biceps routine amazingness

Today I'm going to share with you my very own, highly confidential, secret biceps routine. Of the stars. But first a functional anatomy review.

The biceps originates from a few structures at the front of the shoulder and inserts into both bones below the elbow. It functions to flex the elbow, supinate the forearm (turn the hand and wrist palm up), and flex the shoulder. In everyday movements, the biceps is an important anterior stabilizer of the shoulder.

But you don't want to worry about all the supinate this and stabilize that. You want GUNS! And with that, we're going to get right down to business.

The first exercise in my bicep routine is something called a bicep curl. You pick up something that's heavy and you bend the elbow. Lower it semi slowly so the elbow is straight, and you bend it again. Repeat. Do two or three sets of six reps, once or (if you must) even twice per week.

Are you ready for the great unveiling of what this may look like?

Really though, direct arm work (bis and tris, anyone?) should be an afterthought. If you must, do a set or three after your hard and heavy pull-ups and rows, squats, dead lifts and presses. Strive to progress the resistance, just like any other exercise.

Once you're able to dead lift two times your body weight for reps and do an equal number of chin-ups with 30 or 50 added pounds, then I'll hear your arguments about selective recruitment of the long head of the triceps and building a peak in the short head of the biceps. No, never mind. I don't want to hear about it even if you're a hulk with bowling balls bis blocking you from wiping your own... Okay never mind.

I've no more time for that than a 4th set of bis.


Tuck Jump Big Butt Paradox

Not functional. Not the ideal, on a few levels. Advertising fail.

I've written before about how much I love tuck jumps. I catch myself eyeing up fences, retaining walls, and other items fit for normal domestic use. But I'm labeling them. My pulse quickens at about the 5 foot mark.

"I'd get over that. Probably."

The tuck jump is an explosive total body effort. You leap off two legs to go on or over some kind of target. They are a critical ingredient in any program designed for increased power and speed.

Jumping over a chair or fence or theraband (less penalty with failure) or onto a rock or picnic table - those are tuck jumps. Thousands of reps on an agility ladder and hundreds of burpees and billions of leg raises won't achieve what a max effort tuck jump will.

Tuck jumps make you commit. The brain takes an automated approach to generating maximal force off the ground, including timing and coordination of multiple body segments. Try doing a series of high effort tuck jumps and see how your abdominal and low back muscles feel the next day.

There's no pacing with tuck jumps, which is part of their magic! You are not trying to be graceful or even particularly quick. Simply get up and over, higher and higher still!

The butt is a funny thing when it comes to tuck jumps. It gets in the way and knocks the bar down. But then again, it's what gets you up to higher capacity in the first place. So please don't lose that butt. [Or insert your own mandatory Sir Mix-A-Lot reference).

                                      5 foot 3 inch fail, due to butt.

Most typical sport movements require tremendous hip strength and power. You simply cannot have a scrawny celebrity butt and be powerful and athletic. Nobody ever sprinted hard or launched high due to a big barrel chest, hulking biceps, or bulky thick calves.

It's the hips! So move on your squats and single leg squats and dead lift variations. And plyos. Many people benefit greatly from a few corrective type moves to turn on the circuitry to those muscles (like glute bridges, hip hinge reaches, kettle bell swings, etc).

If you get a bigger more muscular looking butt, most people should be saying "good." But really, who cares? If you can raise your entire body up and over 50 inches (or so) and land on two feet, most fitness and aesthetic concerns will have taken care of themselves. You don't need to run a marathon to establish that you are fit. Some yoga or cross fit or "quick feet" drills may have their place.

But if you lift weights and jump things, you can learn to do just about anything well.

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Is knee pain inevitable?

For the first time since shoulder surgery in May, I went up strong and dunked with two hands yesterday. I was in a good mood all day after that. Yes, that's how awesome lame I am.

It was a big deal because I'm somewhere near the edge of down hill. Basketball, heavy lifting and most of the other things I like to do inflict far more impact than most 36 year old knees can take. I feel old man aches after over-doing it. 

The knees felt great for a few weeks after surgery forced a few weeks of rest upon me. No, I wasn't taking the post-op percocet. I should be thankful for the ability to move well at 36, perhaps stop with the high impact stuff while I'm ahead. Yeah, I'm going to seriously need a 12-step program for that. You don't just tell an addict to stop.

Runners run. Lifters lift. And so on and so forth. Because that's what they do. They will accept ache as the years wear on. Nobody ever said that basketball or tennis or jogging day in and day out was good for your knees.

Physical therapy is no magic bullet or miracle cure for the reality of time. It is no substitute for common sense or surgery or even ibuprofen. I would have to say that knee some degree of kneee pain is inevitable if you remain active like you're supposed to.

But I can tell you that many have some mechanical issue(s) that they can improve. It may be related to movement patterns, footwear, habits, or impaired strength, range of motion, and structural issues at other joints.

The knees usually take the brunt of dysfunction anywhere in the lower extremities because they are (1) weight bearing hinge joints with less degrees of freedom that (2) involve some of the strongest muscles with (3) the longest leverage in the body and (4) take on an insane amount of repetition.

If for any reason you walk down a flight of stairs with either foot turned out a bit too much, there's a significant amount of loaded twist and flex, twist and flex, grinding on your meniscus right there. And just last week I was able to help someone with knee pain by simply working on their gait pattern and first toe range of motion. They were habitually jogging around a problem they had ever since having surgery on their first toe.

Nobody runs or jumps or lifts or swims forever. But you often can delay the inevitable. You would be surprised what a little moderation in running and increased hip and core strengthening can do for the life of a runner. People with and without structural foot issues should be excited about what a shoe suited to their foot type and activity can accomplish.

And aging strength athletes? I'm sure I'll keep you posted. Today is deadlift day. No Advil today, I promise.

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