February 15, 2022 9 min read
Arm exercises are a big deal amongst newbies and veteran athletes alike. This might be because strong arms are not only great for show but also play a huge role in your overall upper body strength.
Your quest for more muscular and stronger arms will undoubtedly lead to both compound exercises and isolation exercises alike.
Amongst these variations, cable curls remain a personal favorite and staple in the gym.
Cable bicep curls give your arms, particularly your biceps, the attention they require. Below, we highlight why the cable curl is great for you and the perfect way to execute it.
The cable bicep curl, also known as cable curl, is an isolation exercise that helps to target the biceps.
While many exercises promise to activate and engage the biceps enough to generate hypertrophy, the cable curl is one of the best.
The cable bicep curl is done at a cable machine, bulky gym equipment of steel structure, retractable cables, and attached weights for resistance. Although the cable machine can be used for different exercises, the cable curl is one of the best exercises performed at the machine station.
The cable bicep curl is an awesome upper body strengthening exercise suitable for beginners and professionals alike.
The exercise technique is a pulling action that can easily be learned and perfected in no time. What makes the cable curl stand out amongst the list of never-ending arm exercises is its ability to engage the biceps throughout the concentric and eccentric phase.
Judging this exercise by its simple technique misleads many to perform the exercise incorrectly.
To get the most of the cable bicep curl, you must understand the essence of the exercise:
Below, we have provided in-depth analysis to get you started. With the right tips and tricks at your side, you will no doubt perfect the cable bicep curl in no time.
The primary objective of the cable bicep curl is to isolate and engage the bicep. However, the cable curl engages secondary supporting muscles such as the anterior deltoid, trapezius, levator scapulae, brachialis, brachioradialis, and core as supporting muscles during the movements.
The bicep is located on the front part of the upper arm and is split into two parts that work as one mechanism. The two parts of the biceps are known as the long head and short head of the biceps. Although these two parts function synonymously to move the arms, they also perform independent functions.
This prevents your arm from popping out of the socket with every flexion at the elbow and supination at the forearm.
The short head of the bicep, on the other hand, is the short part of the bicep that helps the arm to flex and supinate at the elbow joint. The short head also plays a huge role in the adduction or moving the arm away from the body.
Although they play different roles, both bicep heads are important for the arm's movements at the elbow and shoulder joint. The biceps are also key stabilizers of the brachialis.
The brachialis is another arm muscle that is activated during the cable curl. The brachialis flexes the forearm by bending at the elbow and bringing the forearm towards your biceps. The brachialis muscle is said to generate the purest form of forearm-elbow flexion.
It is the most important flexor forearm at the elbow that lies deep below the biceps.
The cable bicep curl also activates the brachioradialis. The brachioradialis is a superficial forearm muscle that also helps to flex the forearm. Unlike the brachialis, however, the brachioradialis allows supination and pronation depending on the forearm angle. It also helps to stabilize the elbow during these flexing movements.
The deltoid is the shoulder muscle and is divided into three heads, namely the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid. All three parts function together as one big slab of muscle. However, the anterior head of the deltoid is the only part that receives significant stimulation in the bicep cable curl.
The anterior delt, also known as the front deltoid, is the front part of the deltoid responsible for moving the arms forward. This muscle helps in functional movements like picking items off a chair to gym activities like the bench press.
Another supporting muscle that benefits from the cable curl is the levator scapulae. The levator scapulae is a diminutive muscle located in the neck region that connects the arms to the spine.
This muscle might seem inessential, but it plays a huge role in elevating the shoulder blades.
The levator scapulae help bear the brunt of heavy loads carried by the arms and are often involved in weightlifting exercises.
As unlikely as it might sound, the cable curl also works your trapezius muscles. The trapezius muscles of the back originate from the base of your neck and span across the middle of your back.
The trap is a significant upper body muscle that helps to stabilize and move the shoulder blades. The trap helps to move your neck, arms, shoulders, spine and also accommodates some movements of the torso.
Finally and equally important are the core muscles. The core muscles are comprised of the transverse abdominis, obliques, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, glutes, and erector spinae.
These muscles play a huge role in upper body strength and stability during activities.
When performing the cable curl, especially from a standing position, your core muscles are targeted and activated.
All these muscles might serve different purposes, but in one way or the other, they contribute to having a healthy and strong upper body. While the cable curl is a great way to hone and build your bicep for massive arms that would be a source of envy in the gym, you are simultaneously building other significant major muscle groups too.
While this remains an argument amongst gym members and athletes alike, it is not much of a competition. When building the biceps, both the cable bicep curl and free weight curls, like the dumbbell curl, are perfect for getting those bulging arms that you crave. Although this is good news, both bicep curl variations carry their pros and cons.
Cable bicep curls undoubtedly provide the one thing that dumbbell curls can not provide: constant tension on the bicep muscle.
Dumbbell curls provide great muscle tension, but this stimulation dwindles as you begin the concentric phase. Your biceps receive little to no stimulation at the bottom of the movement when your arms are at your sides. This might prove to be a problem as constant tension is exactly what is needed to help your biceps grow.
This tension breaks down the muscle fibers, inducing the healing and hypertrophy that would, in turn, lead to stronger and bigger muscles.
Reduced tension means reduced stimulation, which translates to a reduced rate in the breakdown of your arm muscle fibers. Other than this minute problem, the dumbbell curls an equally splendid exercise for the arms.
One thing about the cable bicep curl is that it can be performed by an individual who doesn’t have the slightest idea of how to carry out a free-weight curl.
The dumbbell curl, on the other hand, requires knowledge of the proper lifting techniques.
For the best results, combine the cable curl and free-weight curls like the dumbbell and barbell curl.
The variety gives you an edge in the gym. It trains you on all fronts and across all planes, helping your muscles maximize each movement differently. Training with a single exercise gets boring and sets you up for a fitness plateau that will have you feeling drained without noticeable muscle results. Perform the cable curls amongst other free-weight curls to give your arm muscles and other connecting muscles the best.
The cable bicep curl is easy to learn and even easier to perfect as long as you follow the instructions strictly.
To do the cable bicep curl:
While the cable bicep curl is normally done as a bilateral exercise, it is a great idea to consider using it as a unilateral exercise by working one arm at a time. This would help you to correct any muscle imbalances in your arms, leading to a better physique and mobility.
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Stronger arms equal increased strength in many other exercises, so the cable bicep curl is a great addition to any arm day workout.
Some other benefits if the cable bicep curl includes:
There are several mistakes to watch out for when performing the cable bicep curl. Catching these nuances in your form will ensure that you activate the right muscle groups without compromising your safety.
To help you perfect the cable curl, here are some tips to help you hold the correct form:
The cable bicep curl is a bomb exercise for building the biceps. It is an effective exercise that can help you get bigger arms in no time. The cable bicep curl not only sculpts your biceps for bigger, more intimidating arms but also other major muscle groups of the upper body.
The cable bicep curl makes a wonderful addition to any arm or upper body workout routine. For the best results, complement the cable bicep curl with other bicep curl variations for monster-size biceps.