Men Over 40 Can Build Stronger Arms With This 2-Part Workout

Fitness coach, author, and model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life gets more complicated. But that shouldn’t stop you from staying on top of your game. It will help you answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can stay fit beyond 40.

One of my younger friends at the gym is the strongest guy I know for his size. He is 40, five inches shorter than me and at least 20 pounds lighter. Even with my size advantage, he always reminds me that he beats me when we do bicep curls and grip strength challenges.

As I get older, I can’t afford to give any of my younger friends more advantages, so I started to focus more on building my arm strength. One exercise that I mix into my routine is the Zottman Curl. I use it because it does double duty: I can attack the strength of my biceps and forearms in one exercise. You can also work on your grip strength, which is an indicator of overall strength and mortality as we age.

How to do the Zottman curl

To set up, you’ll need to grab a pair of dumbbells. Stand in an athletic position, squeezing your glutes, abs, and shoulder blades, while holding the dumbbells at your sides in a neutral position. Raise both dumbbells, turning your palms toward the ceiling. At the top of the curl, make sure you get a strong bicep squeeze. Here’s the key to the curl: Before lowering the dumbbells back to the starting position, turn your palms forward, making sure to keep your elbows in and moving only through your forearms. Then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. That is a repetition.

The Zottman Curl is an exercise you don’t want to rush, especially during the eccentric (lowering the dumbbells) portion of the movement. Too often when curling, you’ll see all kinds of people wasting that part of the movement, losing control, and not getting the most out of the exercise. Since grip and forearm strength are critical for older men (turning doorknobs, opening jars, hanging exercises, etc.), get the most out of the exercise by lowering the dumbbells in a slow, controlled motion. Keep your upper arms in line with your torso so your elbows don’t protrude forward, which can also decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. Also, if your body sways, you’re using too much weight. Simply grab a lighter dumbbell to maintain control.

You don’t need a lot of weight for the Zottman curl because of your focus on eccentric motion. Start by dropping 10 to 15 pounds off the weight you would normally do for a standard curl. As you lift the weight, remember to supinate (turn your hands palms up) and squeeze as hard as possible to hit the biceps. When you lower the weight, use a count of five and remember to pronate (turn your palms down) as much as possible to hit your forearms. Start with 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

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