Even though the bicep is actually one of the smaller groups of muscles, it’s generally the most focused. A lot of lifters want to max out their biceps so that they have an impressive pair of arms that show just how hard they’ve been working on their strength training. This means that most of their routine is set to work their biceps and focuses on this a lot more than other, more important and larger, muscle groups.
It’s not as easy as just working them though, to get the most out of your work outs you need to understand exactly how the muscles perform and how you can reenact their performance while you’re in the gym.
The common, basic move and function that your bicep makes is a curl – curling your forearm in towards your upper arm and then back down again.
Curling isn’t a new technique amongst lifters and there are many variations that you can perform, all of them with the same outcome – a flex in the elbow and your arm curling up to your upper arm. Any exercise that uses any sort of elbow flexing will build these muscles, which means it’s even possible to build them through pull ups.
Curls, however, are not just about bending the elbow and curling it. They also involve something called supination. This is where the forearm is twisted to a point that the palm is actually facing upwards compared to the natural position of your palm facing inwards towards the body.
Involving forearm supination into your work outs actually works out more of the muscle groups in your arms – the brachiali, which is sat right below the bicep, is one of the ones that is activated just as much as the bicep is and offers you the best chance of gains.
The Supinating Dumbbell Curl
The best dumbbell curl that you can perform is the supinating dumbbell curl. This is actually pretty common in most workouts but many people don’t realise that it’s actually a very important move and should be one that is done in every workout.
Start by holding the dumbbells at your side with your grip facing inwards towards the body. Then, slowly curl up the weight and twist your forearm slightly until your palm is facing up to the ceiling. Finally, lower it back down the same path, returning your palms to their inwards positon once you’re at the bottom of the path.
There is no best position – you can either be sat down or stood up, and you can pick if you do both arms at the same time or if you alternate them. This is completely up to the lifter. They look simple, but they actually do a lot of good for your biceps.
- Keep your elbows and shoulders still. Don’t let them move as you curl up. A little movement is okay and normal, but make sure you’re staying in charge and they’re not moving too far forwards.
- Don’t push your elbows out to the side. If you find it’s happening against your control, try reducing your weights a little until it’s comfortable again. They need to stay by your sides.
- Keep your wrists in the neutral position, you want the focus to be on your forearms.
- Keep a straight back; your body will move a little bit and it’s normal, but try and stay in control.
- Shift your grip up a little towards the top of the handle rather than in the middle. This makes your biceps work harder.
To start with, you want to be working towards three sets with a rep of around five to seven per arm. You can increase this as you start building strength so that it still has an effect.