You've done biceps curls before. But how much have you really owned them?
It's an underrated question when it comes to biceps, and when it comes to training in general actually. Anyone can do a biceps curl, but very often, your form falls by the wayside, especially late in a set. If you're chasing muscle, one key goal is to pile up time-under-tension, challenging the muscle you're targeting for the entire movement.
But there are myriad ways to cheat during biceps curls. And near the end of a set, you're often prone to fall into this cheating. That's where today's dumbbell biceps finisher from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., comes in. The set pushes you to move lighter weights but to move them with precision, and it challenges you to own two critical parts of the biceps curl. (continued below)
First, you'll curl all the way up, then, during this moment when your biceps is at its max contraction, squeeze your biceps. Then you'll spend time at another key moment in the curl, when your forearms are parallel to the ground. "It's in this position," says Samuel, "that the forearm lever faces its greatest challenge from gravity. Pausing in this position is a great way to challenge your biceps."
Adding in a dropset principle finishes off the vicious biceps torture. Once you've done the double-pause curls, you'll shift into curls that emphasise that forearms-parallel-to-the-ground position. And once you've exhausted your biceps doing that, you'll finish with an iso-hold. "It's a nasty combination," says Samuel, "and a great biceps pump." Here's how you pull it off.
Stand holding dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your abs and shoulder blades tight, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders, turning your palms to face your torso. Pause and squeeze your biceps.
Lower the dumbbells til your forearms are parallel to the ground. Pause and squeeze your biceps for a second. Then lower the dumbbells all the way. That's 1 rep.
Do as many reps this way as you can. When you can no longer do good-form reps, begin doing half-curls. Curl the dumbbells up until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Pause and squeeze your biceps, then lower.
When you can no longer do any more half reps, pause for two breaths. Then raise the dumbbells one more time until your forearms are parallel to the ground, and hold for at least 5 seconds.
That's 1 set; do 3 sets.
This simple biceps finisher can find its way into your workouts in a variety of ways. If you have time for just one arm exercise during any workout, make this your final exercise of that workout, adding a bit of biceps burn to that session. You can also use it as your lead exercise on a lightweight arm day. And if you need a quick pump on Friday night but don't have time for a full-on training session, sneak in a few sets of this exercise. Your biceps will love the feeling.
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