Training

90-Degree Biceps Burn

Try this 1-exercise workout for a serious biceps burn.

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90-Degree Biceps Burn

Eddie Abbew had some of the greatest biceps in bodybuilding, yet his workout is simple, consisting of just one exercise. Although it's simple, what he does with that one movement is quite a workload. “What I do is a variation of 21s — in my case, 90s — on a preacher bench,” he explains. He warms up with two sets of barbell curls, then gets down to business.

STAGE 1 | Abbew grasps a dumbbell and, using the vertical side of a preacher bench, does one set of 10 reps of onearm curls through the bottom half of his range of motion (from full extension at the bottom to a point where his forearm is horizontal to the floor). He then immediately switches to the other arm for a set of 10 reps. Without rest, he repeats the sequence twice, for a total of three sets of 10 reps on each side. “In this lower-half stage, the negative is more important than the positive part of the repetition,” he says. “However, I still try to hold and squeeze at the top of each rep, even though it’s only halfway up. For the descent, though, I lower the dumbbell very slowly, applying extreme resistance and getting a good pull all the way to the bottom.”

STAGE 2 | Without pausing, Abbew begins the sequence anew, this time curling from horizontal to the top for three sets of 10 reps with each arm. “Here is where I get a peak contraction with every rep,” he says. “This top-halfrep burn comes on instantly, so I squeeze hard to keep it pumping.”

STAGE 3 | Without missing a beat, he begins a third sequence, this time using a full range of motion for another three sets of 10, allowing him to fatigue both the shorter and longer muscle heads. At the top, he holds for a one-second peak contraction, and he applies powerful negative resistance all the way down. “To some, this may sound like an easy workout,” Abbew warns, “but since it’s nonstop and intense, by the time I’m finished, my biceps are completely fried.” Abbew does only one exercise per workout, such as the one-arm dumbbell preacher bench spider curls just described above, but he also understands the value of employing a different exercise every time he trains biceps. Almost always, though, it’s an alternating movement: 10 reps with one arm, then 10 reps with the other, and always nonstop. “I just carry on through,” he says. “By the time I’m finished with one arm, the other arm is ready to go again.” Here are three of his favorites.

#1 Seated One-Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls | “This is how I initially built my biceps,” he explains. Usually, he sits on a bench and leans over, bracing his elbow against his inner thigh, so he can simulate the three-stage 90s on the  preacher bench. “I can get an extremely tight peak contraction at the top,” he says, “and on the full-range segment, I can use a well-controlled negative.”

#2 Seated Dumbbell Curls | The same approach is used here, as well, starting with 10 reps at the bottom half with one arm, 10 with the other, then 10 on each side in the top half, and finishing with a full-range sequence. Instead of switching the weight from hand to hand, Abbew holds the paired dumbbell in his resting arm as a counterbalance.

#3 Seated Barbell Curls | Abbew uses these to burn his biceps peak with a nonstop sequence of 10 reps. He then rests for about 15 seconds, and does another 10 reps, followed by 15 seconds’ rest, until he has completed nine sets.

 ABBEW’S BICEPS TRAINING 

WEEK 1: One-arm dumbbell preacher bench spider curls*

  • Bottom half of movement | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10
  • Top half of movement SETS: 3 REPS: 10
  • Full range of motion SETS: 3 REPS: 10

WEEK 2: Seated one-arm dumbbell concentration curls*

  • Bottom half of movement SETS: 3 REPS: 10
  • Top half of movement SETS: 3 REPS: 10
  • Full range of motion SETS: 3 REPS: 10

WEEK 3: Seated dumbbell curls*

  • Bottom half of movement SETS: 3 REPS: 10
  • Top half of movement SETS: 3 REPS: 10
  • Full range of motion SETS: 3 REPS: 10

EVERY FIFTH WEEK: Seated barbell curls SETS: 9† REPS: 10

NOTE: Every biceps workout begins with two sets of barbell curls as a warm-up.

* All sets are performed nonstop, without rest: three sets for each arm in the bottom half, followed by three sets for each arm in the top half, f inishing with three full-range sets for each arm.

† Abbew rests for 15 seconds between sets.

 

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