of "The Best Arm Exercises
You've Never Heard Of"
ebook by Nick Nilsson
"The Best Arm
Exercises" is a very interesting book...68
unique exercises for the bicep, triceps and forearms
ONLY. And I have to say, the level of
creativity and effectiveness these exercises have
to offer is really going to be a BIG eye-opener
for a lot of people.
I mean, what's the
first thing you think of when you think of "arm
training" - if you're like a lot of trainers,
you immediately think barbell curls and pushdowns.
Or dumbell curls and dips, etc.
You don't think "Bodyweight
Preacher Curls" or "Spiderman Rack Push-Ups"...though
if you DO, then I'm not sure what planet
you're from. Maybe the same one Nick is from...
first question you might ask Nick. Is
this just for fun or just fluff training?
And his reasoning
1. Direct Arm Training = Assistance Work for the "Big"
Let's say your
bench press has been stuck for a long time because you
can't seem to get the bar fully locked out at the top
when you move on to using heavy weight. That top range
of motion is a LOT of tricep action. By directly working
the triceps with effective "assistance" exercises,
you can immediately see results that carry over to your
any pressing movement is going to have a substantial tricep
component. What about biceps? Bicep strength
plays a big role in rowing and pulling exercises.
the thing...your body is only as strong as it's weakest
link. If you're doing a
bench press and your triceps are relatively weak, it's
going to LIMIT the uppermost amount of weight you can
push. By directly strengthening your weak links, you can
improve your total strength in many of the big lifts.
Same for an
exercise like chin-ups. Your back may be strong, but if
your bicep (or even forearm!) strength limits your training,
you'll never maximize your performance in that exercise.
application of direct arm training can really make a big
difference in your lifting.
And, of course,
you need to use EFFECTIVE exercises for this purpose,
otherwise you're wasting your time.
As it relates
to this specific point, "The Best Arm Exercises"
has some EXTREMELY targeted stuff that certainly fits
the bill as big exercise "assistance" exercises.
As a strength coach, you've got to look at everything
that can give your athletes an edge. Ruling out direct
arm work just doesn't fit that paradigm.
2. Training Variety
a book full of 68 new exercises is going to give you a
LOT of variety to choose from. Your body thrives on some
degree of variety (though you still DO need to maintain
a level of consistency to achieve a training effect).
acknowledges this as well - in his own training, he says
that it's about 75% "normal" stuff...squats,
deadlifts, bench press, that kind of thing. The other
25% is a rotation of the unique exercises you see presented
in his books and on his site.
to keep some consistency in order to see results - shotgunning
all over the place won't get you where you want to go.
When asked about this specific point, he said...
the approach you have to take with this type of
resource - take your time with it and pick out
a few exercises you want to try. Use them the
next time you train arms and see how they work
for you. Generally speaking, if an exercise is
going to work for you, you'll feel it pretty quickly.
Stick with the ones you get the biggest effect
from then gradually work in OTHER exercises on
a rotational basis like a continuous audition
process at a soap opera.
good as these exercises are, I'm quite sure there
will be ones that don't work equally as well for
everybody. You have to experiment and find out
what works best for YOU. Then work it HARD!"
Let's say you're
a powerlifter and you've been training the "Big 3"
lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) almost exclusively
for months. Now it's time to back off and "deload"
(basically reduce your training volume to facilitate recovery
in the muscular and nervous system).
This is a GREAT
time to work in specialty exercises like the ones Nick
puts forward in his book (it also goes back to the assistance
work I was talking about earlier).
Compound Exercises Included
One of the
very nice things Nick has done with this book is included
plenty of compound exercises...not hard to find for the
triceps in normal exercises (think of dips, close grip
bench press, etc.) but tougher to find for biceps.
the exercises are variations of pull-ups or rows that
make adjustments in setup and/or execution in order to
change the focus from back to biceps. They're VERY simple
to execute and WOW do they really have potential.
standout exercise in that department is the Nilsson Curl,
which can be best described as a chin-up with your forearms
braced against a bar set about a foot lower than the one
you're gripping on.
As Nick explains
it, this bracing keeps you from being able to pull your
body straight up, which normally engages the lats. By
blocking your forearms like this, it forces you to pull
yourself up and around in an arc with the elbow as the
pivot. This is almost ALL biceps (80 to 90%) with assistance
being provided by the lats instead of the other way around.
actually SEE this exercise in action as one of the sample
exercises on Nick's site for the book. Very cool exercise
and it's a great twist on a classic exercise to really
change the focus to biceps and work it as a compound exercise.
Yep, arm training
IS fun. It's the stuff you do when you've earned it with
the hard deadlifts, squats, pulls and presses. It helps
keep your mind fresh and your motivation high!
Things That Could Be Improved About
The title of
this book pretty much describes what this book is all
about...unique exercises. One thing that would be a nice
addition would be some targeted sample workouts for working
those exercises into a program.
I asked Nick
about this and he told me that it's a secret (not a very
good one now, I guess) but he's got several unannounced
bonus gifts for people when they pick up the book that
will address this. He wanted to keep it as a surprise
but if it's something that's holding you back from grabbing
the book, don't let it because it's not going to be an
The last of
the 3 bonuses is actually something that NOBODY
has ever seen before. Really interesting stuff there.
The only other
thing that jumps out at me is that there aren't really
many forearm exercises in the book at the moment (5 for
the forearms compared to 33 for the biceps and 30 for
the triceps). Nick told me he's going to be addressing
this in updates to the book as he definitely knows the
forearm stuff needs to be beefed up.
When you get
the book, you'll also get free updates for life, so that'll
be moot point, too. Not like the other 63 exercises won't
keep you fairly busy for awhile anyway!
Now, if you've
seen the exercises that Nick posts on his site, you'll
know exactly what this book is all about...very cool,
very effective exercises that will totally make you look
like a crazy person at the gym. In a good way, of course
are very well thought out and have a lot of potential
both for improving your arms AND for helping improve your
"big" exercises through assistance training.
Plus, the exercises
are just plain fun!