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Build Biceps with Jeff Mulheim

Sometimes, when Arizona bodybuilder Jeff Mulheim does a set of barbell, he closes his eyes and blocks out everything. I mean nothing distracts him! They could probably tear down the gym and build a miniature golf course in its place while he was concentrating on a set. He'd open his eyes and find some geek who mistook him for part of the 14th hole putting a golf ball through his legs.

by T.C Luoma-- 1992

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Currently Jeff is concentrating not only on his sets, but also on turning professional. The 25-year-old began bodybuilding in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, although he really didn't get all that serious about the sport until he joined the air force. However, Jeff remembered how being a bodybuilder in the armed forces wasn't that easy. "They kind of gave me a hard time in the service. I mean, a mechanic who's as big as a transport plane isn't their idea of the traditional look. I even had to get waivers to meet their weight standards. I knew that if I was going to continue bodybuilding, the air force wasn't the type of lifestyle I wanted to lead."

Even though the air force impeded his bodybuilding progress. Jeff still got good enough - got big enough - to compete. His first show was the 1988 NPC Gold's Classic in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina, near where he was stationed. He took the middleweight and overall titles in the junior division. Months later ht took second i the NPC Mr. North Carolina contest.

Because the air force hampered his development, Jeff got out in 1989 and began training in earnest with professional bodybuilder David Dearth. His first contest out of the service was the 1990 NPC Mr. Ohio, where he won the middleweight title. After that he competed as light heavyweight with relative success until the 1991 NPC Nationals. "I didn't make the cut," explained Jeff. " I guess I just wasn't mature enough."

Maybe Jeff wasn't "mature enough", but most of the journalists and photographers thought he should have, at the very least, made the cut for the top fifteen. He plans on trying again at the 1992 Nationals. In between bodybuilding shows Jeff worked as a bartender in Canton to make ends meet. He made the move to Arizona late last year at the urging of a few promoters, and photographers, who thought he would get more more publicity if he moved near Los Angeles. "Arizona isn't exactly L.A., but my brother lives there, and I moved i with him to cut down the costs. At least I'm closer to L.A. now."

Jeff is again working as a doorman / bartender in Phoenix, and he's also working on getting his certificate as a massage therapist. However, he doesn't plan on generating any extra business by bouncing unruly bar patrons out the door and then offering his services as a massage therapist. His certificate will doubtless come in handy though because after a biceps workout he often needs a massage himself.

"My biceps training is very instinctive," explained Jeff. "I go into the gym knowing what bodypart I'm going to train, but I don't really know what exercises I'm going to do or how many sets, I'm going to do. I pretty much go by feel. One day I might go very heavy for low reps, and the nest time I hit that bodypart, I might do a hundred reps with very light weight just to shock the system."

Rep ranges and specific exercises are just incidental to Jeff. What's more important is learning to focus on the muscle that's being trained. "You can't just concentrate on moving the weight. Feeling the muscle is much more important. I'll often find myself closing my eyes, blocking out all my surroundings, the music playing, whatever, and just focusing in on the muscle."

During the off-season Jeff prefers to stick with what he considers a low-rep, mass-building workout. He likes doing either three exercises of four sets each, or four exercises of three sets each. A typical workout begins with straight-bar curls, done either standing or on a preacher-curl bench. Even though Jeff goes heavy, he likes to his reps with little or no swinging. "I've never gotten much out of just throwing the weight around. Weight means nothing to me. I'd rather get a good feel than know I'm lifting more than anybody else in the gym."

Aside from strict form, getting a full range of motion is a mainstay in his workouts. Another one of this methods involves using a variety of grips on the straight bar. "I especially like to go wide. A lot of poeple don't curl wide, but it really hits the beceps peaks."

After barbell curls Jeff likes to do an alternating dumbbell movement, usually either standing alternate dumbbell curls or alternate dumbbell preacher curls, and sometimes both. Concentration is again the most important facet of the movement, but he employs other methods to keep the muscle responsive. "supination is important. Absolutely. Also, about every third workout, I'll perform the one-arm curls hammer-style where I keep the palms facing in constantly. I like doing curls that way because that's the only movement that works the tie-in between the forearm and the biceps."

Regardless of whether he's doing a three exercise workout or a four-exercise workout, Jeff likes to finish off with some sort of concentration curl, although the term itself is redundant, considering Jeff's inclination to concentrate on all his movements. Regardless of which form of the exercise he uses, he prefers to move the arm through its range of motion without any support from either his thigh or this other arm. "doing it that way lets me focus on the muscle."

Every workout, regardless of how carefully planned, it is, will eventually lead to a point of stagnation where the muscle stops growing . Jeff is quite aware of the fact; therefore, he constantly throws a monkey wrench into the works so that his muscles keep growing . Sometimes he'll do his workout backwards -- i.e. do a concentration curl first and end up with barbell curls.

"The way to shock the system into growth is to try different things. Try going in and putting as much weight on the bar as you can. I don't believe in doing one-rep maxes, but try doing very low-rep sets. Then the next workout try doing extremely high reps. Try supersetting. In general, just get super intense. that usually helps me over a plateau."

Jeff's off-season biceps workout doesn't usually involve any machines or cables, but he will resort to them frequently to isolate the muscle when training for a contest. During contest training Jeff also resorts to doing high-rep sets, although the majority bo bodybuilders seem to avoid them during contest preparation in order to "avoid losing muscle mass" Jeff believes otherwise.

"I pretty much go by the mirror. If I felt I was losing muscle mass, I would adjust my workout, but that's never really happened to me. When I drop the amount of weight I use, I still get a great workout, but the extra reps help burn fat, and in addition, shape the muscle."

Even though his style of training changes for a contest,his diet stays largely the same, although he will substitute a lot of carbohydrate-derived calories for protein calories. "I eat pretty good all year long, but often my diet isn't by choice. I'm kind of limited financially, so I'll choose to buy my protein, or my "good" foods, first. That just doesn't' leave me a lot of money for any junk food.

Aside from doing higher reps and adjusting the protein intake of his diet, the main way Jeff gets ready for a contest is by doing aerobics. He'll increase the time spent on the stairs or the stationary bike form a half-hour during the off-season to almost two hours during contest preparation.

Although supplementation plays a big part in most bodybuilders' regimens, Jeff scarcely uses any except for aminos and the occasional protein drink. He believes that if you keep your diet balanced with lots of protein, plenty of complex carbs and fruit and vegetables, you don't have to take a lot supplements. "Besides, supplements are expensive," said Jeff. laughing.

If only concentration could buy food and supplements, Jeff Mulheim would be neck deep in health food, junk food, dog food, cat food, every kind of food, and he'd have enough supplements to help everyone in the whole state of Arizona develop muscle.

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