Let’s talk about one of the coolest, yet most misunderstood, exercises ever – the Biceps Curl.
Even though curls are one of the most widely used exercises, most people still get them wrong. Which leads to a sad result: no gainz, but many inflamed elbows.
So, if you’re looking to add serious size to your biceps, here’s my 10-point hit list for getting the most out of the exercise next time you’re training arms.
#1 You must start with the the arms fully extended. Ideally even flex the triceps to create maximum length in the biceps.
#2 Always attempt to break the bar into two pieces by turning your hands outward. Once you can actually break the bar, I will personally send you a box protein bars of your choice.
#3 Tuck your abs in a bit to create maximum tension.
#4 Place your thumb under the bar; the thumb has pulling power as well. Once you fatigue, you may shift it back over the bar to get some additional reps.
#5 Initiate from the biceps. This is where 99% of all curls fail. Most trainees move their shoulders first before curling anything, thereby doing a front raise and not so much a curl. Create isometric tension in the biceps first, then start lifting the bar. Ideally, your training partner can tap your arms lightly at the beginning of the curl. In a very manly way, of course…
#6 As you curl up, the shoulder positioning changes. In a nutshell, in order to follow gravity, the shoulders must move forward as you cross 90 degrees, thereby allowing you a full contraction on top.
#7 As you curl the weight up, your elbows should move away from your body – remember we are curling a barbell, not at the cable. So in order to make up for the curve, move your elbows away from your rib cage as you curl the weight up.
#8 In order to add size to your arms, you’ll need to gain weight overall – it varies, but anywhere from 10-20 pounds, depending on height per inch on the bi’s. So make sure your diet is in check.
#9 Don’t forget about Zottman Curls. This is a great exercise for people like me, who struggle with long forearms and weak wrists, resulting in puny arms since the brachioradialis never gets stimulated.
How to perform a Zottman curl: Start with a regular curl during the concentric (upwards) phase. At the top of the movement, twist your hand so your palm, which started facing your body, is now facing away from your body. Then slowly lower the dumbbell for a 3-4 second negative reverse curl on the eccentric (downward) portion of the movement. This will allow you to overload the reverse curl part of the exercise without compromising form.
#10 Do Drag Curls. This does not refer to your choice of clothing, but to the fact that you will drag the barbell along your body, instead of having it out front like when doing a regular barbell curl. This will make for a better peak contraction on the top. I usually go about 30% lighter on these than on regular barbell curls.