My brother (the CrossFitter) was visiting one day and we decided to check out the new LA Fitness near my house. As we’re pulling into the parking lot my brother asks “Why is the building covered in pictures of people doing curls?” I jokingly replied, “The bicep is the most important muscle!” While we were working out, I noticed a lot of out of shape people spending their entire time at the gym working out their arms or doing crunches. If getting lean is one of your fitness goals, train using the most “bang for your buck” multi-joint/compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups, and Olympic lifts. Avoid isolation, single-joint lifts such as bicep curls. Spending time on small muscles like biceps or triceps can be counterproductive; the more muscle you have the more fat you burn so focus on the bigger muscles like the legs, chest and back. Compound lifts can work almost the entire body which build more muscle and burns more fat. Doing ab exercises like crunches when your abs are covered by fat is just a waste of time. I definitely believe it’s important to have a strong core even if you have a gut, but by doing compound lifts, you will be working your core.
Yes, nice biceps look good but a lean core not only looks good, it’s also important to your health. If you loose the fat around your abdomen, it will reduce the risk of various diseases and early death.
Spending 15 minutes doing squats and deadlifts will get you leaner faster than spending an hour doing arms and crunches. Tighten your abs and butt on every compound lift to ensure you engage those muscles. I promise you, doing these lifts will work your arms and abs.
Once you’ve leaned out to where you want to be, then focus on those glamor muscles like the arms. By then, you should already have great abs and arms, so there won’t be much more to go.