Proper Bicep Curl Execution: A Simple Trick

May 19, 2011 in Fitness & Physical Activity | 0 comments

Most people aren’t doing bicep curls as accurately and effectively as possible.

Here’s the number one trick – when you are training the muscle that lies in between the shoulder and the elbow, those two joints need to be perfectly stabilized in order to optimize the isolation of the bicep. If the shoulder and the elbow are swaying or moving even ever so slightly, the range of motion is displaced from the muscle you are attempting to work – and you simply won’t be getting the results you are looking for.

Here are the movements that your body will subconsciously try to kick in, in order to save your poor bicep from proper isolation (in other words, the DON’Ts of the move):

– DON’T let your back sway. Your knees need to be slightly bent, hips slightly back, core contracted, so that NOTHING except the bicep moves.
– DON’T curl your wrists in at the top. That movement is simply the load and range of motion being displaced from the bicep.
– DON’T let the elbows move forward during the concentric contraction (the way up), or let them move back during the eccentric contraction (the way down). This displaces the range as well, and uses momentum. Keep the elbows anchored at your sides, just slightly in front of the ribs (if they are anchored right beside the body – too far back, you won’t get the full arc that you need for optimal range of motion, and therefore strengthening of the biceps).
– DON’T let your shoulders round forward as you lower the weights. The eccentric contraction (lowering) can be the most painful part of the exercise, and the most important – you will likely feel the slight tearing necessary for re-growth. Bodies subconsciously avoid this long stretch by letting the shoulders follow the weight.

If you want to pretend you’re changing your body, let these things happen!
If you want to actually benefit your body in your strength regime… DON’T!

For clients who have a lot of trouble stabilizing the elbow joint, I have them execute a bicep curl against the wall.

*Have your shoulders and elbows pressed firmly into the wall to stabilize, and the hips can be off the wall. Other principles of form remain the same. Chest is slightly lifted, knees a bit bent, core stabilized. Begin with arms extended, palms faced forward, and elbows a bit bent (if your arms are FULLY extended, the elbow will be locked and therefore carrying the load, rather than the bicep). So you are extended enough for a full range execution, however the bicep never fully releases at the bottom when you do not lock the elbow. Exhale, contract the biceps and curl the weights up without curling the wrists, moving the elbows or shoulders. At the top, squeeze the bicep without letting the load shift off of that isolated muscle. Inhale, and slowly lower (twice as slowly as you lifted) in a forward arc, while still keeping the elbows pressed into the wall.

We sure can make a bicep curl complicated, huh? Truth is, the principles of this exercise are common sense and apply to all isolation exercises. They are worth knowing, because the tiniest tweaking to any exercise can make a WORLD of difference in your form, and therefore your results.

Apply these tips starting now, and start to see a big difference in the tightness and accuracy of shape in your arms. :)

*featured photo found at:
*post photo found at:

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