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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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shoulders and biceps in music

(vyus, I'm thinking of you here. Among others.)

I had a tremendous session with these two muscle groups yesterday, and I wanted to make note of it. I began with dumbbell military presses for shoulders with 20-lb bells. I did 8 sets of 32 reps with those in time with track four of the Propellerheads' seminal album, Decksanddrumsandrockandroll. That track, called Better?, is a medium-tempo funk groove with lots of light snare and horns -- a great warm-up tune.

Track 5 of the same record, Oh Yeah? is a slightly slower funk groove that I used to start biceps, still with the 20-lb bells. By doing one rep per arm per beat, I got in 8 sets of 32 reps per arm with that tune. Then I took a water break, skipped to track 7, and picked up the dumbbells again.

It had occurred to me that a bicep curl could be extended to a shoulder press in one fluid movement. That's what I tried next. Both arms simultaneously, I lifted up the dumbbells in a bicep curl, then twisted each dumbbell 180 degrees and pushed them straight up into the air with my shoulders. I did negative reps to bring the weights back down, lowering my arms at the same speed with which I lifted them. I kept that up. By the time the bridge of that tune kicked in, I started to feel the burn in my arms. Within another 16 reps, I needed a 2-beat rest break between reps. But I kept that going for as long as I could stand it before getting up, sweating, for another water break.

Next I attacked the shoulders. Still with the 20's, I lifted them in an upright row to my chin, then lowered them back down to do a dumbbell side raise. I repeated this two-bit pattern until I needed the 2-beat rest break, and then till failure. My shoulders were really on fire now, and I felt great. And at this point, I'd only been lifting for about 10 minutes.

Track 8 came on, and that's one of the real rockers on the album. That dirty techno-funk bassline has sired most of the greatest drum&bass lines since that point. It was here that I sat down on the bench and started doing concentration curls for biceps. And this is also when I achieved Bicep Nirvana. I did those curls until I couldn't do them anymore, and then I found that I could actually keep doing them anyway! I was going for failure, but I never achieved it because the muscles in my arms just kept pulling through. They were exhausted and hot to the touch, but they just kept pumping, over and over and over again. I felt like I was flying.

This morning my arms feel like iron. I plan to thrash my triceps today like that. And when I do upper arms again next week, I'm bumping up the weight to 25 lbs so that I can hit true failure next time.