Working out any muscle is a good thing, but there are clearly some parts of the body where extra focus brings with it certain benefits. It’s never going to hurt to have huge upper arms when out on the town, and sometimes all you want to do after a workout is gaze in the mirror and tense something impressive – hey, we all do it. For that purpose, you can’t go wrong with bicep curls, but it’s not all about glamour. Working your arms with curls and other variations can improve your grip strength, which can make all the difference when you’re trying to push through those last few pull-ups and other pulling exercises.
How To Do Dumbell Bicep Curls
Grab a pair of dumbbells. Don’t opt for weights you can barely lift, you’re looking to complete 10 to 12 reps. Hold the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, curl the weights up to your chest. Don’t lean back, and don’t enlist momentum to help by swinging up through your body – it’s cheating. Shoot for three sets.
You can opt to curl both dumbbells at the same time or alternate them, but either way it’s vital to lower the weight back to the start point after each rep in order to stretch the muscle properly and work all the muscle fibres.
Start each rep with your hands holding a dumbbell behind your body with arms fully straight. Doing so will help you remember to keep your elbow joints in a fixed position so that your biceps muscles have to do all the lifting.
Squeeze at the top
At the top of the rep, pause and hold the weight in position, then squeeze your biceps hard. This will maximise the tension on the muscles and so recruit more fibres to manage the weight. It will also increase the amount of blood in your biceps to promote a bigger pump.
Go down slow
Take between two and four seconds to lower the weights back to the start. Why so slow? Your muscles are stronger when lowering a weight than when lifting it, so you need to make them work harder during this phase of the rep to realise the muscle’s growth potential.
Finsh with curls to 90°
Still cranking out the curls at breakneck speed? Feels good, but it’s not super-effective. Pick a lighter weight, pause when your forearm’s horizontal, and squeeze the dumbbells as hard as possible for ten seconds. Finish your set with ten reps.
Bicep Curls Variations
Barbell bicep curls
If you want to lift more weight use a barbell. Make sure you avoid lifting the weight by leaning back – the weight should be comfortable enough for you to lift without straining your back. Try lifting with your back flat against a wall as a way of learning to avoid this.
Another alternative is reverse curls, where you switch your grip so your palms face you at the bottom of the rep and away from you at the top of each rep. This targets muscles in your forearms as well as your biceps for thicker, stronger arms.
Dumbbell Biceps Curl Workout
Follow this quick workout to build strength in your arms: complete a set of five reps with a heavy weight, making sure that you lower the weight or weights under control. Reduce the weights as you increase the reps with minimal rest. Go from five reps to eight to 12, then work to failure.
Additional reporting by Scott Blake (@Scott_Blakey)