Introducing The Great Zottman

Philadelphia strongman in the 1880s/1890s.

george_zottman.jpgGeorge Zottman (pictured at left) was a Philadelphia strongman in the 1880s/1890s. In this photo Zottman, aged 57, still had massive forearms by any standard - measuring 16 1/2 " here. Relaxed they were still a suitably impressive 14 1/2 ".

It's fitting then that the movement he is most famous for - the one that to this day carries his name - is the Zottman Curl.

This is a dumbell bicep curl with a twist - quite literally. The weight is curled using the standard supinated (palm facing up) grip, with the wrist angled back slightly so as to make the bicep do all the heavy lifting. At the top of the curl the wrist is straightened and the hand rotated 180 degrees, before being slowly lowered to the start position. The hand is then rotated 180 degrees and the cycle begins again.

This movement succeeds in working both the biceps and forearms, and is a great way to warm up the entire arm.

An uncommon, but highly effective, movement.

Long before I had a chance to try out the Zottman Curls, today's session began with some wide-grip incline benching. This combination doesn't exactly rank high on the list of exercises I look forward to, as it focuses the attention on the upper and outer pecs whilst reducing involvement from the triceps.

Worked my way up to a double at 40kg, and that set was enough to tell me that today was not a day for breaking records. Will just have to wait a bit for that.

Followed the benching with a bit of back work in the form of wide-grip pull-ups, T-bar rows and shrugs. That combination definitely got the blood pumping.

Finally it was time for the Zottman curls, and the light weight I decided to start with (at least until happy with the technique) was still enough to get the arms nice and warm. This seems like the perfect movement for days when forearm/grip work immediately follows a bench session.

Dynamic stretching
Bench press - incline, wide grip 2x5@20kg,
Pull-up - wide grip 4x5@bw+10kg
T-bar row 4x10@70kg
Shrug 4x10@80kg
Zottman curl 4x10@5kg (each side)

Total time : 87 mins

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Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 35) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

Find out what he's up to via Twitter, Google+, Facebook; and of course his online home. Enjoy.

Like this? Check out :

The First Year.It's been just over a year since I first began to share my bedroom with weight plates. Over that time the act of lifting weights has gradually moved towards the status of 'healthy obsession' (although there are some who would dispute the 'healthy' part of that phrase), and shows no signs of becoming anything less.
Back to 4 Days per Week.

I've decided to switch back.

The Return.Apart from managing to shed 3kg whilst hiking around The Netherlands for a week, my recent trip suggested working on two main areas : calf muscles and upper back. There's nothing quite like a solid week of backpacking to point out weaknesses.
New Routine.

Down to 3 sessions per week.


The comforts of lifting at home.

New Combo.As triceps strength seems to be a major factor in overall bench press performance, I gave them another thorough going over today. This combined with the fact that it's been a while since I found myself doing floor presses suggested the combination of close-grip floor pressing as today's max exercise. This actually felt a lot more natural than normal close-grip presses, partly due to the restriction of the floor. I can see myself working this one in to the routine as an occasional workhorse rather than simply a max lift. As per last week, the tricep work continued in the form of seated triceps extensions and dips. The seated extensions are always interesting - the setup of the bench racks (which are unfortunately welded on) means that anything less than a perfect movement ends up hitting the racks. The upside of this is a slow, strict movement. A few sets of chins certainly got the sweat hitting the floor, largely due to the music playing at the time - 'Jump Around' by House of Pain, which seems to encourage any movement to be done to the pace of the song. Having successfully woken up the biceps whilst doing the chin-ups, I killed them off with a few sets of barbell curls. Seems as though the left arm has a bit of catching up to do there, so it looks like a bit of dumbell work is on the cards.

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