3 Lifts to Build More Muscle: With a Twist
3 Lifts to Build More Muscle: With a Twist
Twisted Lateral Raises:
Everyone knows the Lateral Raise. Start with the weights at your sides; raise your upper arms to until the elbows are shoulder height (like a human letter ‘T’). But to really put caps on your arms, the lift needs a twist.
As you finish each rep at shoulder height, turn your hands so that your pinky finger is higher than your thumb. To put it differently, twist each of the dumbbells as though you were pouring water out of a pitcher when you reach the top. The slight “pouring” twist tremendously improves the growth potential of the medial deltoid. It’s a tiny investment with a huge pay off.
- Stop at shoulder level (parallel with the ground).
- Try building up to one heavy set, then doing lighter weight “pump” sets of 20 reps. Keep the form especially strict on the longer sets – no using your legs or back to generate momentum. Don’t go ALL the way down at the bottom, to where the weight hangs. Keep your delts under constant tension by stopping just before the bottom of each rep.
- Experiment with gripping the handle of the dumbbell all the way forward and all the way backward on some sets (try a set with your thumb touching the weight, try a set with your pinky finger touching the other side on the next set), continuing to use the “pouring out a pitcher of water” movement at the top of each rep. There’s no rule that says we have to grab the dumbbell by exactly the middle of the handle. Live a little.
Twisted Dumbbell Curls:
Completely activate the bicep to unlock greater growth: Grip the dumbbell’s handle near the ‘outside’ (so that when your palms are up, your thumb is closest to the weight). Curl the dumbbells up as you normally would. As you near the top, twist the weight inward, as though you were trying to touch your pinky to the front of your shoulder and squeeze the bicep as hard as you can for 3 seconds. Repeat until you’re tearing the sleeves of your t-shirts.
- It will be awkward the first time, and you will use less weight. Start with 50% of what you consider “very heavy” for a set of curls.
- Start by doing one side at a time, so you can focus on form with each rep. If you alternate left/right, DO NOT SWING. The right side should not start going up until the left side is down and still. Momentum cheats this lift of all the gains it can offer.
- Because the weight doesn’t need to be super heavy, this lift makes a great finisher. Try placing it at the end of a biceps workout.
Twisted Flat Dumbbell Bench Press:
Who DOESN’T want better upper chest development? Introducing the 180-degree twisting dumbbell bench press. A twist at the top of this motion enables one to take advantage of the supine grip (pinkies facing inwards, toward one another, as during bicep curls), which allows greater activation of the upper portion of the pectoralis major.
As you perform this lift, begin by lying back on a bench holding two dumbbells in a pronated grip position (palms facing forward, as you normally do with any bench press) over your chest. Begin the eccentric portion of the lift by lowering the dumbbells towards the outer region of the chest. Once the dumbbells reach the outer portion of the chest (or are lowered to a range of motion that is comfortable for you), press and rotate 180 degrees until you are back to the original starting position, this time, however, in a supine grip (pinkies facing inwards, toward one another).
- Note that you will use significantly less weight. Start with 40% of your 1 rep max and work up to 50 or 60% of 1 rep max once the lift begins feeling more controlled and comfortable.
- Don’t feel the need to fully lock out your elbows at the top of each rep, and concentrate on really squeezing the pecs at the top as you twist the weights inward.
- Most people feel an even stronger contraction and pump in the upper chest if they allow their shoulders to come forward at the top of each rep. While general bench press dogma promotes locking the shoulders back, this lift bends some rules in favor of maximally contracting the pecs.
- Remember, this lift isn’t about setting a 1 rep max PR with massive weight. It’s about stretching and then squeezing the upper chest like you never have before to unlock new growth.