Regular readers of my articles and viewers of my M&F Raw! series know that I’m a big believer in using multijoint exercises to encourage greater muscle growth, since these moves involve at least one other muscle group to assist the target muscle, which allows you to go heavier than you can with single joint exercises. But when it comes to biceps, none of the traditional exercises used are compound moves – until now.
Grow your guns with this bodyweight extended set curling exercise
By Jim Stoppani, PhD
A great multijoint exercise for the biceps that I created to force even the most stubborn arms to grow is the biceps ladder. The easiest place to do this is on a Smith machine or power rack. Set the bar in the Smith machine at a height that allows you to hang from it as if doing an inverted row so that your back just clears the floor. Use an underhand grip and pull your face up toward the bar in a curling motion, then slowly lower your body back to the start position.
Do as many reps as you can until you reach muscle failure, then immediately raise the bar up one notch and continue doing body curls. Each time you reach muscle failure, raise the bar up a notch until you’ve reached the top notch.
Every time you raise the bar up it reduces the resistance that your body provides, making it easier to continue the set. So in essence, this is one long extended set. The novel movement of this exercise will stimulate muscle fibers that you’ve likely been ignoring, and this move also places a high load on the negative part of the rep (especially on the lower rungs), which induces a lot of biceps muscle damage to stimulate new growth.
CLIMB THE LADDER BICEPS WORKOUT
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Biceps Ladder 1-3* to failure 3 min.
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 8-10 1-2 min.
*Start off with one full set of biceps ladders. Once that’s no longer challenging, bump it up to two sets, and then eventually three.
On the lower rungs, where the resistance is the greatest, you may need to cheat yourself up on the positive part of the rep and focus just on the negative. Try to get at least five reps on each position, even if you have to cheat to do it.
To see the biceps ladder in action, watch Stoppani’s video training series M&F Raw! #43 – Biceps Ladder