed from the delts and the triceps are forced to work against gravity. However, because of the precarious positioning of the bar and the pressure placed on the shoulder joint, many people negate the effectiveness of this movement by letting their upper arms fall toward the head on the second half of this exercise. By placing a bench on a slight decline (to increase the recruitment of all three heads), holding two dumbbells as if to perform a hammer curl, and, from a fully extended position in front of your body with arms locked in place, lowering the dumbbells to the sides of your head before squeezing them back to the starting position, safety is improved (no skulls need be crushed) and a greater stretch can be achieved on the downward phase.