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Traditionally workouts tend to incorporate smaller muscle groups with larger ones, such as working chest and shoulders or back and bi's together. But personal trainer and former bodybuilder Matt Siaperas recommends occasionally switching things up to work the shoulders, bi's and tri's together. This gives the smaller muscle groups a chance to get a workout without becoming pre-exhausted from supporting other groups during an exercise, and it keeps your workout fresh at the same time.
To target your shoulders during a shoulder, bi and tri workout, four beneficial exercises are the dumbbell military press, dumbbell shrugs, dumbbell side raises and dumbbell front raises. Rather than using dumbbells, you can also get an effective workout if you use a machine, such as a Smith Machine or Military Press machine for the military press. You may prefer the machines over free weights, or maybe you feel you get a better workout with dumbbells. It all depends on personal preference.
Keeping to four exercises per muscle group, Siaperas recommends straight bar curls done with a barbell to work your biceps. Start by holding the bar with your palms facing up for the first round of sets, then switch them to face down and perform reverse curls. With the dumbbells, execute hammer curls and then preacher curls. As with the shoulder exercises, you may have access to a preacher curl machine and can use it if you prefer the machine over dumbbells.
Sometimes triceps don't get as much attention as other muscle groups, but they are important to the appearance and function of a well-developed arm. There are actually many more exercises for triceps than most people might be aware of, but the four that Siaperas suggests to round out your shoulder, bi and tri workout are dips, using your own body weight as resistance; overhead dumbbell extensions, either holding a dumbbell in each hand or holding onto one dumbbell with both hands; triceps kickbacks, also performed with dumbbells; and triceps pushdowns, done with a bar on a cable machine. Use the rope accessory instead of the bar when using the cable machine if you prefer.
To Circuit or Not to Circuit
Circuit training has been gaining in popularity because it increases your heart rate and allows you to get your workout done in a quicker amount of time than in the traditional way of doing three sets of each exercise and resting in between sets. Whether to perform your shoulder, biceps and triceps workout as a circuit or in the traditional manner depends on your goals. If time is a concern and you want to keep your heart rate up during your resistance workout, then circuit is the way to go. Do all of the shoulder exercises as a circuit -- not resting between sets -- before moving to the biceps and then triceps. Perform 10 to 12 reps of each exercise. If you want more intensity and you have some time to devote to your workout, then the traditional routine will suit you better. Do three sets of each exercise, starting out with 15 reps, then decreasing to 12 and then 10 reps for your second and third sets. Rest for approximately 20 to 30 seconds in between sets. As with the circuit, complete all the shoulder exercises together, then all bi's and finally all tri exercises.