Want to build bigger, stronger and more defined arms? Then include these rare but hugely rewarding biceps exercises to pack on size and strength!
EZ-bar reverse curl
Why? A lot of people think that using an overhand grip simply shifts the workload to the forearms, making the reverse curl only good for building forearm and grip strength. However, this hand position also works the brachialis, which is the deep-lying muscle involved in flexing the elbow that sits underneath the two main muscles that comprise your biceps (the short head and the long head). So if your arm-size gains have stalled, training your brachialis can deliver a biceps breakthrough. What’s more, a good grip isn’t only good for removing lids from jars: the stronger your grip strength the longer you’ll live, according to a six-year study of more than 140,000 people published in the Lancet.
How? Firstly, be aware that you’re not as strong with an overhand grip compared with an underhand one, so reduce the weight accordingly. Stand tall with your shoulders back and feet hip-width apart holding an EZ-bar with an overhand grip with your hands just outside your hips. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the bar up towards your chest, stopping just before your forearms reach vertical. Hold this top position for one second, squeezing your biceps hard, then slowly lower the bar back down to the start, fully straightening your arms and flexing your triceps. Avoid rocking to generate momentum.
Why? This double dumbbell lift includes a rotational element to work all the major muscles of your arms. It targets both the short and long heads of the biceps, as well as the brachialis, on the way up, and then the brachioradialis – a major forearm muscle – when you rotate your palms and lower the weights back down. Similarly with the EZ-bar reverse curl you’ll need to choose lighter dumbbells.
How? Stand tall with your shoulders back and feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand with straight arms and palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height and pause at the top, squeezing your biceps hard. Then rotate your wrists so your palms again face away from you, then slowly lower the weight back down to the start, fully straightening your arms and flexing your triceps at the bottom. If your elbows move forwards or out to the sides then the dumbbells are too heavy, so select lighter ones and finish the set.
Incline biceps curl
Why? In a seated position, with your arms starting each rep behind your body, changes the angle and range of motion through which your biceps must move to lift and lower the weights under control. It also places more of the workload on the long head of the biceps, and the more you can isolate each part of a muscle group the bigger and stronger it will grow. Just make sure you balance it out by doing an equal number of lifts that target the short head of the biceps, such as preacher curls or concentration curls.
How? Sit on a bench set to an incline between 30 ̊and 45 ̊, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms straight and palms facing forwards. Your hands should start behind your torso. Keeping your back flat against the bench and your elbows locked into position tight to your sides, curl both dumbbells up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the move, then slowly lower the weights back to the start, flexing your triceps at the bottom.
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