Q: I’m getting new mass and cuts using the Fat-to-Muscle Workout. Just the right amount of soreness to burn fat and add muscle. I can see it happening when I look in the mirror. The only bodypart not getting it is biceps. I do cable curls with the Negative Accentuated technique because you’ve said it’s superior to barbell curls. I do two seconds up and then six seconds down on every rep, but I don’t get that deep ache like my biceps were worked hard enough. Should I move slower on the NA set or what?
A: To clarify, we’ve said cable curls are superior to barbell curls when you want to incorporate X Reps at the end of a set. X Reps are eight-inch partials you add at the semi-stretch point when you can’t do any more full-range reps.
End-of-set X-Rep partials are impossible on barbell curls due to the radical leverage shift during the first few inches of the stroke; trying to add X Reps near the bottom after full-range exhaustion ain’t gonna happen. But with cable curls you get a more even resistance through the stroke, so you can add X Reps or a static hold at the X Spot. Sounds like cable curls are the better choice, but not so with a negative-accentuated set…
Any machine with a weight stack has drag due to friction—no matter how much it’s greased. On cable curls, for example, as you curl up, the stack is dragging on the guide rods, which makes the positive stroke harder. Then on the negative, or lowering, the drag actually makes the weight lighter—not what you want if you’re looking for more fat-to-muscle microtrauma…
So what you’re experiencing on cable curls is positive failure too early due to weight-stack drag. That means you get fewer negative reps. Also, each slow negative is lighter than it should be due to weight-stack drag. Your biceps are losing out on two fronts. (We love machines, but in this case, free weights are the better choice.)
Solution: Try regular barbell curls for your NA set—two seconds up, six seconds down. If a straight bar hurts your wrists, use dumbbells or an EZ-curl bar. Either way, you’ll produce more microtrauma with heavier negatives on every rep compared to cable curls, and that means bigger biceps with a superior fat-to-muscle aftereffect.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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