The simplest exercises, like the biceps curl, are often the easiest to screw up. You won’t necessarily be putting yourself at a high risk of injury, like if you have sloppy form while performing a heavy compound lift —but you are at risk of wasting potential muscle and strength gains.
You can fix this by setting yourself up for success with movements that reinforce ideal form. Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. uses exercises like the kneeling hold biceps curl to stay consistent and correct.
“This one’s all about patterning proper biceps curling technique so you can get the most out of the curl,” says Samuel. “Your biceps is responsible for two actions (not just one). It flexes your forearm, the guts of any curl and the thing we all get right when we curl. It also supinates the forearm, essentially rotating your forearm so your pinky first face upwards and then faces outwards.”
But the other part of the movement is just as important. “This second act is the underrated key to a good biceps curl and it’s the thing you’ll see most people mess up,” Samuel says. “You need to get both heads of the dumbbell parallel to the ground halfway through the curl to really attack your biceps to their fullest on a curl. But often, you’ll watch people never hit that parallel to the ground point at all during their curl—or they’ll hit it so late that momentum and body swing make the action happen instead of the biceps.”
The key to fixing this, according to Samuel, comes from the kneeling hold setup.
“By owning that parallel-position hold for 10 seconds and being mindful of your palm position, you automatically pattern a curl that’ll attack both functions of the biceps,” he says. “Your initial few reps after that hold will almost naturally be perfect.”
To take on the kneeling hold biceps curl, all you need is a set of dumbbells. Check out this option from Bowflex is you need a solid pair for your home gym.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Get in a tall kneeling position, holding a dumbbell in one hand.
- Curl the weight up about halfway, turning the dumbbell so that your forearm is parallel with the ground.
- Hold the dumbbell in position for 10 seconds.
- After finishing the hold, immediately perform 8 to 10 biceps curl reps.
You’re not just working your arms, either. “Thanks to the tall kneeling position and the unilateral nature of the curl, you’ll attack your core too,” Samuel says. “Try to keep your hips square and your shoulders level as you’re curling to really activate your abs, obliques and glutes.”
Add the kneeling pause curl to the start of your arm day with 3 sets per arm, without any breaks in between. Since you’re working unilaterally, there’s a ton of organic rest for each arm between sets.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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