Author, fitness model, and trainer Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
Losing upper body mass has always been a concern for me and all my clients over 40. Everyone wants a powerful physique—and foremost for that strong look are the biceps muscles that make the arms pop. Personally, as a commercial actor, I audition as the “older guy,” so I must do what it takes to keep pace with the younger guys.
Years ago, before I started training clients, I used to swing dumbbells wildly to get a little bulge in my biceps, which was probably ineffective and may have done more harm than good. Lately (and especially with gyms closed for the foreseeable future), I’ve developed a greater bond with my resistance bands for curls. Now I prefer them for variety because I can create different angles and isolate different muscles, especially my biceps.
To help isolate the biceps, anchor your resistance band to a point in front of you, slightly below shoulder height. From this position, the resistance will be in front of you and you can do a single-arm (unilateral) curl.
With one hand, hold the resistance band with your palm facing upward. Stand back far enough to fully extend your arm and fully extend the resistance band—you might also want to double up your band for greater resistance. Bring your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. With your body and arm in this position, your elbow is elevated to do the curl. This will prevent your shoulder from assisting in the curl and isolate your biceps in the contraction. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart, anchored to the floor, with your core activated (squeeze your abs and glutes). This is your starting position.
Now, all you must do is perform the arm curl by flexing your elbow and pulling the handle toward your forehead. Keep your elbow elevated by imagining it is on a tabletop. The natural tendency is to pull the elbow down toward your body like a row—but resist that tendency. The resistance band will also twist your body and pull you out of balance, but don’t let that happen by keeping your core rock solid. When you’ve reached max contraction of your biceps, hold that position for five seconds and feel the squeeze. Then, release the contraction slowly for five seconds until your arm is extended in the starting position.
Try 5 sets of 5 reps with this arm curl. Holding at max contraction for five seconds and releasing slowing for five seconds really works your biceps and shoulders isometrically and eccentrically. As you progress and build biceps power, work your way up to a 10 second hold and 10 second release.
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