August 15, 2020 10 min read
Ok, so we’ve eaten the spinach our parents told us would give us big Popeye guns. But, come to find out, those coveted bulging biceps we see on Popeye, Arnold, and The Rock aren’t so easy to obtain as simply eating spinach and doing a fewpushups. But before we put in the work, we have to first become versed in the basics ofbicep curl form, which is one of the most populararm exercises for building strength and muscle tone. Along withweight loss goals, strength is one of the most important areas of fitness!
Bicep exercises target several muscles in the arm, including the brachioradialis, front deltoid, and especially thebiceps brachii, sometimes known as the two-headed muscle of the arm. The main function of the bicep brachii is the ability to bend and twist your arm. Made up of a short head and long head, the two parts work together as one muscle. Both parts extend from the shoulder region (the proximal end) to the elbow area (the distal end), allowing your arm to bend at the elbow. The short head is on the inside of the arm, while the long head is on the outside. The long head is what forms the hump of the bicep, while the short head contributes to its girth and width. Both are important for developing majorly impressive guns.
Bicep curls to increasearm strength can be done in a variety of ways, usingbarbells,dumbbells, and resistance bands, among others. The common factor that each variation has is that thebicep muscles are contracted as you hold the weight, and then returned to the beginning position. Sounds simple enough right? The reality is that this exercise leads to some of the most commonweightlifting injuries in the gym.
The most common injury frombicep curls is tendon tears or tendinopathy. This affliction can be caused by overuse or using too much weight (ego lifting). Overuse is a natural result of aging, but it can also occur by the repetition of the exercise. However, tendon tears are more often caused by using too much weight. This is sometimes called ego lifting because you are trying to lift the amount your ego wants you to, not the amount that is safe and most helpful for your level of ability. One common sign of a tendon tear can be aPopeye deformity. Often caused by overuse and repetitive motion, this occurs when the muscle bunches up after a tear, forming a large, painful ball. Yes, this happens mostly to people over 50, but it does occur in younger people as well, and sometimes requires surgery to fix.
Tendonitis, another common injury, is an acute inflammation of the tendon caused by micro-tears due to its overuse. It can occur suddenly, or as a series of repeat micro-traumas. It is also said to be the eventual result of tendinopathy.
Other less common injuries include ulnar neuropathies and rupture of the pectoralis major.
One way to prevent tears from happening is to start new fitness routines slowly. Don’t overdo it like Popeye! Your body is not elastic and needs time to get used to new movements. Take breaks often to let your muscles rest, resist usingheavier weights, and stop if you feel pain. Be patient, your body will catch up to where you want to be.
You might have noticed some stares from apersonal trainer or two eyeballing your form from across the room. It is likely they may have caught you doing one of thesecommon mistakes. Before we tell you how to properly perform thebicep curl, it is helpful to first know what not to do, so you can avoid it.
Another important thing to keep in mind when doingbiceps exercises is how you are gripping the bar ordumbbells. Like otherstrength training exercises, the way you grip directly affects how effective and efficient your result will be. Changing up your grip will help you avoid plateaus. You can also target certain muscle groups just by the way you are gripping. The following are some grip variations to try out:
So now that you have a little background on where to place your grip, go grab apair of dumbbells and let’s start ourbiceps workout.
Using the Cable Machine:
We recommend working on your sweet baby biceps about once a week. Try for 4 to 5 varied curls as long as you are doing a back workout during the week. Work from your skill level:
When you structure your workout around biceps, we recommend ending a bicep workout with compound pulling exercises likechin-ups. You can alsosuperset them (working them in with an opposing muscle group without a break in between; you are resting when working the opposing muscle). An example would be tryingtricep dips tosuperset thebicep exercises on arm day.
So now that you’ve learned all about properbicep curl form, grip, and variations, don’t get stuck in the routine of anisolation exercise! Of course, everyone wants big guns like Popeye, but biceps should not always be the highlight of the routine. Make sure you are getting a full-body workout. Remember thatsquats, deadlifts,bodyweight exercises, and hang cleans should all be added to your regular well-balanced exercise routine. So get ready, grab thosedumbbells and your protein shake, and hit the gym; you’re about to go make some gains!