How to master and get the most out of your bicep curls workout?
Bicep curls target the bicep brachii muscles, the larger muscle that lies on the front of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. With proper and regular training these muscles can get stronger and toned.
The dumbbell curl is a famous bicep exercise so it’s no surprise that gym-lovers would like to have a strong grip and compare their dumbbell curling strengths with others.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of bicep curls, the common mistakes and safety measures you should take to avoid injuries.
What is a Bicep Curl?
The bicep curl is one of the popular weight-training exercises for arm muscles. This specific type of exercise focuses on strengthening the bicep brachii muscles. Since the biceps brachii has two heads attached to your forearm, the bicep curls have different variations for each head. Thus, weight trainers follow different movements to target a different area of the bicep brachii muscle.
It is an effective strength training exercise. You can perform various variations and movements using dumbbells, a barbell, an arm blaster aka bicep blaster or bicep isolator, resistance bands, or a cable machine to build strength in the upper arms. The variations include preacher curls, hammer curls, and alternate dumbbell curls.
Did You Know?
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According to Harvard Health Publishing, building muscle mass helps you increase bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. Similarly, according to the American Heart Association, adults should indulge in moderate-to-high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. Thus, Bicep Curls are among the suitable strength training exercises to meet your muscle activity goals.
It’s All About Selecting The Right Weights
Selecting the right weights is important before you dive into bicep curls! According to the American Council on Exercise, it is preferable to choose heavier weights than light weights. Lifting heavy improves muscle growth, helps in improving muscle strength, and increases your resting metabolism. Before you get started, evaluate your strength and select the heavy dumbbell so that you can do 8 to 12 reps with a proper form.
How to do Bicep Curls: Step-by-Step Instructions
Once you have selected the right weight, you are now ready to get started. You can start with 5 or 10 pounds per dumbbell. But if you are a beginner, to recover from an injury, it is suggested that you start with 2 pounds weight. Follow the steps below to do the bicep curl correctly and effectively.
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. You need to keep your abdominal muscles engaged and maintain an upright posture.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Do not grip the dumbbell too tightly so that you feel strain in your forearms. Your arms should relax down at the sides of your body with palms facing forward.
- Bend at the elbow and raise the dumbbells up toward your shoulders by flexing your bicep muscles. Your upper arms should be stationary and only your forearms should move. Bring the dumbbells down the same way you raised them, and lower them to the starting position.
- Breathe out as you lift the dumbbells, maintaining your shoulders, back and head up straight.
- Complete 8 to 12 reps without swinging your weights.
Bicep Curls: Common Mistakes
To avoid any chances of getting injured and to ensure that you are doing the bicep curls accurately, understand these common mistakes mentioned below:
- Losing wrist control: Although you need to focus on contracting your biceps during the curls, don’t forget about your wrists. People often lose wrist control, which results in wrist collapse, during the lowering movement. Using weight lifting gloves can also prove helpful with attaining control.
- Swinging: Relying on momentum to complete a bicep curl is one of the most common mistakes. Using momentum might allow more weight to be lifted, but it takes the focus away from the bicep. You might observe a gym-goer or yourself in the mirror, to see if you begin to swing the weights around more towards the end of the set, if so, you too are making the same mistake. Keep your torso upright, braced and still to avoid any injury.
- Dragging/Moving your elbows: If your elbows flare out or move behind your back as you lift the weight, it means you are dragging. If you can’t keep your elbows at your sides, you need to lower the weights.
- Too heavy or too light: If you choose extremely heavy weights you will feel fatigued way before completing the reps, and choosing too light weights will not help you tone your muscles.
Benefits of Bicep Curls
A few benefits of regularly performing the bicep curls are mentioned here:
- Ideal for Bicep Training: The bicep curl is a single-joint movement, that makes it great to isolate the bicep.
- Better Elbow Strength: Bicep curls help to strengthen elbow flexion resulting in better elbow movements in your daily activities.
- More Grip Strength: It helps improve grip strength. The strong grip helps to perform compound exercises like deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups better.
Dumbbell Curl Variations
You can switch the variations in your workout routine once you have mastered the standard dumbbell curl routine.
Hammer curls use a neutral grip with your palms facing each other during the full range of motions. This variation reduces the stress on your wrists. Simple yet effective.
Image source: shutterstock
A Preacher bench is required for this variation. It is suggested to use lighter weights when performing preacher curls. Rest your upper arms over the preacher bench with your palms facing upwards, slowly lift your forearms until they are in a vertical position, then lower them and continue doing so.
Image source: shutterstock
For this variation, stand upright with your palms downwards, and reverse grip your dumbbell at your shoulder-width position. Make sure your elbows remain stationary and shoulders straight as you curl towards your shoulder in a full bicep contraction.
Image source: shutterstock
It is a seated variation, perform it by sitting on an incline bench with your upper body leaning back at a 45° angle. This variation focuses on the long head of your biceps.
Image source: TNation
If you want to improve your lifting, a concentration curl is the best variation to do so. Practice it by sitting on a bench, resting the back of your upper arm against your inner thigh, and lifting a dumbbell. Curl the dumbbell up to your shoulder slowly, pause at the top, and then lower it down. Concentration Curls help you find the imbalances in the strength of your arms.
Image source: Inspire USA Foundation
Bicep Curls Modifications for Individuals with Limited Mobility/Injuries
Modifications for bicep curls for individuals with specific physical limitations or injuries can include:
Use lighter weights
Individuals with injuries or limitations can start with lighter weights and gradually work their way up to heavier weights as they build strength.
Use resistance bands
Resistance bands can be a great alternative for individuals who are unable to use weights. They come in different levels of resistance and can be used to target the biceps and other muscle groups.
Alter grip position
Individuals with wrist pain can try using an alternative grip position, such as a neutral grip, to help reduce discomfort.
Decrease range of motion
Individuals with shoulder injuries or limitations can decrease the range of motion during bicep curls to prevent further injury. For example, they can stop the curl before the weight reaches the shoulder.
Seated bicep curls
Individuals with balance or mobility issues can perform bicep curls while seated, using a chair with a backrest for support.
Important: Consult with a medical professional or a certified fitness instructor before starting any exercise program or modifying exercises to ensure safety.
The bicep curl workout offers tremendous benefits associated with strength, improving intramuscular coordination, and increasing your resting metabolism and endurance. Include the variations in your workout routine and avoid the common mistakes to enjoy the experience and get the most out of your exercise.
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