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Ab and Bicep Training for Powerlifting


Hey guys

Just looking to be a bit more aesthetic, but also help with leverages with my bench (IE bigger arms) and overall strength. Is there some sort of circuit or template I could borrow and use at the end of my usual powerlifting stuff that you guys would recommend?

I got recommended to do 15-20 reps for 2-3 sets for biceps. Not sure what exercises to do for them though, assuming unilateral movements such as hammer curls or something to make up for the mixed grip deadlift to make sure there are no imbalances.

For abs, I’m not sure at all. I’m thinking ab roller, weight crunches, leg raises? But no idea about rep schemes or anything. I just want a stronger core, while still looking decent. I’m not looking to be a bodybuilder or step on a stage for it or anything. Just want to bring them out a little, as I don’t really do much for them apart from the compound lifts.

Was thinking that a giant set or some sort of circuit training to bring out a bit of a sweat would be a good idea for GPP and just general fitness and such.

So yeah, what do you guys recommend?


Hammer curls, ab wheel. Add in GHR sit-ups or hanging leg raises.


Dave Tate actually recommends barbell curls since most stuff that powerlifters do involves a pronated grip. If you want to “bring out” your abs you need to lose weight more than anything, some experts in PL and bodybuilding (such as Mike Israetel and Eric Helms) actually don’t recommend any ab work at all for physique purposes. It’s also questionable whether it improves powerlifting performance at all, you mostly just need to learn to brace.


Shouldn’t I worry about tearing my bicep or something if I do too much compound stuff like that? I already have this lower back thing where one side is way too big for the other, even causes some pain sometimes. Far less than before, though, probably due to me learning and improving my form.

I suppose that is true about the ab training bit. But again, it’s not just the powerlifting performance I’m interested in. It’s just having some decent abs for my own personal benefits, call it curiosity if you want. Just never been that lean to see them if I’m honest. I’m currently about 20+%, and on a good day with good lighting, I already get some separation down the middle. It’s not great, not by any means, but I suppose it’s something.


I don’t see the connection between compound lifts and bicep tears. Reactive Training Systems (Mike Tuchscherer and friends) uses pretty much all compound movements and I don’t hear about an epidemic of biceps tears amongst them. If you are worried about tearing a bicep then use hook grip. I’m surprised that more people don’t, you won’t drop the bar if you do it properly and it will also prevent bilateral imbalances like what you have in your lower back.

If you don’t really care about powerlifting performance and are set on having defined abs then you can get more advice in other forums. However, Mike Israetel, who coaches bodybuilders and himself competes in bodybuilding, does zero ab work and has better abs than you. Eric Helms, who has also competed in bodybuilding and coaches bodybuilders as well as some elite powerlifters like Bryce Lewis, says that he has never seen a natural bodybuilder improve their abs through direct ab work. I’m not trying to talk you out of training your abs, I’m just saying that the benefits are overrated if you are already doing heavy compound lifts which require you to brace your abs.


Direct bicep work - Hammer curls are my preference, but just do any type of curl.

Direct ab work - I don’t do a ton of it. Instead I like paused high bar or front squats. Weighted crunches, ab wheel all good.


I’ve tried hook grip, but I feel that my hands are too small for it. My fingers barely grasp the nail of my thumb.

And I suppose youre right about the bicep tear bit. I’ll admit you sound correct with it. It was just a concern with it. I want to be abe to push and train hard as possible, with minimal injury, and I dont really want to blow out my bicep ahha ( or anything for that matter aha)


Tons of good stuff for performance abs here…


Biceps - Use an underhand grip for pullups/pulldowns - Done
Abs - HEAVY squat walkouts and supports. Hold and brace for 30 seconds once a week.

Regarding torn biceps, you need to learn to RELAX your arms when deadlifting. The only part of your arm which should be tight is your hand.

Oh, and learn to control bodyweight so you don’t need to dehydrate to make weight. Lose excess weightbefore the cycle and train up to the class weight.


I’m thinking about adding weight pull ups into my routine. I need to improve my pull ups significantly anyway. I don’t currently do them, but i need to. Figured it’d be a good way of adding mass to my arms and lats


All weightlifters use hook grip, including 100lb girls. Small hands is not an advantage, but not an excuse either. You don’t have to switch to hook grip, but if you want to then start out pulling all your warmup sets with hook grip. Eventually it won’t hurt so much and grip won’t be an issue on heavy sets. In my case, it only hurts after I put the weight down, not during the set. I use straps if I do high rep sets still because it beats up my hands. There are lots of videos on youtube that demonstrate how to use hook grip, there are small details that vary from person to person so it will take some experimenting to find exactly what works for you but I think it’s well worth it.


It sounds like you’ve been in this for a while, so you have probably seen a few injuries. Aside from bending your arm like a fool, what really causes bicep tears? I have seen videos of people tearing biceps and they didn’t do anything stupid like that, it almost seems like it’s just bad luck. Perry Ellis tore his bicep a few months ago, Mark Robb tore his too (and switched to hook grip). Josh Bryant says that you should absolutely not do any bicep work before deadlifting because that will greatly increase the chances of tearing a bicep.


I like ab wheel and hanging leg raises for abs. They already have made a difference in how my lifts feel. Overhead KB carries work the obliques pretty nice. I think it’s a good idea to add an erector movement if you trains, like BB hypers, Good mornings, etc.


So, I was talking to my training partner, and we came up with a conditioning circuit for abs.

so something like
5 ab roll outs
5 barbell landmine (oblique twisting things)

Then do as many rounds as possible in like 10 minutes. Then do that circuit after every training session.
Any thoughts on this?


Try it and find out. I’ve tried and prefer 50 total reps of ab wheel and try this: hen you can hit 25 on the knees add 25 lbs. When you can hit 25 with 25 lbs add 45 lbs. When you can hit 25 with 45 lbs start trying bodyweight from your toes for a couple of sets of what you can do, then complete the 50 from your knees.


Once a week is all thats necessary especially if pushing it on squats and deads as well.

Abs are a small muscle group -better things you could be doing wih you time like farmers walks or rower in terms of GPP/conditioning and actually bringing out the look of your abs


Well I’m debating doing the cube method in a few months, once my bench catches up a little bit. (I bench press 90kg, but i want to do 100kg or more). And in that program, correct me if im wrong, but theres abs after every session and also a strongman implement. Such as farmers walks or stone loads or something similar. So would that be a good plan?


Weighted chin ups(palms facing each other) or just tons of bdw chin ups.
Heavy ass farmers’ walk.
Heavy ass rows.
I really don’t like any kinds of bicep curls so that’s what I do to get my biceps bigger.


I do not recall that at all from the Cube book I have, unless Brandon Lilly released an updated version.


I haven’t read it, so I can’t say what is or what isn’t in the program. Just googling it and doing as much free research as I can before I buy the book (I know its cheap, but I am a student after all. Got to be smart about the money stuff.)

But I came across the blackironbeast calculator.

From what I can see, it makes sense, the schedule for the main 3 lifts (the heavy, explosive and rep days) seem legit. But again, can’t guarantee anything about it’s legitimacy.