January 07, 2022 9 min read
When it comes to building upper body strength, bicep curls are a foundational exercise that many gym enthusiasts love to do. It is a staple that never goes out of fashion which is why nearly every gym enthusiast’s bro-split boasts of at least one bicep curl variation.
That's because bicep curls are a widely accepted, tested-and-trusted exercise for bigger arms.
The bigger your guns, the better your physique. Many people associate being fit with having guns even The Rock would envy. This has led to somewhat of a crazed interest in any exercise that emphasizes the muscles of the arms. Many workout routines require immense upper body strength. To train the rest of your body muscle groups, you need muscle strength in your arms, shoulders, back, and core muscles.
Bicep curls isolate and engage the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. These muscles contribute to not only having bigger arms but also greater arm strength. Bicep curls also activate the stabilizer muscles, helping in core strength. Add in the improvement of the elbow joint and you get a one-size-fits-all exercise.
The arm is an intricate system of muscle groups and there are many effective variations that engage these muscles.
What makes bicep curls an unchallenged champion for arm muscle hypertrophy and strength is their ability to be tailored to suit your needs. Although bicep curls are primarily for the isolation and activation of the bicep heads and their surrounding muscles, they also challenge the triceps, delts, wrist extension, and wrist flexors.
There is more than one way to go around a bicep curl.
With a little tweak in equipment, grip form, hand placement, elbow flexion, and range of motion, a simple bicep curl can become even more interesting.
Listed below are 10 proven bicep curl variations to stimulate arm growth.
Many gym enthusiasts were first introduced to this variation before any other and so this bicep curl is widely believed to be the standard bicep curl. The dumbbell curl is a simple lift and is thus a beginner-friendly exercise that belongs on any gym noob’s list. Begin with lightweight dumbbells to ensure that you engage the right muscle groups to perform the exercise properly.
To do dumbbell bicep curls:
Although it's a straightforward exercise, a lot can go wrong while doing the dumbbell bicep curls. Many amateurs make the mistake of going too fast and swinging the dumbbell with momentum. This would lead to heaving the dumbbell as opposed to the proposed lifting motion necessary for triggering muscle growth. When doing dumbbell curls, concentrate more on keeping proper form than on the weight you are lifting.
Hammer curls are also popularly known as the neutral grip dumbbell curl. They are a relatively easy strength training exercise that targets the long head of the biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis for bigger biceps. Also performed using a dumbbell, the major difference between a conventional dumbbell bicep curl and the hammer curl lies in the grip.
To do hammer curls:
Unlike the dumbbell bicep curl, the hammer curl puts less stress on your wrist. It is also a valid exercise for increasing grip strength. To make this variation more challenging, bring each dumbbell to the opposite shoulder in a cross-body hammer curl.
The barbell curl is a more difficult bicep curl variation that puts strain on the wrist and elbow joints. Unlike its predecessors, the barbell bicep curl employs a shorter range of motion to activate the arm and chest muscles. A barbell bicep curl is a great option for muscle hypertrophy as it allows you to lift heavier weights in the long run. This would lead to increased muscle mass for an overall jacked look.
To do the barbell bicep curl:
Barbell curls can also be performed with EZ bars. Research shows that the EZ bicep curl is a more effective variation in the stimulation of biceps brachii and brachioradialis.
Cable curls activate the same muscle groups as the conventional bicep grip but place less strain on the wrist. It is one of the most effective exercises for isolating and activating the bicep muscles. Since cable machines provide a constant arm tension regardless of your arm position during the range of motion, it provides an increased chance of muscle hypertrophy. Because the machine is easy to use, this bicep variation is gym-noob friendly.
To do cable curls:
The concentration curl has a range of motion so short that it isolates and concentrates on activating the bicep muscles. This helps you to focus on the concentric contraction of the bicep heads and brachialis. This leads to bigger muscles in little to no time.
To do the concentration curls:
To get the best results, leave a slight bend in your elbow as you approach the starting position. This would keep tension in your arms.
The TRX bicep curl remains one of the best bicep exercises to build muscle. Unlike other bicep curl variations, the TRX bicep curl uses bands and your body weight against gravity to simulate pull-ups to stimulate the biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, forearm flexors, and abs. Because of the suspension of your body against gravity, your core remains involuntarily engaged through your reps.
Overall, the TRX bicep curl is a bodyweight bicep exercise that not only helps in upper body strength but also stability. You can make this exercise easier or harder simply by adjusting your feet closer to the attachment point or further away from it.
To do the TRX bicep curl:
To do reverse curls, simply reverse the basic bicep curl grip. Instead of using a supinated grip on your barbell, you hold the bar with a pronated grip. The reverse curls are a more advanced variation that works the biceps and brachioradialis or the forearms. This variation isolates and stimulates the bicep heads better, resulting in an overall more bulked-up upper body. You can use an EZ bar or a barbell to perform reverse curls. The most important thing is, to begin with, a comfortable weight.
To do the reverse curl:
This bicep curl variation is a splendid choice for maximizing the bicep peak. Incline dumbbell curls isolate the long head of the bicep brachii, stretching and contracting it to induce muscle gain. It adds bulk, definition, and a better muscle tone.
To do this variation:
Although this variation might be more challenging, it is a great option for activating the biceps brachii.
The preacher curl remains a popular arm workout amongst bodybuilders. It is also a brilliant choice for gym enthusiasts who struggle with holding proper form during bicep curls. You can do the preacher curl while standing or sitting at the preacher bench. This unique setup leaves you with a choice to dabble in using different weighted types of equipment for your bicep curls. Like other bicep curl variations, the preacher curls can be unilateral or bilateral.
To do preacher curls:
Many bodybuilders consider the preacher curls to be an advanced bodybuilding exercise for bigger arms.
Zottman curls are one of those bicep variations that you don't see in the gym every day. It targets the bicep long and short head along with the entire muscle groups on the arm and forearm.
To do Zottman curls:
Building large biceps that girls will scream for when they see you on the beach requires hard work and some degree of variation. Paired with the RIPPED STACK, your chances of getting shredded arms only increases.
While, of course, all these bicep curl variations are promising for bigger guns, the optimal variation for you depends on what part of the arm you wish to stimulate. The right bicep-blasting moves, coupled with time, progressive overload, and consistency, you are well on your way to securing attention-grabbing guns.