Cable Barbell Curls
Guest post on AtoZfitness By Nick Nilsson
Want to build muscle faster? "Hybrid Training" is a powerful concept in weight training that combines TWO separate forms of resistance into ONE single exercise to dramatically increase the muscle-building power of both!
This exercise is the Cable-Barbell Curl and it's going to turn your biceps into mush and then into mountains!
So What is "Hybrid Training?"
"Hybrid Training" is a technique that allows you to use TWO distinct forms of resistance in ONE exercise. Why is that good? Because standard exercises have limitations due to your body's biomechanics.
When you do a barbell curl, you can only use as much weight as your biceps can handle IN THE WEAKEST PART of the exercise, which is when your elbows are bent 90 degrees.
So if you're only use as much resistance as you can handle when your muscles are at their weakest, don't you think you're shortchanging yourself when it comes to strength and muscle-building?
With this "Hybrid Training" exercise, you're going to dynamically alter the resistance AS YOU'RE DOING THE EXERCISE. When you start, you'll be curling the barbell as usual. But the moment you pass that "weak point" and your biceps are mechanically stronger, the resistance will INCREASE, dramatically ramping up the muscle-building power of the exercise.
This will happen because you will be attaching a cable (or elastic training band) directly to your barbell. I'll give you detailed instructions on how to do that after you learn how to perform the exercise.
This combined targeted resistance means you'll be matching the actual strength curve of the barbell curl MUCH closer (using more resistance when the biceps are in a stronger position). This means MORE muscle growth and more strength because you're pushing biceps to the limit through a MUCH greater range of motion.
How To Do It:
First, you will attach a low-pulley cable to the EZ bar or regular straight barbell (this is explained in detail below). Reach down and pick up the bar, taking a shoulder-width grip on the bar. Use a light to moderate weight on the bar and a light weight on the cable machine – you'll know why you need to start light after doing a few reps of this!
Now take a big step back. This big step changes the angle of resistance that the cable will provide. Rather than pulling it straight up and down, you'll be pulling it up and back.
This is more effective because the barbell curl is NOT a straight up and down movement…it's actually a semi-circular arc movement. Pulling the cable up and back means you're pulling directly backwards towards your face. In the standard barbell curl, you get NO backwards-pulling tension at the top and have to focus on squeezing the biceps hard yourself. With this direct angled tension, you simply won't have a choice and the tension stays on HARD!
Now begin the curl movement. Keep your knees slightly bent, your core tight and your head looking straight forward. Because of the cable pulling you forward, you will need to lean back a little as you perform the exercise.
During the first 2/3 of the range of motion, the cable is not actually moving very much. But as you come towards the top 1/3 of the range of motion, you'll notice the cable curl portion kicking in MUCH more.
As you come to the top, as I mentioned above, you're actually pulling the cable directly towards your face, dramatically increasing the tension on the biceps at the top. This is very useful because you get increasing resistance only AFTER the sticking point (the weakest point) of the exercise.
The biceps are biomechanically stronger in this top range of motion and can handle (and will thrive on!) the increased resistance that you're providing them.
Hold for a 2 count at the top, squeezing the biceps hard, then lower slowly. Repeat for as many reps as you can do with good form then adjust the weight for your next sets, if you need to.
How To Do This Exercise With Bands:
This exercise can also be done using a band attached to a solid object in front of you and looped around the bar (explained below). Use a light-tension band the first time you do this exercise to get a feel for how it's done.
Now, take a big step back to get some tension on the band at the start of the movement. Perform the curl exactly as described in the previous exercise, bringing the barbell towards your face and squeezing hard at the top. The increasing tension in the band puts a powerful contraction on the biceps at the top.
How to Attach the Cable To the Barbell
It's a very simple process to attach a cable to a barbell. All you need to do is loop the cable around the bar and clip it back onto itself. There will be pictures of this process at the link below.
– First, get the barbell set up and place it in front of the cable to be used.
– Next, pull the cable out and loop it once around the bar (in the very center)
– Clip the cable right back onto itself at a point right next to the bar (the weight on the cable stack will automatically tighten up the loop)
The only downside to this setup is that the cable may slide around on the surface of the bar if the bar tilts during the exercise as it has nothing to grip on. If you have a small towel, you can very easily place this on the bar first, then loop the cable on top of the towel. This will help keep the cable from moving or sliding around on the bar.
As a general point, you will almost ALWAYS use less weight on the cable than you will on the barbell. For example, when doing cable-barbell curls, you may use 70 lbs on the bar and 30 lbs on the cable.
How to Attach Bands
To use a band with this exercise, you just need something solid to anchor the band onto. This can be a weight machine or a railing or even a dresser leg at home! It just needs to basically be an immovable object.
It's a simple process to securely tie the bands onto a rail or post – you will use what is called a bale hitch. And you don't need to be in the Navy to figure out how to use it!
To do the bale hitch, loop the entire band around the solid object. You have the two ends in your hands. Now pull one end through the loop of the other end. When you pull that end all the way through so the loop tightens up, it creates a secure hitch.
Make this attachment low to the ground for the band-barbell curl. For the barbell, just loop the other end around the barbell and move it to the very center of the bar. There's no need to hitch it onto the barbell – the tension on the band during the exercise will keep it in place.
The first time you perform this exercise, get ready for an eye-opener! It may not look like you're using much weight on the bar or on the cable but the combined result is huge. The difference in the critical muscle-building tension on the biceps is astonishing!
Nick Nilsson has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been innovating new training techniques for more than 20 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding books including "Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass", "Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss," "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of," "Gluteus to the Maximus – Build a Bigger Butt NOW!" and "The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of", all designed to maximize the results you get for the hard work you put into your training.
Be sure to grab your FREE copy of Nick's 30-day "Dirty Little Secret Program for Building Muscle and Burning Fat FAST," available at http://atozfitness.com/goto/betteru !