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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Anatomy Lesson: Muscles of the Arms

The very first time I saw Mario Schafzahl, the #1 thing that stood out for me was his magnificent arms. I would be hardpressed to name another man who wielded spectacularly well-defined arms that were shaped and sized perfectly compared to the rest of his body.

Last time, I quizzed your prior knowledge of the muscles on the side. For today's lesson, I will first lecture on the muscles of the arms, and then administer a quiz to review what you learned at the end of this post.

Let's of course talk first talk about the biceps...quite possibly the skeletal muscle most associated with manliness...the muscle one would make when asked to 'make a muscle'. The biceps brachii as they are formally called are named so because they have TWO points of attachment (heads) at the shoulders, and another point of attachment at the radius (one of the bones of the forearms). The main goal of the bicep is to bend the arm at the elbow, but they also participate in rotational movements of the forearm.
Bicep curls of many kind are the bread and butter of developing the biceps. Whether you use barbells, dumbbells, or cables, proper form is always necessary. An advanced lifter like Mario also knows that to get great definition of the two heads that attach to the shoulder, he must position his hands differently (close grip will emphasize the long (outer) head while the wide grip will emphasize the short (inner) head.
Also, because the back muscles and biceps often work together in compound exercises, Mario and other lifters will likely train these two muscles on the same day.

Now let's talk about triceps. Most of the mass of the upper arm actually comes from a well-developed tricep. The triceps brachii as they are formally called are named so for the three heads that attach around the shoulder area, and they also have a point of attachment at the ulna of the forearm. Though there are three heads, only two of them make the horseshoe shape of a well-developed tricep. The main purpose of the triceps is to extend your arms, thus they are most useful when you're trying to push heavy things away from you.
There are many ways to develop the triceps. While the bench press and push ups are known to develop the chest, the triceps must be recruited to performance these exercises, so most experienced lifters will focus on the chest and triceps on the same training day. Of course there are exercises that focus solely on the triceps, and below, Mario is performing the skullcrusher, where he will keep his upper arm straight up while bending only his elbow to gradually lower the barbell to his forehead or a little above it, and then straightened his arms to starting position.

There is yet another major muscle of the upper arm that is rarely talked about. It is called the brachialis anticus (brachialis for short), and it appears as a cylindrical strip of muscle between the biceps and triceps of a well-developed arm. You can definitely see them in the picture below of Mario.
The brachialis is synergistic to the bicep (helps perform the same movement), but in order to develop this muscle, bicep curls should be done where the wrist/palm is turned toward the inside for the majority of the movement (neutral grip). Mario demonstrates the hammer curl below.

We now move down to the forearms. They are the muscles Pop-Eye is known for, and frankly, I am super turned on when a guy has superior looking forearms. There are quite a number of forearm muscles, and I won't even pretend to know them all. But if you look at your forearm with your palm facing towards you, the biggest muscle on the outside is called the brachioradialis. Again with palm facing you, flex your wrist (bend the wrist so the palm is closer to you), the muscles that are tightening include the flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and palmaris longus. When you see the back of your hand and extend your wrist (bend it so that your knuckles come closer to you), you'll engage three extensor muscles.
Training the forearms mostly means bending the wrists while keeping the rest of your arms still. It can also involve gripping something heavy and big enough to spread out your fingers. Another exercise is to perform a barbell curl with an overhand/reverse grip (your wrist/palm facing towards you in the starting position).

Finally, let's move up the arm and talk about the shoulders. The three muscles that form a powerful cap to the arms are called deltoids--anterior (front), lateral (middle), and (posterior) rear. I believe this is the muscle group that makes Mario stand out from the competition.
Most of the shoulder exercises (such as military pres,s or the front lateral raise that Mario is performing below) will target the anterior and lateral deltoid, but it is the smaller rear deltoid that is hardest to develop. Therefore, when all three of the deltoids are developed perfectly, that is indeed what I call a "Definition of a Man".


Men du jour said...

Love all these anatomy lessons. :)

Hot guys pictures said...

I agree, Mario Schafzahl's biceps are incredible. <3

Rex said...

That picture from behind with the mirror, has got to be one of the best I ever seen.