Slow and Heavy: Biceps and Triceps

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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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


Before I start Iíd like to give you a little background. My preferred method of lifting is abbreviated training (compound lifts, heavy weights, and very little isolation work) and I was looking for a change when I picked up the Slow and Heavy tapes. This is a very different style of lifting than Iím used to.

The biceps and triceps tape continues the 2 count 6 count rep scheme of the other two tapes in the series. But this tapes feels as though itís much too high volume given the size the muscles weíre working here compared to the muscles in the legs and core.

She starts out with one of my least favorites, the overhead french press/elbow killer. It's all 3 sets of 8 again. Then goes into triceps extensions when you're lying on your back, then kickbacks, then dips. Now why would you put dips after all of those? Why not do it first since it's one of the heaviest exercises? I like doing the hardest ones first. Maybe she didnít do them at the beginning because after the isolation work the triceps give out well before the chest which also gets hit with the dips.

Then it's into biceps work dumbbell curls, hammer curls, and barbell curls. Same count scheme. Why do 4 triceps exercises and only 3 biceps exercises especially since triceps get hit pretty hard with the chest work but biceps don't really get hit very hard with the back work in the back tape.

I like the barbell forearm work that follows the biceps and triceps work. She does wrist curls and then reverse wrist curls. It's nice to see that she's adding some accessory work into these workouts.

Then off to a short but tough relatively traditional ab routine.

My confession? I only did 2 sets of each of these because it feels like overkill for such small muscle groups. I also didn't break a sweat in this workout. It was demanding in a burning sort of way but when I was finished I felt like I hadn't done anything of substance.

I do admit that I find these slow moves much more demanding than a rep at a regular speed. I also feel it more in my joints, particularly my elbows with the triceps works.

I donít think Iíll be doing this tape on a regular basis. Iíll probably throw in a set or two of biceps curls after one of the other workouts because I think the chest tape really hits the triceps and Iím not looking for eyepopping biceps.

Anne V


I use this series differently than the majority of Vfers. I rarely spend an entire hour doing strength work Ė I prefer to do aerobics followed by 10 to 30 minutes of strength. I let these sit unused for the longest time, because I never seemed to find the time to devote a whole hour to one of them. Then it dawned on me (duh) there was no need to do the entire thing Ė these are perfectly broken up into 10-minute-or-so sections, and I can just tack them on to the cardio. Once I had that stroke of brilliance :) these became absolute favorites. I do one to three sections at a time, and, as everyone else has pointed out, the exercises are very challenging, so I donít feel Iím missing a thing. I go a little heavier than I would if I were doing a whole hour, so it probably all balances out in the end anyway. This series is so complete and perfect that Iíve been able to weed out my collection a lot. Between these, Giladís Quick Fit, and Cory Everson, I feel Iíve got all I need or want (till the next Cathe series comes out, anyway :) ). Grade A+.

Annie S.


I'm getting into this series again after two years of not doing it, and enjoying the variation from most weights tapes. I find Biceps and Triceps to be the most challenging of the three Slow and Heavy workouts, because it's much harder for me to maintain concentration when doing such slow, repetitive work for these small muscle groups. With legs, chest and back you're also focused on good form in your whole body (bracing your back/core on the bench for back pullovers, for example), you're thinking about balance (for squats and lunges) mind was much more engaged for the legs/shoulders/back/chest segments. For tris and bis it was harder for me to focus.

The format is the same as the other workouts in Slow & Heavy: Cathe and four backgrounders do a brief dynamic warmup, followed by three or more exercises per body part, three sets of eight reps, using a 6-counts-contraction, 2-counts-extension tempo, one minute rest between sets. The exercises are standard bodybuilding: overhead French press, skullcrushers and triceps extensions; dumbbell curls, hammer curls and barbell curls. Cathe tacks on dips for triceps (I subbed side-lying triceps pushups) and two effective wrist/forearm strengtheners at the end of the biceps section. There is a good abs section before the concluding, short stretch. Everything is very slow and controlled and Cathe gives relevant form pointers throughout. The music is generic background beats and Cathe is on-tempo for the workout.

I think this tape is excellent for building strength if you lift to failure or near-failure, but it's a test of your ability to concentrate to get through it. Cathe encourages exercisers to use Slow & Heavy in short rotations of no more than three weeks, and I can see how the triceps/biceps workout in particular might get a little tedious if done for longer than that.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is extremely professional in this series, except she keeps mixing up "reps" and "sets" - which can be discouraging when you're struggling through rep 6 and she says "two more sets!" She lifts heavy and demonstrates excellent form. The form pointers are cued verbally and also demonstrated between sets, which is very helpful.