Gone are the days when lifting weights was only associated with getting a bulky muscular physique. There are plenty of reasons why one might lift weight; it may be to strengthen the muscles, improve posture, gain bone density, or so on. But where exactly should you start?
A biceps curl is one of the most basic strength training exercises that you can perform with dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. This isolation exercise (specifically targeting one area) can also be included in your home workouts since you can use anything that you feel is heavy enough, for eg: Filled water bottles, books, or bags (great, right?!)
Fitness Expert, Dinesh Kasana takes us through the steps of acing the perfect bicep curl and how to take it up a notch as well. Let's go!
Benefits of doing Biceps Curl
You’d probably be wondering what is such a great deal about such a basic exercise and does it even have any benefits that cannot be overlooked?
Well yes, biceps curl
- strengthens the upper arm
- trains the shoulder to be more stable,
- and teaches your core to engage.
With this, they also help in
- increasing muscle size
- improving athletic performance,
- and making daily activities easier
The brachialis (the muscle between the bicep and the triceps) and brachioradialis (the muscle that connects the upper arm to the forearm) that give sculpted arms are targeted and stimulated by this exercise.
How to do a Biceps Curl
Step 1. Stand straight with your arms at your sides, gripping a dumbbell in each hand.
Step 2. Ensure that your elbows are close to your torso and your palms are facing forward.
Step 3. Exhale as you slowly curl the weights up to your shoulder level while squeezing your biceps and keeping your upper arms still.
Pro Tip: Perform three sets of 8-12 reps for muscular strength, 10-15 reps for muscular endurance and 4-6 reps for hypertrophy with one minute of rest between sets.
Variations of Biceps Curl you can try
With one tiny change, this bicep curl variation is similar to the regular bicep curl. To perform this, keep your thumbs up, turn the palms towards the midline of the body and curl up the weight towards the shoulder, only enabling the elbow to flex. Return to the starting position by extending the elbow and lowering the weight.
For a reverse curl place a set of dumbbells on the front of your thighs and grab them with your hands facing down. Lift the weights toward your shoulders by bending your elbows and do not forget to exhale at this point.
Now lift the weights until your biceps are fully contracted then steadily lower the weights to the beginning position, inhaling as you go. Including this exercise in your routine can help you lift more weight during normal biceps curls.
To perform a zottman curl, begin with your palms facing towards each other, then hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides. Now as you’re lifting the weights, curl them up to your shoulders, keeping your upper arms steady and turning your palms upward.
At the top of the movement, pause and slowly rotate your grasp such that your palms face down. Using this overhand grip, carefully drop the dumbbells back to the starting position, counting for three to five beats as you do so to ensure you're not lowering the weight too quickly.
Rotate your hands ensuring your palms are in the starting position facing each other when the dumbbells are near to your thighs again.
The Zottman curl is highly effective because it comprises a large movement and offers the bicep a full stretch.
Concentration curls are a bit different since they are performed by sitting. To do these, sit on a bench and lift a dumbbell while resting the back of your upper arm against your inner thigh. At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps before carefully lowering the dumbbell.
These help to improve muscle strength and power by targeting the biceps. This workout helps sculpt the front region of the upper arm.
This variation uses a preacher curl bench to isolate the biceps by supporting the arm. To perform this, place your upper arms on the preacher bench while seated or standing. Then with the elbows and shoulders externally rotated, bring the elbows directly in front of the shoulders with the triceps pressing forcefully onto the pad at this point.
Retract the shoulder blades and stabilize the shoulder by engaging the upper back. To bring the weight closer to the shoulders, flex the elbow. Extend the arm and drop the weight back to the starting position after achieving maximum elbow flexion while still keeping the upper arm on the pad.
This improves muscle growth as well as helps build strength.
Incline Dumbbell Curls
The incline dumbbell curl targets the arm muscles. Sit on an incline bench set to a 45 or 60-degree angle to perform incline dumbbell curls. Lift a set of dumbbells to shoulder level by squeezing your biceps and bending your elbows, then lower them again.
Repeat this action until you've completed the appropriate amount of reps. This activates the muscles in your bicep more than any other exercise.
Mistakes to Avoid for a Safer Workout
- Throughout the movement, keep your elbows and upper arms still.
- To avoid momentum, don't do the movement too quickly. Reduce the number of repetitions each minute.
- You do not want to hurt yourself so try using not too heavier weights. This should help avoid having other muscles, such as the core and back, handle the load instead of the biceps. Lighter loads allow you to complete controlled reps while maintaining a proper form.
Now that you know about all the variations…
...you can perform these according to your training requirement. No matter which variation you prefer, add this to your exercise routines without fail since these activate the muscles in your bicep more than any other exercise. Trust us, it’s basic yet fun and isn’t very difficult. So, get that toned arm or that muscular physique whatever you wish for with the biceps curl.