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Friday, July 5, 2013


The Bicep Curl is one of the mainstream exercises and included in all weight lifting programs for male and female. But it is also one of the exercises that you see most people doing wrong and cheating on, not using the full ROM, completing it too fast causing the rocking of the upper body, and using weights that they really aren’t able to handle if the exercise was done properly.

There are many variations of the Bicep curl, but which variation affects this muscle group more? Which is right, using the full range of motion or a minor portion of it? Does rocking back and forth really help? What is the correct position and posture to do this exercise?

First of all the Bicep muscle group is composed of the long head and the short head of the Bicep brachii, the coracobrachialis, and even though the muscle brachioradialis inserts in the radius bone, it is activated when most of the bicep curls are done.

So what are the positions and execution that this muscle group can be worked on? Like most exercises for limbs it can be done standing or seated. The standing position should be feet slightly apart (less then shoulder length) and arms should be naturally beside your body in anatomical position (hands in supinated position or facing forward). Your shoulders should be pulled back and open with your chest held up high. In this position you bend your elbows and the hands (palms up) go up towards your shoulders without moving the upper part of your arm. The movement without weights should be the same as with weights. So with dumbbells or barbell your elbows should be pointing straight down and the palm of hands should always be in supinated position.  The seated position is the same, with the only difference that you might never see the barbell used, because the legs are in the way. The ROM should be bending your elbows until the weight reaches your shoulders then back down where the elbows are almost fully extended.

In gyms you see the bicep curls being done with the elbows pointing outwards. But if you really look at the men who execute the movement in this way, you will see that their anatomical position is different to an average person. This is due to more than normal developed back and shoulder muscles which makes it difficult for them to keep their arms straight down by their side. For them it will have an effect, but for a person with regular anatomical position of the body, it can cause injuries when elbows are pointing in any direction other than straight to the back of your body.

If you ever do feel your shoulders or elbow, the ergonomics of how you do the biceps curl could be wrong. Injuries related to the wrong execution of the bicep curl could lead to inflammation of the tendons of the elbow or tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and even shoulder injuries. Proper positioning of the wrists are important and also the core and lower back strength.

There are many variations of exercises, and most of them use all of the muscles of the biceps. Most of the exercises such as hammer curls, concentration curls, low pulley curls, and even reverse curls (also activates the muscles of the forearms) are a risk for injury because they activate the brachioradialus, when added with incorrect technique. Machine curls and preacher may be an even higher risk because there is big tension at the lowest point of the weight with the extension of the arm, with possibility of affecting the shoulder. High pulley curls and barbell curls are considered safe and used as a strength exercise related to the rehabilitation of these muscles.
If you want bigger and better guns always include the dumbbell curls, hammer curls and curls on the high pulley, but remember letting your elbow advance forward, even if it is just a little, will compromise the full ROM and produce less tension on your biceps. And if you aren’t making any further progress, try loaded negative reps. So keep the right posture and technique for massive guns.

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