Positions of Flexion
The sticking point. Everyone has them. Maybe it’s at the mid-range, perhaps it’s at the bottom of the movement, wherever it is there is a clear problem. That problem is based around recruiting the proper motor units to express the necessary strength to move the weight! You have problems growing your biceps and triceps? Find out how positions of flexion can contribute to developing not only incredibly strong arms but also arms of an impressive physique!
Conquering Varying Positions
Overlap of training is relatively consistent in most training systems. The same holds true in most systems of Arm Targeting. Lifters continue to smash the same muscle groups from the same angles and get the same results. Size never increases and strength levels flatline. Month after month, year after year the athlete continues to falter with their physique periodization while they struggle to stimulate new growth.
The first major step in eliminating this problem is to understand what it means to hit the biceps and triceps from varying angles. This method of precision will then determine the type of load and type of rep best utilized based off specific movement. When we dive into the concept of reps for the upper arm, there needs to be two key aspects.
Targeting from positions: midrange, stretched and contracted.
Targeting from rep focus: eccentric, isometric or concentric focused.
The positions and rep focus need to be understood and learned to enhance the gains in size and strength needed to bust through those long lasting plateaus.
Let’s cover the position of flexion first. This process was first introduced to me through the education of Charles Poliquin, who stole it from Steve Holman who likely stole it from Anthony Ditillo. These methods stimulate growth by understanding physiology and biomechanics together.
Midrange: Typically, the midrange is hammered with a compound movement that never fully leads to a true stretched position or true contracted position. For targeting the biceps, these exercises will keep the upper arm IN FRONT of the torso. This brings in some recruitment of the front deltoid along with the biceps.
Because the upper arm is typically in front of the torso, the bicep never reaches a fully lengthened position. This would be used with a standing bicep curl or even a preacher curl. These movements use a slight bit of deltoid which makes it easier to execute with greater weight. Based off of training, using isometric contractions (no change in length of muscle) works quite well with midrange training.
Stretch or Lengthened: This is pretty self-explanatory, the muscle gets to a FULLY lengthened position. This is where the lengthened muscle leads to impressive growth ranges and is very stimulated by these movements. The principle of “lengthening is strengthening” always needs to come to mind. This is no different! When the muscle is lengthened, there is a sense of pull that can generate a full reflex when used properly. This is known as the myotatic reflex and can contribute to monster growth.
In the world of biceps, this position of flexion happens when the upper arm is behind the torso. Exercises such as incline curls or incline zottman curls come to mind. The bicep is very lengthened and the lengthening is quite evident. Because the range of motion is so great, using focused ECCENTRIC contractions that are very controlled are what lead to massive growth in muscular renovation.
Contracted: This position of flexion is when the athlete is able to get the muscle is PEAK contraction. After properly stimulating the muscle and igniting the nervous system, the body is able to achieve a maximal contraction that stimulates the mind-muscle connection and muscular growth.
A good example would be the classic concentration curl or spider curls over a box or chest supported curls. This contracted position is best used in conjunction with concentric movement.
What can we do?
First, everyone should pick up a copy of Bize and Trize 1 and 2.
The opportunities are endless with positions of flexion working alongside varying movement types. However, the goal needs to be focused upon the individual and their own personal sticking point. Multiple questions need to come into play to help design appropriate periodization for massive muscular gains.
Is the sticking point a strength issue? Yes.
Is the sticking point a size issue? No.
Is there a poor mind-muscle connection? No.
Is there poor eccentric control? Yes.
After addressing these, the lifter can create a template based around their own problems while improving their individual weak points.
Based off the answers above, there is a simple analysis that comes into play. The strength issue proves out that midrange work needs to be addressed. There is not a size issue and the mind-muscle connection is on point BUT there is poor motor control through the eccentric portion of the curls. This gives insight to full program design for monster biceps!
Give Me Those BIZE!
A simple arm day periodized solely around biceps would carry this set up.
1A) Standing Barbell Curl 5 x 7-9 mid-range/normal rep
1B) Tricep Pushdown 5 x 17
2A) DB Incline Curls with 5 second Eccentric 5 x 9 stretched/eccentric focus
2B) Clap Push Ups 5 x 12
3A) Homers 4 x 9/9 mid-range/isometric work
3B) Seated Tricep Extension 4 x 17
By analyzing the positions of flexion and pairing that with proper rep control, the athlete is now set up for a more successful approach to growing SIZE and STRENGTH. Hitting the muscle at all angles leads to massive stimulation and ultimately growth.
Every bodybuilder or lifter needs to comprehend their own weak points and inadequacies. This is the key to developing a long term program that is then periodized toward optimal growth. When training the biceps, it is important to comprehend where the sticking point is and associate that with a specific type of rep movement. This leads to greater understanding of physiology and then ignites greater hypertrophy!
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