One PlateMate, an Offset Grip, and Two Arm Exercises

September 03, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro

Holding a dumbbell off-center, often referred to as an “offset” grip, will tip the balance of the weight toward one side and influence muscle involvement on various movements. For instance, using an offset grip on arm curls where the hand is positioned toward the outer part of the dumbbell increases the involvement of the short head of the biceps.

You can take it a step further by attaching a PlateMate to the opposite side. This will make the medial (inner) end of the dumbbell even heavier, and thus the medial (short) head of the biceps has to work harder.

Seated Twisting Offset-Grip Dumbbell Curl

There’s another arm curl version with this method of loading that adds a “twist” to the movement, literally! You use the same offset grip as above, but your hands start in a neutral (hammer-style) position with the palms facing each other at the bottom of the movement. Curl the weight up and as the dumbbells clear your thighs, twist (i.e., supinate) your wrists so that your palms are facing your shoulders at the top of the movement. Then, reverse the motion back to the beginning position.

This elbow flexion exercise will increase the involvement of the muscles that supinate your forearm, which include the biceps brachii, brachioradialis, and the supinator.

Lying Twisting Offset-Grip Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Here’s a triceps movement that increases the involvement of forearm pronator muscles (i.e., pronator teres and pronator quadratus) along with a small muscle behind the elbow known as the anconeus.

Think of a typical lying dumbbell triceps extension, but instead of keeping your hands in a neutral position throughout the entire movement, you twist (pronate) the forearms as you raise the weight, and then reverse the motion back down to the start position.

Make sure to offset the grip as shown in the photos below, and attach a PlateMate to the opposite side to heighten the effect.

Reciprocal Pairing

These two exercises pair well together. They’re two antagonistic movements that don’t require much equipment or much space. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a bench – the PlateMates make a nice addition but are not mandatory.

You can do these exercises in a superset fashion with moderate rest intervals (see page 164 of The Elite Trainer) or with little to no rest in between (see page 43 of Mass Explosion).

Make sure to add them to your repertoire.