Brett Contreras just had an article published on T-Muscle. He's been hooking himself up to an EEG and doing a variety of exercises to see what muscles get the most activation when you do them,
This week was The Best Back and Biceps Exercises (surprisingly, WFS this time - no "fitness models" in the article).
Not a big surprise, weighted chinups, neutral-grip pullups, and pullups all rated very highly in upper back and biceps development. For the trapezius muscles, rows showed quite well too. Isolation exercises like preacher curls and concentration curls didn't show as well those compound exercises. Some isolation exercises did well, but less than I'd have thought.
So, interesting. The way to a big back and strong arms seems to be through chinups and rows and deadlifts more than lots of curls and pulldowns. Though barbell curls rate well, too, so it's not all compounds at the top. But compound lifts do very well indeed.
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