You grabbed your barbell and started curling to get bigger biceps. Did you know you could be doing something wrong? Here is a list of 8 common barbell curl mistakes and how to fix them.
We previously explained how to do the barbell curl and its benefits. The barbell curl is a must-have exercise for people looking to get stronger and increase their biceps size. However simple it might look to the exercise, there are a few common barbell curl mistakes you could be doing.
Dr. Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, made a video going through 8 barbell curl mistakes and how to fix them. Check it out.
Barbell Curl Mistakes
1. Range of Motion Too Low
It’s tempting not to do the full range of motion while doing barbell curls because you feel like you could lift more weight. However, restricting the range of motion does not provide tension under stretch or at peak contraction.
How to fix it: Start with arms fully extended and curl with no elbow movement.
2. Uncontrolled Descent
Using force on the concentric part of the exercise (lifting the barbell) is as important as having strength enough to descend the barbell (the eccentric portion of the lift). If you just drop the barbell during your curls, you will lose an important part of the exercise’s benefits.
How to fix it: pay attention and fight against gravity on the way down.
3. No Standard Range of Motion
Make sure you are doing reps exactly with the same form and technique so that you can actively know if the exercise is too easy, or too difficult for you. It also helps to know when you should be increasing or decreasing the weight on the barbell.
How to fix it: pay attention to your reps and put less weight if you had a failed rep at some sets.
4. Body Lean and Shoulder Position
You can lean in whatever position you feel more comfortable with. Just don’t mix body position and shoulder position from one set to the other, or one rep to the other, and count them the same way.
5. Swinging and Cheating
Probably the most common of barbell curl mistakes. Using swinging and momentum to be able to lift the weight will not activate your biceps more which is the main reason you are doing barbell curls in the first place.
Cheat reps are also stupid, Dr. Mike says.
How to fix it: use only your biceps and shoulder to lift the barbell without hip or back movement. You probably are putting too much weight on the barbell.
6. Extreme Strictness
Being too rigid can also be detrimental. When you are doing barbell curls, you need to lean back a little because your centre of gravity changes and you need to compensate.
How to fix it: make sure it is realistic strictness and not something that violates the laws of physics.
7. Grip Confusion, Can’t Feel Muscle
There is no right or wrong grip width to feel the biceps more. It changes from one person to the other. Experiment and see what is better for you.
8. Going Too Heavy or Too Light
This is difficult to measure because some people do sets with fewer reps (sometimes as low as 5) while others choose to increase their rep range up to 30.
How to fix it: try and experiment with the rep range you want and be honest with yourself.
Do you want more bicep content? Check out the links below:
Workout to Fix Skinny Arms (9 Exercises Included)
10 Best Exercises for Wider Biceps
16 Fund Bicep Curl Workouts for All Athletes
- Barbell curl: Dollar Gill on Unsplash
- Barbell curl (2): Total Shape / Unsplash