Slow and Heavy: Biceps and Triceps

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

I did Triceps and Biceps about 36 hours after Chest and Back. I waited to make sure my triceps weren't sore from the chest work (nope, just my pecs). The format of most of this workout is 3 sets of 8 slow reps (6 up, 2 down) with a long rest in between sets.

Cathe starts out with triceps. Nothing really new here, just working them from various angles, but it was really challenging at the slow pace. We start out with overhead tricep extensions with one heavy dumbbell. I started with about 18 lbs and had to drop to about 14. Then it's lying extensions with one dumbbell in each hand. Cathe says you can modify to one-armed crossover kickbacks (a la Pure Strength) if this is uncomfortable. I did one set with 8 lbs and then dropped to 5. My triceps were really trembling in this one. Then kickbacks are done with your upper body in a table position and a scapular retraction. I wimped out and ended up dropping to 5 and then 3 lbs. Finally, we do dips, and they are tough! Cathe says you can put a weight in your lap, but none of the exercisers demonstrates this. I put dumbbells on my step to take some of the tension off of my wrists.

On to biceps. I don't have very strong biceps so I used fairly low weights, but I think I went too low. We start with dumbbell bicep curls with a 10-degree tilt forward to keep you from using momentum and to focus the effort on your bicep muscles only. I started with 14 lbs and soon dropped to 8 (I need 10 and 12 lbs!) which was probably too easy. Then we do hammer curls and barbell curls. These were so tough for me because they were so similar to the dumbbell curls and I went light - 25, then 20 lbs on the barbell curls. I have to confess I let out an embarrassing cry of agony during the SLOW barbell curls. My window was open and I'm sure the neighbors heard it! It probably sounded like something X-rated ;-) Finally, Cathe puts in some forearm and wrist work. With the heavy barbell we do wrist curls (seated, palms up, forearms resting on your thighs and you curl the barbell up, then back down so it's resting in your fingers). Then you flip your palms down and do reverse wrist curls with light dumbbells. Cathe and I used 5 lbs (one of the few times I could match her weight). I really appreciate these exercises because my wrists are weak. Cathe also mentions that it's important to strengthen your forearms for every day activities.

Finally, we end with an abs segment. We start with standard Cathe ab work, and then do two oblique exercises lying on one side. The first is with your legs raised and your top arm behind your head and moving towards your legs. Cindy Crawford's first video has a similar exercise - that made me nostalgic for my early video days! Then you bring your legs slightly forward and lift them up while your top arm is straight and pulls down. Hard to describe, but I really felt it in my side. The ending stretch is short, but for a moment you just lie on your back and it makes me want to do a guided yoga relaxation.

This workout was not as interesting to me as Chest and Back because the exercises are nothing new and different, just the pace. Like I said before, my arms aren't very strong so I couldn't go very heavy. It remains to be seen whether I worked hard enough to see strength gains. Part of the problem is that I didn't have the right dumbbell weight and I'll need to make adjustments next time. Still, a very well-designed workout with lots of attention to proper form. I will continue to use this as part of the series, but it's not my favorite one.

Caroline Kim