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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:52 am 
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In the 'Preacher Curls' thread we are discussing 'Well Rounded Bicep Development ' What I am about to discuss applies to any muscle, but let's stick to the biceps as one example.

I am trying to understand what 'well rounded bicep development' means.

In my worldview there is a muscle, and if you apply stimulus to it, it will grow. So the only variable that has to do with appearance is the size of your biceps.

The shape of the muscle is genetic (depends on origins and insertions) and cannot be altered. Or can it? The only way I can think of is described below.

We know that the bicep has a long head and a short head. Can you really emphasize one of the heads in such a way that the appearance of you biceps changes? In other words can you make only one of the heads grow, or make it grow more in proportion to the other head? I always thought that this is not really possible, but please prove me wrong.

If we agree that we cannot shape a muscle, then the only purpose of changing exercises is to elicit continuous growth.

And if is IS possible to shape a muscle, is this really where most of us should be placing our focus?

Please discuss. What does 'Well Rounded Bicep Development ' mean to you?


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 10:28 am 
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Well, let's remember that there is both muscle size, and muscle strength. So size isn't the only variable, unless you're talking about what's discernable in a picture.
But yeah, it is possible to isolate the long or short head, vary the width of your grip on a barbell and you'll see a difference (over time). I doubt the overall aesthetic would be vastly improved by having huge short / small long though or anything like that.
Also, when I think of well rounded bicep development I think about how they fit into my overall physique, naturally I compare them to my triceps, so that there's no undue stress on my arm or elbow. Having huge bi's is a common goal of many a gym-goer, but that doesn't mean it should be your only goal.

Anyway, that's my opinion.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 10:49 am 
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Arnold Schwartzenegger had outstanding biceps but just very good triceps. His contemporary, Sergio Oliva, had the exact opposite. Both men had exceptional genetics for muscle-building, but each of them still had body parts that were better than others. If triceps development were valued over biceps, perhaps Oliva would have starred in Pumping Iron.

My personal opinion is that the ability to grow muscle is largely genetic, and that some people are just better at it than others. And even among people who are good at growing muscle, some bodyparts will lag behind others. If you're training biceps with the intent of looking like Arnold, chances are overwhelming that you'll come up short. That's no reason not to try your best. But comparing yourself to others usually sets you up for unhappiness. To borrow a phrase from the old Army commercials, just be the best that you can be.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:43 am 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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Often when people refer to a biceps routine, what they really mean is a biceps/bracialis/braciordialis routine (probably spelled that wrong). As a result, they might do several exercises to target each area, although there is a great deal of crossover.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:53 am 
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DubDub wrote:
Well, let's remember that there is both muscle size, and muscle strength. So size isn't the only variable, unless you're talking about what's discernable in a picture.
But yeah, it is possible to isolate the long or short head, vary the width of your grip on a barbell and you'll see a difference (over time). I doubt the overall aesthetic would be vastly improved by having huge short / small long though or anything like that.
Also, when I think of well rounded bicep development I think about how they fit into my overall physique, naturally I compare them to my triceps, so that there's no undue stress on my arm or elbow. Having huge bi's is a common goal of many a gym-goer, but that doesn't mean it should be your only goal.

Anyway, that's my opinion.


For the purposes of this discussion I am only talking about appearance. I certainly agree that strength is important and that it is important to have balance.

What I am trying to understand is the logic behind 'hitting a muscle from different angles' and trying to emphasize different parts of a muscle. Can a muscle selectively contract fibers in a certain region of a muscle?

I see a lot of people trying to shape their muscles by using different exercises. I thought all this was nonsense, but I also try to regularly reevaluate what I think I know.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:26 pm 
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genetics do play a huge factor in the speed in which the muscle develops and the type of training one must do start that growth. some muscles grow much faster than others and mucj easrier. my triceps grow like weeds so training them is more of an after thought.

as far as well rounded bicep development i agree with the gentlmen said that altering your shape is impossible.
some have the very nice looking peak"ronnie colmen" others dont, not because of lack of the secret excersize to bring it out, but becasue their muscles are not put on their bones the excact same way.
for conversational sake i would say when talking about well rounded bicep development means hitting the muscle at several different postions stimulating all the fibers and allowing maximal growth and development within your genetic parameters


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 1:57 pm 
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Quote:
Can a muscle selectively contract fibers in a certain region of a muscle?


No, I believe that's something covered in this, but I could be wrong.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:36 pm 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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While, it's imposible to selectively contract a muscle, it is possible shift emphasis to varrying degrees from one area to another. For example, while doing Dumbbell Laterals the entire deltoid will contract to some extent, but the side head of the deltoids will do most of the work. Likewise, the entire bicep will contract to some extent whenever you curl your arm, but the emphasis may shift somewhat depending on the variation.

How important these variations are in developing a proportional, well-developed pair of biceps is debatable, and I suspect individual variations play a role. After all, some guys can get great guns just from barbell or dumbbell curls (or without doing any direct biceps work), while others seem to need variety in order to see any improvement.

Also, I agree that the shape of individual muscle or head of a muscle is determined mostly by genetics, however it's overall size and level of development relative to other muscle groups can be altered.


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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 7:05 am 
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In the BiCep there are indeed two heads, the long and the short. Certain variations of a bicep curl hit each head differently, also pretty much all pulling exercises hit at least one head in some manner. It is definitely possible to "hit" a muscle in various ways, if the joint it affects is a variable joint! A twist of the wrist brings with it the inclusion of the brachio radialis, the same in a leg extension for the quads, pointing the toes out or in will change the effect to the head of the muscles AND the attaching ligaments and tendons of the knee joint.

One thing that no one has mentioned yet is an athletes enthusiam for training a particular body part. Those with big arms and small legs probably hate leg days. If you hate hammer curls but love preachers your gonna get different variations in the short and long head of the bicep, not to mention the muscles of the forearm! Personally I have a weak back because i didn't like doing back in college, the gym we had didn't cater well to the exercises I liked for back. My bi ceps also suffered!

It is a very complicated issue, and the best answer is train for what YOU want! Are you training for strength, symetry, building mass or a sport? I'm training to lose weight so I "hit" everything three times a week but only with one or two exercisesper session and I try to use compound exercises and limit isolation exercises. When I drop weight and I want some definition or I see a weakness then I'll train more with isolation exercises.

Oh and by the way, hold your arm and slowly move it to a bicep flex, feel the movement in you muscle, you're now "selectively" contracting muscle fobres through a full motion, if you do a partial movement you have "selected" a partial movement. A contaction doesn't consist of go-to-whoa, it's a process and through that process only certain fibres will contract at certain times starting at the bely of the muscle and moving towards the tendons!


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