Since I completed the Train Like Arnold Challenge earlier this year, I’ve found new ways to challenge myself and grow. One way is through powerlifting. I’m preparing for my first meeting in a few weeks. As well as basic squats, bench and deadlifts, I also train in the strict curl which also has its own show, made famous by weightlifting legend CT Fletcher.
For those who don’t know, tight curls require the lifter to rest his head, back, and butt against the wall. The lifter then picks up a barbell or EZ-curl bar and waits for the judge to give the start command. The lifter then rolls over the bar for one rep while the head, back, and buttocks all maintain contact with the wall. If any of the three dots is off the wall, the lift is not good. After the weight is bent, the judge then asks the lifter to lower the weight, then returns it to the rack or floor. Three judges then determine whether the attempt was successful or not. As in a traditional lift, the weights must point in the correct direction, and cannot descend unless the judge gives the order to descend.
The best way to train tight curls is to do them often. While doing reps one day, I accidentally came across a method that helped me get stronger in tight curls. My final set on curls is traditionally a five-rep maximum set. One day, I went to do this set, but I only had three reps in me. Frustrating as it was, I wanted to make the most of this set, so I stepped away from the studs I used for my walls and did a few more sets of basic curls. I failed again before I wanted to, further frustrating me, and I did a few cheat curls using momentum to raise the weight up, then slowly lower it down. I then continued my session.
After the practice was over, I thought a little more about the set and realized I might have found a way to solve the problem. I was stuck at 115 pounds for my single max for a few weeks. I decided to try doing sets like I did that day for the next few tight curl sessions. I choose a weight that feels like five reps max, and I do the following.
- Three tight curling reps.
- Three reps of normal curls.
- Three reps of the cheat curl.
I added 12.5 pounds to my curls in a month. I went from 115 pounds to 127.5. At 255 pounds, I curl strictly at half my body weight. You can see the lift itself in the video below.
Ordering More and Better Growth, says CT Fletcher
That’s not a huge accomplishment for many elite lifters, but I’ll take it with gratitude. I was ready to share my curling tricks with the world, but I realized that it would be wise to get validation from someone who knows a thing or two about strict curls, CT Fletcher.
I have been blessed to work with CT on different articles in the past, so I contacted him to inquire about this training method, and I was quite proud of myself when he said he loved what I did.
“I think it’s a very good approach. I love how you work tight curls and do more because that’s the only way you’ll get better. he says. “But there are a few more things you can do besides that.”
At this point, I’m all ears. The man who commanded his muscles to grow would give advice on how he became one of the greatest curlers of all time. The first tip he offers is to add more of the other exercise that made him famous, the preacher curl.
“The key to tight curls is that you have to increase the strength of your biceps, and curler curls are tight arms. You don’t use anything else. Fletcher likes to use a straight bar for preacher curls, but of course he doesn’t mind dumbbells either. He curled a 100 pound weight for reps in one of his most famous videos.
“Preacher curls will help you get stronger and bigger biceps.”
Everything else is not a physical hack. It’s a mental problem.
“I don’t think anyone is talking about this or even considering it. One of the best things I’ve ever done was remove the wall in my head,” he explains. In other words, he would imagine himself just curled up while standing, even if he was leaning against a wall. He does this so much that leaning against the wall is second nature to him. He never thought about maintaining three points of contact because it was automatic.
“It becomes second nature, and you will be stronger for it.”
CT Fletcher Workout For Bigger Stronger Biceps
If you want to try this sample workout with tips to get bigger and stronger biceps, try the routine below.
- Tight Curly – 3 sets of 5 reps (Switch from light to heavy on this.)
- Tight Curl/Normal Curl/Cheat Curl – 1 set of 9 reps total.
- Straight Bar Pastor Curl – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Dumbbell Preacher Curl – 3 sets of 8 reps each arm
CT is also credited with using old-school weights, better known as “pig irons” for helping him lay the foundations for his distinguished career. He has worked to create his own pig iron line so he can pass that foundation on to the next generation, like his son Samson, who has carried his legacy on the platform.
“He’ll see you again in the next few months I think.”
Fletcher also has a line of supplements in development that he hopes to share more of in the near future. For more information, visit www.ctfletcher.com.
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