Weightlifting Technique: Bicep Curls

Everyone wants the large, impressive biceps, right? Bicep curl technique isn’t difficult. This isolation exercise is a good supplement to your strength training program to focus directly on your bicep muscles. Here is a short, concise article describing how to effectively use the bicep curl exercise in your weight lifting program.

Muscles Exercised

As the name implies, bicep curls are an isolation exercise for your biceps. The goal of this exercise is to focus exclusively on your bicep muscles.

Exercise Technique

  • Use only the bicep muscles to complete a proper curl. Concentrate on contracting the biceps to raise the weights in a controlled manner.
  • Only your forearms should move, rotating at your elbows as you raise the weight. Your upper arms and body should remain motionless with your elbows at your sides. This will decrease momentum that may assist the lift reducing its effectiveness.
  • Return the weights to the starting position also in a controlled manner keeping tension on your biceps throughout the lift
  • Bicep curls are typically performed with a barbell, an EZ-curl bar, or dumbbells
  • Select a weight that you can perform all of your repetitions using proper technique. On your last 1-2 sets, your last repetitions should be very difficult.

Standing Bicep Curls

  • Although I always recommend using strict form when performing any exercise, it’s generally accepted practice to “cheat” somewhat with the bicep curl to allow you to lift heavier weights and to complete additional repetitions. By leaning back slightly during the lift, some momentum can be used to aid in the exercise.
  • Cheating should be minimal and only on later sets and reps. The majority of your sets and reps should be performed with strict form using little or no leaning.
  • Standing bicep curls can be performed with a barbell, EZ-curl bar, or dumbbells
  • Place your feet somewhat wider than shoulder width with knees slightly bent
  • Perform the lift as described in the technique above. You may lean back slightly as you lift the weight during latter reps to increase the number of reps you can perform, however if you are cheating on the first few reps, you should lower the weight to something you can control using your bicep muscles.
  • For stricter form, which will emphasize the bicep, use some type of back support to eliminate cheating
  • When using dumbbells, lifting both dumbbells at the same time reduces rest for each arm between repetitions increasing the intensity of the exercise. Typically, however they are lifted alternating arms for each repetition.
  • Avoid swinging the dumbbell. You can avoid swinging the weights by keeping your elbows at your sides throughout each repetition.

Seated Bicep Curls

  • Performing bicep curls while seated in a bench forces stricter form by eliminating use of the upper body to create momentum
  • Seated bicep curls are performed using dumbbells
  • Keep the upper arm perpendicular to the floor with the elbows at your sides. Do not move the upper arm forward to swing the weight. This creates momentum, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise. The purpose of seated bicep curls is to place more focus directly on the bicep, so no cheating should be used on this exercise.

Advanced Techniques: There are a number of advanced techniques that you can use to really burn out your biceps. These techniques can take a toll on your central nervous system. To avoid overtraining, you may not want to use more than one type of advanced technique in a single workout. Two of these techniques are:

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