Over the course of my many years of training, I developed a set of principles around a concept that I call “Arc Movement.” I have mentioned the concept of Arc Movement in countless interviews, video clips, articles and blog posts. In all honesty, my rise in the world of natural bodybuilding never would have been as meteoric as it became if it hadn’t been for my use of Arc Movement.
Thanks to the use of Arc Movement principles, I was able to win 21 natural bodybuilding world championships. Not only was I able to craft and develop better-looking muscles than any of my competitors, but I was also able to stay injury free over the course of countless hours of training in the gym.
If you’re wondering what Arc Movement is, or why I feel it is the most valuable principle you can apply to guide your training activities, here are three reasons why Arc Movement can make a marked improvement in your workouts that is just as meaningful and consequential as the benefits it has made in mine.
All of the muscles in the body are made in an arc formation. This includes the chest, the deltoids, the biceps, the glutes, the hamstrings, quadriceps, and every other muscle group. To me, it only made logical sense for me to train my body in a manner that took advantage of the way it is designed.
Not only are the muscles in our bodies made in arc formations, but they are designed to be trained in arc-shaped patterns. If you consider the natural path of a bicep curl, the weight travels through an obvious arc-shaped path as it moves from its starting point to its ending point. However, even when you take a less obvious example like a chest press or a lat pulldown, you can see how your hands and arms travel in a natural arc as they move from your sides to above your head, or from your sides to above your chest.
This is the natural path and movement of your hands and arms because your body was designed to move them in this way. Therefore, training methods that take the natural shape and motion of your body into account are going to be the safest and most effective movements that you can do.
If you look at a bird, you’ll notice that the largest, leanest and most developed muscle group is the chest, and the flying motion is performed in an arc. Because your chest is formed in a similar arc, your arms need to travel in a full arc to develop the chest across the entire configuration that it’s made in. That gives you a peak contraction at the height of the movement.
When you perform any exercise, you should pinpoint your focus on the muscle being trained and work to develop a peak contraction in that muscle. Really, that’s the entire point of performing resistance training; you should be attempting to develop a peak contraction in your muscles. However, certain exercises only give you a maximum contraction without giving you the ability to develop a peak contraction.
The barbell bench press is a perfect example of this. When I’m doing the bench press, I can press the bar straight up to give myself a maximum contraction in my chest, but the exercise won’t allow me to develop a peak contraction in the pectorals because I’m restricted by my hand positioning on the bar. Because of this restriction, my hand can’t complete their movement along their natural path, and I can’t achieve a peak contraction in my chest.
This is one of the reasons why dumbbell bench press is a far more effective exercise; the hands and arms move along a natural path, which is an arc. As a result, the muscles are strengthened and built across their full range of motion.
When we’re training with weights or other forms of resistance, our usual focus is on simply trying to build our muscles to be as big and strong as we can possibly make them. While we’re lifting those weights, we seldom consider how our workout is affecting the joints that are attached to the muscles that are being trained.
If you don’t understand that your muscle groups are made in an arc, or that the natural path of your training movements should be performed in an arc-shaped pattern, you are going to run a high risk of simultaneously destroying your joints while you’re attempting to build your muscles.
If you think about a doll, when you raise the arm past a certain point, the ball comes out of the socket. Your shoulder joint is actually no different. Unlike other joints like the elbow, which is a hinge joint, the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. That means if I’m working my chest, shoulders or traps, I’m working with a ball-and-socket joint. Because of that fact, I have to be very conscious of the safety of the movements I’m doing, and also which movements are unsafe for me.
Overhead presses and dips - two very popular exercises - are both movements that essentially take your shoulders out of their joints and place an immense amount of stress on them. For this reason it is almost impossible to do these exercises without damaging your joints. This is also one of the reasons why I never do them at all. Besides, Arc Movement is always better at building the muscles anyway.
Always remember, Arc Movement’s principles keep you safely within the structure of the muscle you’re training. This allows you to build the strongest possible muscles in the safest way imaginable. For more great fitness tips, feel free to check out the rest of the blog at RonWilliamsFitness.com, and also the Ron Williams channel on YouTube!