Keep the elbows in tight, upper arm locked in its position and lift the weight with the bicep. That has been the prescribed way of doing a curl. But increasingly, personal trainers and fitness buffs are learning the value of making more natural movements when working out.
How Muscles Work
The active muscle that moves the body, contracts, pulling the bone toward the muscle and then movement is created. But rarely does one muscle do all the lifting itself. As the body moves, many muscles become engaged.
Walking or running for instance, requires the use of quadriceps (the thigh muscles), calves, and hamstrings and it also requires core muscles to engage to help keep the body upright; arms swing in unison to provide balance.
Hardly ever does the body move in a robotic straight pattern where only one muscle is doing the work. But until recently, that is how workouts have been put together. Isolate the muscle and watch it grow.
The theory behind adding more natural movements to a workout is to strengthen muscles for everyday use, not just to build bigger muscles that look good.
Where to Add a Twist to a Workout
Almost any exercise can have a twist added to it. Some of the easiest ones to add a twist to are curls and ab exercises.
A good arm exercises to add a twist to is the standing curl. Grab two dumbbells, one in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder with apart and the palms of the hand facing backward. Raise the weight and turn the forearm over so the palms are facing up and lead the way to the shoulder. Lower the weight and raise the weight in the opposite hand in the same manner. This not only works the bicep but the outer tricep and forearm muscles as well.
Another great arm exercise with a twist is the static curl into a standing military press. Again stand with feet shoulder width apart this time with the palms of the hand facing to the front. Raise both dumbbells at the same time in a straight curl manner. When the dumbbells reach the shoulders, lift them straight up, turning the palms so they face out again as the arms reach all the way up and the weight slightly touches above the head. Return to the shoulders twisting the palms so they face inward again and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Twist for a Stronger Core
The core is the best place to ad a twist to any workout. The core area has several muscles and in order to work each one, the abdomin needs to twist in different ways. Straight sit ups really only work the top four muscles of a traditional six pack.
Adding a twist to an ab routine is as simple as simply turning the torso at the top of the sit up. When lifting the upper body, place the elbow on the outside of the opposite knee. Lower and repeat on the same side.
To really increase core strength, try a lumberjack twists. Lumberjack twists can be done with resistance bands or with a weight machine. Select a weight or a resistance and stand perpendicular to the machine or band with arms reaching back toward the machine. Keeping the arms straight, bring the handle forward so that the body twists and the arms are pointing away from the machine or band. The motion is much like swinging a baseball bat. Do each side about 20 times and then repeat on the opposite side.
To increase the number of muscles worked, change the angle of the arms as they are brought through the exercise, one time going directly straight across the body, the next time a little higher and then another time a little lower.