You’ll see several variations on a theme here, as there are many ways to skin the cat on this exercise. Personally, I favor using an EZ curl bar on a SLIGHT incline bench. Here’s why… By inclining a flat bench slightly, you accentuate the stretch on the muscles while under load. As you likely know by reading the Blueprint that I’m a BIG fan, of loaded stretch position movements. Secondly (and this is little known), by moving the hands just slightly farther out vs. say, when using a dumbbell – it imparts a “widening” effect on the pecs, delts and entire upper body. Perhaps most importantly, DB’s in gyms these days seldom go past 100lbs.
If you choose to build your upper body with this exercise, you’re going to quickly exceed that. Not every gym is going to have 150lb plus dumbbells but virtually any gym you set foot in will have an EZ curl bar and plenty of plates.
In July of 1970, a groundbreaking article appeared in the then excellent magazine IRONMAN – penned by the late Arthur Jones. It’s title, “The Upper Body Squat”. Jones shrewdly pointed out that the largest muscular mass in the upper body is found in the lats (latissimus muscles). There was a problem to overcome though, and the problem was this – you can’t work them directly, because in order to hit the lats, you had to work the arms. Given the arms are much smaller and weaker muscles they represented the weak link in the chain. Total growth stimulation of the lats is impossible, because the arms become exhausted long before the lats get worked hard enough to achieve the desired level of growth stimulation.
The potential growth of the lats is enormous, and virtually nobody comes close to tapping that growth given the above cited limitations. More importantly, if you could tap into that kind of growth stimulation, it would have an incredible “knock on” effect in terms of stimulating growth ALL OVER the body. This seemingly magical combination of hard and heavy leg training followed by loaded stretch position pullovers has been seen before. Those of you who have read the book, “Super Squats” by Randall J. Strossen know exactly what I’m referring to. Few combinations can hold a candle to this dynamic duo, and I’d encourage you to combine them in the fashion I espouse here (Russian Step Ups and Bent Arm Pullovers).
I’ve expanded upon the merits of the bent arm pullover by applying just the right loading, given some new information I came across. I hope you’ll consider this movement vs. the bench press, at least for a stretch. The growth stimulation potential far exceeds any other upper body movement, and the all important lats (which are the antagonistic muscle groups usually lagging, in people who bench for years on end), can finally be brought into balance. In one movement, you’ll stimulate growth in the pecs, delts, lats and the ENTIRE body.
While the squat and bench press have dominated lower/upper body training re- spectively in this country, such hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I think we’ve been doing ourselves a disservice by dismissing these excellent alternatives stated above. There was a period during which old time strongmen developed gargan- tuan, drug free physiques using the step up and pullover, and I think the time has come to bring them back. You can always return to the bench/squat if you so choose…
The combined growth stimulation of the barbell step up and the extreme loaded stretch that is the incline, bent arm pullover is simply magnificent. I’m confident I’ve found better solutions for you, and you will be too when these are put into practice.