In order to better address the needs of our fitness-obsessed readers, we are introducing this semi-regular column, "I of the Tiger," to take on the vital hardcore fitness issues of our time. Today: big arms are dumb. Dig it.
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that if you place a drunken child or a cognitively impaired orangutan inside a gym, the very first thing they will do is pick up a dumbbell of mild weight and begin doing bicep curls, over and over, staring at themselves in the mirror, hypnotized. Do not be like a cognitively impaired orangutan. Stop doing curls. Curls are for suckers.
"Dude, you don't even know," you're saying right now, flexing your biceps, your big old weighty biceps that you earned by doing thousands upon thousands of curls for hundreds and hundreds of hours, while staring at yourself in the gymnasium mirror. "I have big arms. I am big. And strong. Look." And then you flex, and your bicep pops up, in an especially dramatic fashion, because you're wearing one of those t-shirts with sleeves designed to be both too tight and too short.
Here is the funny joke on you: big arms don't mean you're strong. Not a bit! Arm muscles, relative to other muscle groups in the body, are paltry. Meek. You want to be strong? Have strong legs, and strong hips, and a strong back, and a strong gluteus maximus. All the things you'd look for on a powerful draft horse, or a sturdy woman to marry and bring back to the farm. These are your big muscle groups. These are the muscles that make you strong, help you pick things up, move things, bodyslam things, hardcore things. What the hell kind of weight are you going to move with your bicep? Think about it. Your bicep's job is to pull your lower arm upwards. If you want to pull any kind of real weight, you do it with your back muscles. A car falls on your baby, and you're going to try to use your biceps to lift it up?
Now your baby is dead. Should have done some deadlifts.
Sure, if you are some bodybuilder type who does "figure competitions" and works out for four hours at a stretch, by all means, do your bicep curls. You have bigger problems to worry about. But normal people don't work out like that. Normal people have a certain number of hours per week to work out, and that number is not "dozens and dozens." It is a small number. That means that each workout should be maximized. The highest-quality work in the time available. Whenever I see some dude with big old arms, I know that dude is probably not actually strong, because he has spending all his time at the gym doing curls instead of real exercises like, that's right, squats, and more squats. Curls are the dessert of workouts. You wanna do curls? First, eat your squats. When you finish every last one, fine, do some curls.
Go ahead, push around some dude with huge arms, and watch him stumble! (Don't actually do this.) It's easy, thanks to his weak legs, and it looks impressive. Biceps are a vanity muscle. Not a hardcore muscle. Sure, curling a 35-pound weight a million times will give you a big, fat bicep muscle that you can "flex." But will it help you pick up 400 pounds? No. It will only help you curl 35 pounds a million times. In order to pick up 400 pounds, you have to pick up 400 pounds. Sure, curls might help you attract members of the opposite sex. Dumb members of the opposite sex. But they won't help you save that baby from under the car. That baby dead, big boy.
Be strong not big. Not big not strong. And keep your eye, forever... on the Tiger.
[Image by Jim Cooke/Shutterstock]