Photos by Ken Snow Photography. Used by permission.
I have heard it said that, "nothing worth having comes easy." I am a firm believer that all good things come from some sort of sacrifice. The question is, are willing to make a sacrifices? If you want something enough you’ll work hard for it.
In my life there are three things that I feel are worth making a sacrifice. They define who I am and provide me with fulfillment and joy. They are God, my family, and my career as a personal trainer and bodybuilder. For those three, I will do just about anything. I have come to realize that the more I sacrifice in these areas in my life the more I am rewarded.
Men, the Bible talks about working with our hands. We read where men in the Bible have prayed, “God strengthen my hands”. One thing I’ve discovered and you likely have too, is that the work we do with our physical hand strength often requires strength in our biceps too. So my question to you is, “Are you willing to sacrifice and work hard to get the physique you want, and in particular, the biceps you want?” I put this question up front because, if you are not willing to sacrifice, you may not get the results you’re seeking.
In my own life, I have seen first hand the power of perseverance, dedication, and sacrifice both in the gym and in everyday life. I consider myself a “hard gainer” as it has taken me nine years to acquire my current physique. So I know what it means to live the axiom: "Nothing worth having comes easy” and I commend it to you.
In the Bible Paul says it this way, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” That is a rock solid faith. So don’t be discouraged if your goal seems far off, if you have a lot of weight to loose or if you have an injury to overcome. These are just hurdles, not roadblocks. They can be overcome with sacrifice and perseverance.
I have seen lifters with “less than perfect” genetics surpass athletes with more potential just because of what they were willing to sacrifice to achieve their goal. One huge area of sacrifice for anyone interested in attaining a better physique is diet! Eat to gain, but eat healthy choices. An hour at the gym isn’t a free card for 23 hours of bad food and beverage choices. If you’re not willing to put the effort into eating healthy you will hinder your potential. Now that we have hopefully filled our minds with motivation and our body with nutrients, let’s start working out!
STRAIGHT BAR BICEP CURL
I start my workouts with straight bar bicep curls because this is a movement where I can challenge myself with the heaviest weight possible.
Put your arms shoulder width apart and rest your elbows at your sides. Bend your arms at your elbows while keeping your elbows pointed straight down towards the ground. Curl the weight all the way up to your chest until your biceps are touching your forearms.
At this point contract the muscle for one second as if you were trying to move the bar past this physically impossible point. Then bring the weight back down slowly lowering the weight to the starting point. Repeat this motion with heavy weight for 5 sets starting with a 10 rep range. On each set you should loose a rep bringing you down to 6 reps on your final set. I occasionally also like to incorporate resistance bands and drop sets for this exercise for extra sacrifice and intensity! Extra sacrifice and intensity will result in rock hard biceps!
Spider curls are my personal favorite! These give you the isolation of a preacher curl but in addition give you a full range of motion from the bottom to the top of the movement. I always say "full range full benefit and development.”
For this exercise use a preacher curl bench but remove the seat. Hang your arms over the side that the seat was on so that your arms will be angled straight down to the ground. Use the closer grip on the curl bar and again all the way down and all the way up squeezing at the very top of the movement.
Since this is a very strict isolation exercise I like to start light with high reps and slowly move up the weight and lower the reps. For the spider curl, I usually follow a 12, 10, 8, 6 rep pattern, going a little heavier every set for a total of 4 sets.
If you don’t have a preacher curl bench, spider curls can also be done effectively on an adjustable incline bench. Set the bench at a slight incline and lay face down with your chest on the top of the pad. Hang your arms straight down and have a partner hand you the bar. When using an incline bench for spider curls make sure to keep your elbows pointed straight towards the ground for full muscle isolation. It is easy to bring your elbows into your body without the support of the preacher bench. I also like using dumbbells for a little variation on these.
DUMBBELL HAMMER CURLS
Dumbbell hammer curls are a great finishing movement for any bicep routine. Start by holding the dumbbells in a neutral position, and then curl the weight up all the way to your shoulder. On the way down lower the weight slowly for a 4-second count. Do 5 sets of 8 reps per arm going as heavy as you can with good form. Avoid swinging the weight. For a slight variation you can also lift the weight across your body to the opposite shoulder. I like finishing my last set of hammer curls with a drop set. I drop by 10 pound increments per set all the way down to 15 pound dumbbells. Fifteen pounds never felt so heavy. Now we can leave the gym knowing we gave it our all. Keep up this level of intensity and sacrifice and you’ll be on your way to rock hard biceps.
USING THE BICEPS TO SERVE GOD
You have been sacrificing in the gym but it shouldn't end there....now its time to sacrifice in service to God. Each day I take a few minutes to pray and give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to do what I love for a living every day of my life. I am a personal trainer at Beyond Limits Training and have the opportunity to help people change their physical lives. My work isn’t work. I love what I do and I am extremely thankful for the ability and opportunity to do it. But what if your work IS work and you don’t necessarily love what you do? You can still be thankful for your job. I encourage you to take time and pray about peace and wisdom for your current job AND THEN take even more time to pray and give thanks to God as you pursue the career He has for you. That may not be easy but it is key to building rock solid faith. There are career resources and coaches like the book What Really Works by Paul Batz that can help.
I am also thankful for my church family where I have many opportunities to serve God and others. My wife is a youth pastor so I am blessed to serve and worship alongside her at youth events and in ministry. Habitat for Humanity is one great organization where I like to serve. Certainly in the work I do with them my bicep training enables me to serve well. I have previous experience in the skilled trades and find this the best way for me to physically serve God and my community. While I always enjoy serving others, it takes time, energy and sacrifice. It may not really be as much of a sacrifice as it is an awesome opportunity to use some of my gifts, time, and talents to serve God.
Building rock hard biceps and rock solid faith takes hard work for sure. We may see physical training and spiritual growth as a sacrifice. It is in fact an opportunity given to us by God to do good and not give up. We are truly blessed.
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Adam Atkinson has been certified in personal training since 2004. He enjoys helping people achieve their goals and cares about his clients getting the results they deserve. He specializes in weight loss, muscle gain, strength, conditioning, bodybuilding, figure, physique and bikini prep. His training base includes a wide array of methods that are flexible depending on the skill level. He and his wife live in Ohio.