Use This Countdown Series to Build Your Biceps

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If you really want to grow your muscles, you need another level of connection and control. You can’t just space out and ignore what your body is doing as you rep through your workout and expect to see any results, so focus in on your movements to build that mind-muscle connection.

To make that breakthrough, use exercises like this concentration spider curl squeeze countdown series from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. You’ll make your arm day pump a smarter workout, with the subtleties of the movement the key to unlocking those next-level gains.

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“This spider curl series is all about building mind-muscle connection with super-controlled reps, and then carrying that mind-muscle connection into a few extra reps to really smoke your biceps fibers,” says Samuel. “Your goal is to pattern and hone flawless spider curl technique on the squeeze reps, then carry that same focus and momentum into standard reps for a little extra pump.”

To do the spider curl squeeze countdown, you’ll need an adjustable bench and a set of light dumbbells. Check out this adjustable option from Bowflex if you need some weights to get your lift on outside the gym.

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Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

  • Lean your chest on the back rest of the bench, holding a dumbbell in one hand. Don’t sit on the seat, and keep your pecs above the top of the bench.
  • Squeeze your bicep to curl the the dumbbell all the way up to touch your chest. Keep squeezing and hold that position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat the movement for holds of 4 seconds descending down to 1 second.
  • After finishing the hold reps, perform 6 to 8 standard spider curl reps, focusing on the squeeze for each one.
  • Switch arms and repeat on the other side.

The worst thing you can do for this routine is to rush. “Key is getting something out of the squeeze reps, because it’s very easy to waste them in spider curls in general,” says Samuel. “To do this, you’ve got to keep your upper arm perpendicular to the floor at all times; moving only at the elbow and avoiding any shoulder swing. You’ve also got to truly complete the curl, which means you need to curl the dumbbell head upwards on your pinky side so that it’s above your index finger side. Once there, you need to think not of “holding” for the allotted time, but of actively continuing the curling motion for that time. Then you release.”

Keep your mechanics clean and you’ll be able to build that muscle mind connection throughout the whole workout. Use the spider curl squeeze countdown as a finisher for your arm day workout, or as a standalone series when you need a pump before heading outside sans sleeves with 3 sets per arm.

For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.

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