Biceps and triceps supersets, in which you alternate biceps and triceps exercises without rest, work really well. A good, basic superset for arms is the barbell curl alternated with the cable triceps pressdown. Take the barbell to the cable machine, that way you eliminate any rest between sets. This really helps to maximise the blood flow into your arms. A lot of bodybuilders have built great arms doing this kind of superset.
The delts are more like the endurance muscles you see with calves or forearms and they can handle more reps. Some athletes who are really gifted can do heavy barbell or dumbbell presses and just grow easily. If you have problems gaining size try giant sets (where you combine 4-5 exercises and complete them consecutively with no rest between). It is really intense and you will feel a killer pump on your shoulders. Do a giant set with dumbbell lateral raises, dumbbell shoulder presses, upright rows and bent-over lateral raises for 10 reps each exercise, or 40 reps to total. If your shoulders are not responding from heavy training, this type of advanced supersetting will really work.
I like to train heavy, but I really see only competitive lifters using chalk. Can it benefit me as a bodybuilder? And, if so, on which lifts?
Chalk has the same basic advantage as straps: A better grip. Serious powerlifters use it all the time, but it does not offer the same benefit as the straps – it does not “lighten the load” in the same way, but it does make your grip less of a limiting factor. The difference is that the chalk’s main function is to simple to keep your hands dry. If you have ever had a serious deadlifting day, you know you can work up a mean sweat and the last thing you want is the barbell slipping from your hands at a crucial part of the lift. This can result in injury. If you are at a gym that allows chalk, use it. If not, then straps may be a better alternative. Best alternative? Wipe your hands dry and pull the weight raw.
One of the best ways to improve your strength is by moving nothing at all.
If your goal is strength, putting a zero-movement strategy into your repertoire could be exactly what you need.
By way a review, a static contraction, also known as an isometric, is one which the muscular force equals the external resistance, producing no movement whatsoever. For example, you loaded up the barbell on the bench press with much more than your 1RM (one rep max) and began pressing against it with all your might, you would have a static contraction. Even if the bar didn’t budge, despite the lack of movement a ton of muscular activity would be going on inside the muscle.
Research confirms you can produce more force and strength statically than you can during positive contractions. How can this benefit you in terms of strength? You need to look no further than your nearest sticking point. A static-training plan can help you blast past those sticking points that usually act as roadblocks. The good news is that you can apply the technique to just about any exercise from the squats to overhead press even to bicep curls. Be warned, though: it is more difficult than it looks. Applying continual maximal effort without movement is brutal and effective.
One key factor to keep in mind is that, although strength increases are associated with static training, they are angle specific. When you train statically at a particular angle, you gain strength and size only at that angle. Take for instance the overhead press. If you worked statically at one particular point along the path of the ROM, you would gain strength there and nowhere else. The gain in strength is not necessarily distributed along the entire range of motion. For this reason, you need to apply static training at various places.
The Weak Link
So where do you start? Go straight to the weakest point of your range of motion, which is near the bottom of most exercises. If you are working on the bench press, set the safety bars to the sticking point and load up the bar. Forget about it being your “weakest point” and be sure to load more weight than you could normally move so that you are certain to have absolutely no movement. If you are working out at peak gym hours or you do not feel comfortable putting that much weight on the bar, you can work with and empty bar, but from underneath the safeties. Simply press the bar up into the safeties as hard as possible.
A couple of items to note: On your pressing movements be very careful not al allow your hands to slip. Using chalk during static training is a good idea, because if your hands slip, your wrists can sustain severe injury, second, for the pulling movements throw on some pulling straps to make sure your pulls are not hindered by your grip strength. If you do not wear straps, use chalk instead.
Adding a static day a couple of times a month into your routine across all bodyparts will help trigger serious strength gains. The better able you are to blast through sticking points, the more weight you will ultimately move during standard weight training sessions.
Heavy incline barbell presses are a well-known chest-builder, but they can be dangerous if you are training alone. Done in the Smith machine, they will hit your upper pecs through a full range of motion with less risk of injury. You can work in some partials to train weaker parts of the movement. Finish off with a set of incline presses with a huge drop set, removing plates and getting right back under the bar each time you hit failure. This technique flushes the muscle with blood and takes you well past failure. Partials and drops on the incline Smith should help your chest a great deal.