Short Circuits Part 4: Bicpes

article 2008 short circuits part4 biceps 01 Short Circuits Part 4: Bicpes

By Mike Berg

Improve the size and definition of your arms — without endless hours of lifting. These four 20-minute biceps-focused circuit-training workouts are designed to build bigger biceps no matter your life’s time constraints.

Can you name the muscle group that, when developed, gets noticed more than any other? No, impressive as it may be, the answer is not a thick chest. It isn’t wide shoulders either. Washboard abs? Good guess, but wrong again.

Think about it: Unless you’re an underwear model or one of those guys who strip down and paint themselves in team colors at local sporting events (and please, tell us you’re not one of those guys), all of those aforementioned body parts are usually hidden under clothing. Meanwhile, the muscles we’re referring to are often on display if you have plenty of short-sleeve shirts in your closet — your arms. Capped by a hard softball-shaped biceps, they tell the world you’re a bodybuilder, or at least that you’re serious about fitness.

Now here’s some good news. Building mountainous bi’s doesn’t have to take hours upon hours in the gym. For those of you with wickedly brutal schedules, we have devised the following four circuit workouts, each and every one of them compressing all the benefits of a longer training session into a mere 20 minutes.

Before you start, there are just a few things to keep in mind. To complete the routines that quickly, you’ll want to employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/three-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than one minute between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the brief period it takes to switch positions and/or weights for the next movement.

Later in the “Short Circuit” series, we’ll provide 20-minute workouts for triceps. Whether you use the routines in that article or another triceps workout of your own choosing, the combination with these biceps-busting regimens should spur your arms to grow — and garner plenty of attention in the process.

Workout Circuit #1: Dumbbells

Exercise Reps
Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl 12, 10, 8
Dual Dumbbell Hammer Curl 10, 10, 8
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 10, 10, 8
Dual Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Curl 10, 10, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through.
The math: 172 total reps (which figures in the fact that the alternating curl and concentration curl are done one arm at a time) at 6 seconds per rep = 1,032 seconds, or about 17 minutes; plus one minute rest between the first and second circuit and second and third circuit, totals 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: If you have a few more minutes at your disposal, you can break this workout into two supersets, pairing the first two exercises and the second two. This should allow you to handle a bit more weight overall on each set because of the additional rest.

Workout #2: Barbells

Exercise Reps
Standing Barbell Curl 15, 12, 10, 8, 8
Barbell Preacher Curl 12, 10, 10, 8, 8
Reverse-Grip Barbell Curl 12, 10, 10, 8, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit five times through. Use a very light weight for a warm up on your first set of barbell curls.
The math: 149 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 894 seconds, or about 15 minutes; plus 1 minute rest each circuit, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: It’ll add slightly to the length of the workout, but for an extra challenge, try to get 15 reps on every set, selecting poundages that are challenging enough that you can’t finish without using the rest/pause technique — pausing a few seconds mid-set as many times as it takes to complete all 15 reps.

Workout #3: Free Weights & Machines

Exercise Reps
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl 15, 12, 10, 8
Incline-Bench Dual Dumbbell Curl 12, 10, 8, 8
Smith-Machine or Barbell Drag Curl 12, 10, 8, 8
Reverse-Grip Straight-Bar Cable Curl 12, 10, 10, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through. For the incline-bench curl, lie with your chest on the pad of a bench set at about 45 degrees and curl both dumbbells simultaneously.
The math: 161 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 966 seconds, or approximately 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: To limit the amount of equipment you need to take up at the gym, you can do the EZ-bar preacher curl by standing behind the incline bench, using a close-grip so both elbows fit on the pad. Some benches are built too narrow to accomplish this, but in that case you could also do the first exercise with dumbbells, repping one arm at a time.

Workout #4: Free Weights & Machines

Exercise Reps
Standing EZ-Bar Curl 15, 12, 10, 8
Hammer-Grip Pull-Up 10, 10, 10, 8
Dual Incline Dumbbell Curl 10, 10, 10, 8
Standing Straight-Bar Cable Curl 10, 10, 10, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.
The math: 159 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 954 seconds, or about 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: If you tire on the dual incline dumbbell curl to the point of failure, switch to alternating reps to complete the set. The small moment of rest each arm gets as the other does a rep will help your biceps recharge just enough to continue to the end.

Short Circuits Part. 1: Shoulders

article 2008 short circuits shoulders Short Circuits Part. 1: Shoulders
Do you want to maximize your size and definition, but don’t have the luxury to spend hours training? Use any of these three powerful 20-minute circuit-training workouts when time is of the essence.

Oftentimes, the hours in our lives just don’t add up the way we’d like. Figure an hour to get ready in the morning, about 10 at work, a 60-minute commute each way, an hour for dinner, two to watch the game, three hours of quality time with the family at night … add seven hours of shut-eye, and you’re at about … well, 26 hours to pack into a 24-hour day. And you didn’t even figure in a workout yet!

You may think you have to compromise your muscle-building results when you only have an extremely limited amount of time to train every day. But the good news is, you don’t — and we’ve designed the routines to prove it, starting with shoulders in this first of a series of exclusive ProSource articles.

The first two workouts below are built for either home or gym use, while the third incorporates a selection of high-tech equipment at your disposal at a typical health club. To complete the routines in 20 minutes, employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/three-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than 30 seconds between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the time it takes to switch positions and/or weights for the next movement.

With these plans in hand, you can squeeze your lifting into almost any schedule — no matter how crazy it may be.

Workout Circuit #1: Dumbbells

Exercise Reps
Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise 15, 12, 10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 15, 12, 10
Dumbbell Front Raise 15, 12, 10
Standing Dumbbell Press 12, 10, 8
Dumbbell Upright Row 12, 10, 8

Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. The math: 171 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 1,026 seconds, or about 17 minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second circuit and second and third circuit, totals 18 minutes, leaving 2 minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Note: If you’re at home, switching out dumbbells may take a little longer if you have the collared adjustable versions where you have to switch plates on and off, but on the first three exercises at least, you likely can use the same weight and still be adequately challenged. If you have two sets of adjustable dumbbells, you can set one pair up for the first three exercises, and another for the latter two.

Workout #2: Dumbbells and Barbells

Exercise Reps
Seated Dumbbell Press 15, 12, 10, 8
Standing Barbell Press 10, 10, 8, 8
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 12, 12, 10, 8
Seated Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise 12, 12, 10, 8

Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. For your first set of seated dumbbell presses, use a very light weight for a warm up.

The math: 165 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 990 seconds, or 16 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 18 minutes, leaving 2 minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Note: In a gym, use a power rack for the standing barbell press, so you can take it off the racks and be in position to press. At home, you’ll need to add a power move off of the floor, bending your knees and lifting the bar to your hips deadlift style, then cleaning it to your shoulders to get into position to do your pressing repetitions.

Workout #3: Machines

Exercise Reps
Seated Machine Lateral Raises 15, 12, 10, 8
Seated Machine Press 10, 10, 8, 8
Reverse-Pec Deck Flye 12, 12, 10, 8
Reverse Cable Crossover
Repeat the circuit three times through.
12, 12, 10, 8

The math: 165 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 990 seconds, or 16 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 18 minutes, leaving 2 minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Special Instructions: Because you’re using machines and can switch weight effortlessly from set to set, take advantage by pushing yourself — select challenging weights, and if you fail mid-set, simply drop the weight by 10% or so and complete the prescribed reps. Choosing heavy enough weights to start each set that you need to drop mid-set will add an extra dimension of intensity to your session.