If you're lucky, you may have seen one in the gym. Or seen pictures of some muscle-bound bodybuilder wearing one and thought "Oh boy, what new gimmick is this?" But arm blasters have been around for many years, and despite the goofy look, they're no gimmick.
What Is An Arm Blaster?
An arm blaster is a lightweight piece of exercise equipment that's usually worn while performing bicep curls. It's worn in front of the body with an adjustable strap that rests on the back of the neck/shoulder area. An arm blaster forces the elbows in front of the lifter's torso while they curl, as well as help keep the elbows stationary throughout the movement.
Does The Arm Blaster Really Work?
Arm blasters were a popular exercise among the bodybuilding community back in the 1970s, but have dropped in popularity since. Because of this decrease in popularity, they're seen as old school. But the principles of the arm blaster are still very popular today.
Modern bodybuilders still use the "elbows in front" technique while they curl in the form of preacher curls and spider curls. Preacher curls involve performing curls while your elbows rest on what is called a "preacher bench", while spider curls use an incline bench that the person rests their chest on while their arms hang in front and curl the weight.
How Does The Arm Blaster Compare?
Despite the arm blaster being seen as "old school", it's actually a better alternative in many ways to the preacher and spider curl exercises.
The first major advantage is that the arm blaster is much cheaper than a preacher bench or an incline bench. Not only is it cheaper, but it takes up much less space. An arm blaster is so light and slim, it can be easily stored away when not in use. If you're looking to get a workout at home, an arm blaster is definitely the most afforable and practical way to go.
Another advantage the arm blaster has over preacher curl or spider curl equipment is in its versatility. With an arm blaster, you can curl using an e-z curl bar (chamber bar), a straight bar, or dumbbells. The same can be done with preacher curls, but it is very awkward to perform barbell spider curls without the help of a partner. And when used correctly, the arm blaster is much more comfortable and less awkward than preacher curls or spider curls (a guide to the correct way to use the arm blaster is further down the page).
Plus an arm blaster is lightweight, which makes it portable. It's a piece of equipment that you can pack in your duffle bag and take to the gym with you so that you won't have to wait to use the preacher bench if someone else is using it. The only downside is that you're likely to get a lot of people asking if they can use your "old school" equipment. Which may be a good thing if you're looking to make friends.
Why Aren't Arm Blasters Popular Anymore?
Truth be told, I first got an arm blaster years ago as a gift, but I couldn't find a comfortable way to use it. After trying it out a few times, I decided then it was a gimmick and threw it in the corner to be forgotten. The trouble is that if you don't know what you're doing, it's uncomfortable to use and you won't see the point of using it. Recently in these past few months I've picked it back up and with a few adjustments have experienced the best arm workouts in my life.
What's The Correct Way To Use An Arm Blaster?
The secret to using an arm blaster for bicep curls is to adjust the strap to the correct height.
The elbow pads should be slightly above your elbows when your arms are down. As you curl, your elbows dig into the pads and if the pads are too far down, your elbows will rest on the pads too high which will cause the arm blaster to tilt into your stomach. It'll feel flimsy because it's not supporting your elbows, and your stomach will hurt because the top edge is being forced into you (this was my initial problem).
Having the arm blaster set too high is just as bad. If your arm blaster is set too high, your chest and triceps start getting in the way, which increases the angle and puts stress on your elbows and sternum. You'll notice immediately if it's too high. It's very uncomfortable.
Once you find the sweet spot, you next need to focus on the weight. The arm blaster is not a piece of equipment that should ever be used for "cheat curls". Since the arm baster forces your elbows forward, most of the stress is placed on the inner head (short head) of your biceps. This is a small muscle which doesn't need a lot of weight to be worked. Too much weight will also force your elbows into the arm blaster which pushes into your stomach. This is very uncomfortable for people who like to breathe. Drop your ego along with the weight and you'll be rewarded an amazing arm workout. Be sure to engage (flex) your abs to limit the pressure the arm blaster places on your stomach.
Arm Blaster: Not Just For Biceps
Arm blasters work the biceps so well, that the advantage they provide to the triceps is often overlooked. By wearing an arm blaster while performing pushdowns, the elbows remain forward during contraction which forces all of the stress onto the triceps before the rear delts become activated. Your elbows are still free to travel forward to get a stretch as the bar goes up.
Where to get it:
Arm blasters are relatively cheap when compared to the alternatives (preacher bench or incline bench for spider curls). Plus there's not much to it. As long as the strap doesn't get cut, you'll only need to buy one to last the rest of your life. You could even pass it down to your kids and grandkids to get them some gains.
RAD Arm Blaster Body Building Bomber Bicep Curl
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Champion Barbell E-Z Curl Bar
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