#1 - Nilsson Curls - The
Best Bicep Exercise EVER...
If you want to TRULY
maximize your bicep mass, you're going to LOVE
this exercise. It's one of my very favorite for building
The reason I named it
after myself is that it basically summarizes what
I'm all about - doing everything completely "backwards"
and getting MUCH better results!
That, plus I thought
it would cool to have at least ONE exercise name after
myself when this one really catches on :)
The Nilsson Curl
looks almost exactly like a chin-up.
In fact, another name
I've called this exercise is the "Forearm-Braced
Chin-Up". Because what you'll be doing IS a chin-up...but
you'll be doing that chin-up with your forearms braced
against another bar so that the VAST
majority of the tension goes to your biceps instead
of your back.
Just so you know up front,
you'll need to be able to do probably 6 to 10 or so regular
chins before you can really use this exercise. If
you can't yet do that many chins, don't worry!
I'm also including a "standing" version below
that allows you to set your feet on the ground and spot
yourself throughout the movement.
I mean think about it - imagine
the kind of growth response you'll get from an exercise
that puts the full tension of almost your entire bodyweight
directly onto your biceps...
That's the beauty of this
exercise - it's a bodyweight exercise, which means increased
muscle fiber activation AND you use your entire bodyweight
to do it.
How To Do It:
To do this exercise, you'll
need a rack or a chin-up bar that allows you to set another
close underneath it. Alternatively, you can also use the
metal ladder of playground apparatus (that works quite well,
Set the racking pins (where
you would normally rack the bar on a squat, for instance)
to the highest point you can on the rack.
Now move the safety rails
to a point that is about 8 to 12 inches below that (you
can play with this height when you try the exercise to get
the best dimensions for you).
Set a bar on the top racking
pins and set another bar on the safety rails, pushed
up against the uprights. It's going to look like two rungs
of a ladder.
In my own setup, I load the
top bar with weight plates to keep it from moving. You may
find you need to do this with yours, too.
Quick note on setup...if
you have a power rack that has pins that you can slide in
and out of the frame (I don't - mine are integrated right
into the rack) you can also more easily get this set up
by setting one safety rail in the top set of holes then
the other safety rail in a set of holes below (making your
own ladder, essentially). That's the easiest way to set
this up and how I used to do it when I had access to a rack
that I could do it with.
Now get in the rack and take
a close, underhand grip on the top bar. Your forearms should
be braced up against the bottom bar, just above your elbows.
Your arms should be straight when you're at the bottom.
Now start doing a chin-up.
As you pull yourself up, your forearms will press against
the bottom bar. THIS is what changes it into
a biceps-oriented movement.
Pull yourself all the way
up until your nose is at the top bar then lower slowly.
That's the exercise! And it's
a TOUGH one...I don't care how strong your biceps are. It's
going to challenge and you will LOVE the way it feels.
When I used to train at a
commercial gym, I showed this one to a guy who was built
like a gymnast...HUGE biceps, not very big legs. He did
5 reps, his arms swelled up like balloons and he couldn't
wipe the grin off his face.
So as you get stronger with
it, you can also add weight by holding a dumbell between
your feet or wearing a dip belt. But that's VERY advanced.
This exercise is just BRUTAL even with just your bodyweight.
Do it FIRST in your
bicep routine (trust me). You won't need to do a whole lot
of anything else for bi's when you do 3 or 4 sets of this
Standing Nilsson Curls -
A Useful Adaptation
This version is excellent for when
you're either not strong enough to do the "free
hanging" version above where you're using your
entire bodyweight for resistance or if you're just
too fatigued from previous training to do enough
reps to really get much out of it.
It's basically the
exact same exercise only instead of setting the
two bars up high, you set them a bit lower so you
can keep your feet on the ground and spot yourself
by standing up when you need help!
When it comes to hitting
the biceps (even with your feet down), the difference
between this exercise and a regular chin-up is just
AMAZING. You'll feel almost ALL the tension
go right into the biceps.
So here's what the
standing version looks like. You can do this in
rack, using the set up I have here or you can use
the safety rails in the rack, same as I mentioned
above - just set the two rails into one side so
they look like ladder rungs - it'll give you the
With this version,
I have a bar setting in the racking pins and a bar
sitting on top of the rails. I have the weight on
the top bar to help keep it from moving. You want
about a foot spacing in between the two bars.
You'll be gripping
the top bar and bracing your forearms on the bottom
So stand in front
of the bar and get a grip - a little inside shoulder
width - underhand grip.
Set your feet a little
forward then squat down.
Now pull yourself
up, as though you were doing a chin-up. Use your
legs only as much as you need to for
help. The majority should be bicep pull.
Pull all the way to
the top and squeeze your biceps HARD.
Lower and repeat.
Remember, use help from your legs only as much as
you need to.
You can also use this
setup to do negative reps, standing up on the positive
and taking your feet off the ground to use your
full bodyweight on the negative.
Your biceps will be
on fire after a few sets of this one - a bodyweight
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