Technique Tuesday

Getting the Most Out of Traditional Bicep Curls

Bicep Curl Tips
The bicep curl is an old-school weightlifting technique that has stood the test of time.  If you’re looking to add some muscle and shape to your arms, the classic bicep curl is the way to go.

3 Tips to Better Bicep Curls.

1. Focus on form first. Way too many fitness enthusiasts think they need to go heavy when it comes to building great arms.  While heavier weights will build more muscle, it means nothing without proper form.  Start with lighter weights (dumbbells or barbell) and be sure you’re using a full range of motion without compensating in other areas (rocking the body, throwing your back into it, etc.).  Once you master the correct form for the desired number of reps (6-10 tens to work well for building the biceps), it’s time to slowly add weight. 2. Isolate the biceps. The biceps are a great “assisting” muscle for exercises like pull-ups and rows, but if you really want to hit them then you have to isolate.  Curls (there are a ton of variations) are the best isolation exercise for the biceps, so make sure they are included in your regular strength training routine. 3. Add variations. The standard standing or seated curl is a simple and efficient way to work the biceps, but you can also add some variations that can boost your results and keep your programming fresh.  Incline dumbbell curls, hammer curls, preacher curls and concentration curls are all great bicep exercises to consider. Looking to perfect your form during a bicep curl?  Here are some quick tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of every single repetition:
  • With the dumbbells securely in your hands, palm facing forward and arms at your side, exhale and slowly bend your elbow and contract your biceps to draw (curl) the weight upward.
  • While lifting, try to keep every other part of your body still.
  • Raise the weight until it is at shoulder height, pause for a second at the top.
  • Inhale and slowly lower the weight back to the starting position, being careful not to let it just drop back down — control the movement in each direction.
  • Keep your wrists straight and rigid throughout the entire curl. It is easy to cause injury by using your wrist as a lever or letting it swing loosely.
  • Don’t lean forward to start the curl, and / or rock backward during the lift. Your body should not be acting as a pendulum during the curl — this takes the focus away from your biceps, and can cause a loss of balance and possible injury.
  • You can do dumbbell curls with both arms at the same time (or alternating arms), but for simplicity’s sake (especially as a beginner), you should probably start with one arm at a time. Or, you can do curls with both arms at the same time by using a barbell.
  • When you finish a curl, make sure you extend your arm fully — leaving your elbow slightly bent is another cheat that will reduce the impact of each curl.
  • Again, it is better to reduce the weight, or your reps or sets, than to let your form break down.