Many of you already know what 21’s are. For those of you that don’t, it’s a popular move for the barbell curl that calls for the lifter to perform seven reps of only the first half of the curling motion (from the bottom to the middle of the exercise), seven more reps of only the second half of the curling motion (from the top of the curl to the middle of the lift), and finally seven reps in the full range of motion. It’s been a popular exercise for a long time to help athletes break plateaus or shock the biceps so you can keep yielding positive results and keep those sleeves stretched and challenged not to rip. I found the 21’s to be a pretty effective movement for another exercise but not for biceps. For this, you’ll add the 21’s to your shoulder day and perform them with lateral raises. Laterals are a great movement to target the side head of the deltoid area which can help you appear wider in the upper body in comparison to your waist.
Make sure you use a light pair of dumbbells for this because you will be performing 21 reps and it will be a challenge. There’s also a twist on it that you will see a little later. Stand straight and tall with a dumbbell in each hand down to your sides at arms’ length. Lift the dumbbells out to your sides but stop the movement when your arms are at a 45 degree angle to your body. Try to keep your elbows as straight as you can but if they bend a little it’s ok. Try to stop the weight at the midpoint position before lowering them back down to the starting position. Once you hold them at the midpoint, lower them back to the starting position under control. Don’t just let them drop because you’re missing out on 50% of the movement. Repeat this for seven reps.
Now comes the twist. Normally with 21’s you perform seven reps of the top portion of the movement. Here you will shift into doing seven reps with full range of motion. Start from the bottom and lift the weights out to your sides as high as you can without swinging. Keep your arms as straight as possible. Once your arms are even with your shoulders, hold the weights there for a second before slowly lowering them back to the starting position. Repeat for seven total reps.
Finally, it’s time for the grand finale. You’re going to perform seven more reps but this time you will lower the weight to the midpoint of the movement and lift them back up to the top. This is going to be challenging because you’ve already done 14 reps and the delts are pre-exhausted. To lower the weights and stop them halfway to lift them again under control is going to take a lot of effort. Once you’ve lifted the dumbbells to the top of the movement, lower them under control until your arms are back to a 45 degree angle to the body. Stop the weight here and lift them back up to the top while only using force from your shoulders. You may be tempted to use momentum and swing but don’t do it. You have to be able to control the weight for this to be effective. Repeat for seven reps and you’ve finished with your set. Add three sets of these to the end of your shoulder workout and the results should speak for themselves.
About the Author
Roger “ROCK” Lockridge is a writer whose work has been seen all over the world. He is most known as a writer for Iron Man Magazine and Bodybuilding.com. In 2009, he was named Bodybuilding.com Male Writer of the Year which along with the Female award is the highest award for writers in the bodybuilding/fitness world.
Roger is also known for his work against child abuse and domestic violence and he was featured as a part of the domestic violence documentary “30” as the only child survivor and the only male survivor in the film.