Strong biceps will help you wrestle your bike around difficult terrain. Mark Ansell talks us through three exercises to help you get arms like arnie.
In the last issue we dealt with the back of the upper arms: the triceps. This issue we will balance up the arm and tackle the biceps. Yes, that’s the muscles you can see in the mirror and the ones that you can ‘impress’ other people with when you tone them up with this guide.
From a riding point of view the biceps are important when picking the bike up (although remember that you use your legs to do the work when lifting), balancing up muscular endurance with the triceps and lifting that glass at the end of a long day in the saddle.
Note: for all of these exercises make sure you use the ‘full range of motion’ (ROM), this means straightening the arm fully on the downward movement and bringing the hand all the way up on the upward movement. This is so you work all of the muscle fibres.
Resistance band bicep curl
This utilises the same resistance band that we’ve previously used in these fitness articles. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and the middle of the resistance band under your feet equidistant to your hands. Holding onto the handles, raise the hands towards your shoulders, bending at the elbow.
Be aware that only your lower arm should be moving as this is an isolation exercise. Keep your elbows touching the side of your torso throughout. You should aim for 1 sec up, 1 sec down tempo (1:1) and complete 12 repetitions over two sets with 30 seconds rest between sets.
Resistance band one arm ‘preacher’ curls
These can be used to ramp up the intensity on the biceps. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, one foot slightly forward (the same foot as the arm you are going to use), wrap the resistance band around the front foot (as you want to shorten it to increase resistance), then grab both handles with your hand.
Place your non-working arm under the elbow of the working arm, curl your hand to your shoulders in the 1:1 tempo again. Repeat for 10 reps on each arm for 2 sets.
Resistance bicep curls
This is a versatile exercise as the resistance can be provided by what you have to hand: You can use a full roll bag, your panniers, full jerry cans or water carriers. All of these usually mean that you do one set of bicep curls with the item in your hand, then switch over to the other hand.
We’ll go with a roll bag to illustrate in this instance. Feet shoulder width apart, hold the full roll bag by its closed handle. Lift the bag all the way up to the shoulder remembering to keep the elbow tucked into the torso. 1:1 tempo again for 10 reps over two sets and remember you can alternate the arms in order to allow each arm to rest between sets.