George 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.
Bench press – incline, wide grip 2×5@20kg,
Pull-up – wide grip 4×5@bw+10kg
T-bar row 4×10@70kg
Zottman curl 4×10@5kg (each side)
Total time : 87 mins