Having toned strong biceps is no longer taboo for women. Whether it is on the red carpet or on the beach you will see many female celebrities with their toned chest and biceps. Toning your chest and biceps isn't difficult -- with a little weight and a consistent program you too can see results.
Your chest is comprised of two muscles: pectoralis major and pectoralis minor which lie beneath the major. Getting a toned and sculpted chest will not affect your breast size. The breasts are comprised of adipose tissue which contains the mammory glands. This tissue sits on top of the pectoralis major. Any change in size would be as a result of weight loss that occurs due to your training program. Sculpting your chest should include both multi-joint and single-joint or isolation exercises. Multi-joint exercises incorporate more than one joint such as the bench press, incline press and pushups which work the chest and shoulders. Isolation exercises include a straight arm pullover and chest fly’s done with either a dumbbell or cable.
The biceps, much like your chest, are made up of several muscles: biceps brachii long head, biceps brachii short head and the brachialis. The long head of the biceps is the most visible of the three muscles. Biceps exercises are isolation exercises and with just a slight change of hand positions you can work various parts of the biceps. Barbell curls using a narrow grip will focus on the long head, while a wider grip focuses on the short head. Dumbbell hammer curls use a neutral grip and work the entire biceps as well as the forearm. High pulley curls work both the long head and short head as well.
Supersets are a specific type of resistance training which allows you to rest one muscle group while working another. There are three types of supersets: the classic set, pre-exhaustion set, and the post-exhaustion superset. The classic superset works best if your goal is to gain strength. When you use a classic superset, once you finish one exercise you go straight into another exercise of the same type. An example would be going from a chest press to an incline press -- both are multi-joint exercises. Pre-exhaustion supersets should be used if you are looking to tone. In this set, you will start out with an isolation exercise such as a bicep curl then immediately move on to a multi-joint exercise such as the bench press. In the post-exhaustion superset, you will do the opposite of the pre-exhaustion. This set works best for those that want to gain strength and tone. You will start with a multi-joint exercise such as an incline chest press, then move to an isolation exercise like hammer curls.
Whatever set you choose be sure to also choose a weight that will allow you to perform an adequate amount of repetitions and sets. The amount of repetitions and sets that you do will also depend on your goal. If you are looking to gain strength you will want to perform fewer repetitions but more sets. If you are looking to tone, aim for more repetitions with fewer sets. Your muscles should become increasingly tired with each set; overloading or fatiguing them is what causes them to grow not only in strength but also in size.
- The Strength Training Anatomy Workout; Frederic Delavier
Rebecca Wylie has more than 10 years experience in health and fitness. She has worked as a personal trainer, exercise instructor, competed in a fitness competition and has several half marathons under her belt. She also holds a master's degree in sport and health science.