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Bicep Curls Aren’t Effective: Do This Instead and Boost Bicep Growth By 200% (Opinion)

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Did you know that bicep curls aren’t that effective to build biceps? That is the opinion of a fitness coach who, instead, teaches a technique that should boost bicep growth by 200%.

The coach in case is known online as Dr. Gains. His real name is Michael Kamalu, a medical student at Mayo Clinic who specialises in sports medicine, fitness, personal training and injury prevention. Currently, his YouTube channel has close to 150K subscribers where he posts tips on training programs, workouts and fitness science.

A video he uploaded reveals the single most crucial factor for isolating the biceps and promoting their growth. It introduces a principle that is rarely implemented correctly by others. Contrary to popular belief, standard supinating biceps curls are not the most effective way to build the biceps. By examining biomechanics and research studies on muscle activation, he claims it becomes clear that alternative techniques can increase biceps-specific activation and growth by over 200%.

Source: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

The first issue with traditional bicep curls is that while they involve elbow flexion, the biceps are not the primary muscles responsible for this movement. The Brachialis, a muscle located near the biceps, is actually more activated during elbow extension. Even when performing curls in a supinated position, EMG studies indicate that the Brachialis is almost 40% more engaged than the biceps. Additionally, the Brachioradialis also contributes to elbow flexion, further diminishing the load on the biceps.

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To address this issue, many people attempt to shift more load onto the biceps by adding supination to the curling movement. However, this approach has a flaw. When analysing the physics of supinating curls, it becomes evident that there is no resistance against supination itself. The dumbbell’s weight is balanced, with each side counteracting the other. Therefore, the true resistance is still primarily on elbow flexion, leaving the brachialis and brachioradialis to bear most of the load.

Forget Bicep Curls: Do This Instead and Boost Bicep Growth By 200%

So, how can resistance against supination be created to effectively isolate and load the biceps? Research teams at the University of Colorado and Canada have developed custom-made machines specifically designed for this purpose. Kamalu shares six different techniques they have developed using free weights and cables to generate direct resistance against supination. These techniques offer a practical alternative to building the biceps without requiring custom equipment.

  1. Shift your hand to one of the handles so that your thumb is pressed up against one side of the dumbbell, rotate dumbbells – least effective technique
  2.  Do the first technique and loop a resistance band around the pinkie side of the dumbbell, creating significant resistance against supination
  3. Grab one end of the dumbbell instead of the handle out of the pinkie side of your hand and swing the other end out and up by supinating your forearm
  4. Using an adjustable dumbbell, overload the pinkie side with more weight
  5. Using a cable machine and rope attachment, with a hammer grip, supinate your forearms while you flex your elbows and bring your pinkies up while rotating your wrists
  6. Unilateral cable version of number 5 – start with a hammer grip and supinate your forearm as you flex your elbow

As we know it is difficult to imagine how to apply these techniques by simply reading how to do it, here is the video with the techniques explained by Michale Kamalu himself.

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Having strong arms can offer many benefits, including:

  • Increased Functional Strength: Strong arms are essential for performing daily tasks like carrying groceries or lifting objects.
  • Better Sports Performance: Strong arms are crucial for sports such as basketball, football, and weightlifting.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Strong arms can help to prevent injury and strain to your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
  • Improved Posture: Strong arms can help to improve your posture and prevent back pain by supporting your upper body.
  • Increased Metabolism: Building muscle mass in your arms can boost your metabolism, helping you to burn calories more efficiently.
  • Improved Confidence: Having strong arms can give you a sense of confidence and self-assurance in your physical abilities.
  • Better Overall Fitness: Strong arms are an important component of overall fitness and can help you to achieve a well-rounded, healthy physique.

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The frequency of training your biceps and triceps depends on various factors, including your goals, overall training program, recovery capacity, and individual preferences. However, a general guideline for most individuals is to train these muscle groups 1-2 times per week.

When designing your training schedule, it’s important to consider the principle of muscle recovery. Both biceps and triceps are relatively smaller muscle groups compared to larger muscle groups like the chest or back. This means they typically require less volume and recovery time.

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If you’re following a split routine where you dedicate specific days to training different muscle groups, you could include a biceps and triceps workout as part of your arm day. This could be done once a week, allowing for adequate recovery time between sessions.

Alternatively, you might choose to incorporate biceps and triceps exercises into your upper body workouts on separate days. For example, you could train biceps on one day and triceps on another day during the week, with a few days of rest in between each session.

Source: Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

Remember, it’s essential to listen to your body and monitor your recovery. If you find that your biceps and triceps are not fully recovering between sessions or if you experience excessive muscle soreness, you may need to reduce the frequency or intensity of your training.

Ultimately, finding the optimal training frequency for your biceps and triceps will involve experimentation and adjusting based on your individual response to training. Consulting with a qualified fitness professional can also provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and goals.

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