As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain,” but what happens when the gym is too crowded to even start your workout routine? The answer may be simpler than you think: adopt a minimal equipment workout that allows you to train your arms from anywhere. While foregoing traditional equipment such as dumbbells and barbells, not to mention weight machines, and utilizing your body weight isn’t anything new, the concern lies in the effectiveness of said workouts. Many see bodyweight training as easy or only used for maintenance. However, you can build appreciable muscle mass if you do bodyweight training correctly. A recent study by the leading researcher in muscular hypertrophy, Brad Schoenfeld, reported that sets performed in the lower rep range and heavier loads (3 sets of 7 reps) and lighter weight with higher reps (25 to 35 reps) yielded similar hypertrophy results.
Let’s look at some advantages of no-equipment training and see if it’s a good fit for your next arm workout:
– The solution to a crowded gym
– Builds muscle mass
– Using little to no equipment will put excitement back into your training
Nothing is more frustrating than entering the gym ready to put your perfect plan for bigger arms into action when you look around and find no place to go. So when every rack, dumbbell, barbell, and machine is occupied, creativity is paramount. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to fall back on. Chin-up bars, suspension trainers, and even the floor become highly effective tools for building larger, sleeve-busting arms.
By now, you know all too well the infamous definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. A no-equipment arm workout will surely spur more than enough diverse stimulation and shock your arms into growing. It’s not just a minor modification of a dumbbell arm curl or a slight shift in elbow angle during a triceps pushdown. It’s an entirely new challenge. The sheer novelty of doing something new will boost motivation and skyrocket your progress to new heights. Science Daily looked at a study concluding that people learn from new experiences without even trying. This trigger can be advantageous when trying new exercises, especially ones you’ve never tried before.
Now let’s look at some specific, highly effective arm exercises when the gym is crowded, and you’re unable to use the traditional means to build your arms, or you just want something new.
Add the following bodyweight biceps exercises to your exercise arsenal:
– Suspension trainer biceps curl
– Biceps chin-up
– Inverted rack curl
– Suspension trainer lateral curl
Generally speaking, muscle activation is greater during suspension training versus comparable traditional movements. A study from the Sports Biomechanics Journal looked at many criteria regarding muscle activation, including electromyographic signals, and found that suspension training was superior to the more traditional moves. For the suspension biceps curl, affix a suspension trainer rig high on a sturdy bar or station. Grasp the handles and place your feet close to the anchor point. Lean back and extend your arms so they are perpendicular to your torso. With your palms facing the ceiling, bend only at your elbows to bring your forehead toward your hands. Your body should remain in a plank position and move toward the anchor point. Once your biceps are contracted and beside your head, reverse the motion and straighten your arms.
If you’re not the best at the chin-up and need to make the exercise a bit easier, you can loop a band around the bar overhead and step into the other end to lessen the body weight lifted. Or you can place your toes on a bench or box to assist you. Either way, work your way to lifting your body weight over time. Another regression is performing the same exercise on a lower rack with your feet on the floor and legs extended out in front of you as if you were going to perform a reverse rack row. To progress the exercise, pause at the top of the movement for a count of two before slowly lowering to the start position.
Think of the inverted rack curl as a combination of the suspension curl and chin-up. Assume a sitting position under a stable bar in a rack or Smith machine. Take an underhand grip above your head and straighten your body from shoulders to feet. Curl your body up and your forehead toward the bar, then return to the bottom extended position. Raising the bar will make the exercise a bit easier since more body weight will be supported by your feet. Lowering the bar raises the difficulty since your arms will be under more total body load.
Stand with your right shoulder closest to the suspension trainer. Grasp the handle with your palm facing the ceiling and extend straight to your side. Your entire arm should be parallel to the floor. Keeping your elbow stationary, curl your hand towards your shoulder. Reverse the motion and return to the start position. Repeat on the opposite side. A simple modification to either progress or regress the difficulty is to adjust your stance. The closer your feet are to the anchor point, the more challenging the exercise. The more your feet are placed below your hips, the easier it is. Whichever variation you choose, keep your elbows high and stationary while performing the move slowly and under control.
In conclusion, a crowded gym can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your arm workout routine. With a little creativity and some knowledge of bodyweight exercises, you can still get an effective workout in without having to fight for equipment. So next time you find yourself in a packed gym, don’t give up on your arm gains. Instead, try some of these no-equipment exercises and see how they work for you.