When it comes to training the biceps, there are few more useful items than the barbell. While we often reach for the dumbbells when looking to grow our guns, the barbell actually forces us to isolate more while at the same time giving us a surprising number of interesting variations to work with. And speaking of variations, here we’re going to look at seven that you can add to your own routines to keep things interesting and to ensure that no single part of your bicep goes untrained.
The wide grip barbell curl involves keeping your wrists directly in front of your shoulders as opposed to letting them creep in towards the middle as you normally might. This immediately makes the movement more isolated and helps you to train the inside of your biceps more – the side which all too often goes untrained. Move out further to move the benefit further towards the inside of the arm.
The close grip curl is one hand’s width closer to the center than normal on each side. This of course works the opposite part of the bicep to the wide grip, focussing now on the outside of the arm instead of the inside.
Wrist Back and Forward
Moving your wrists can instantly mix up your training and create a more inventive exercise that works a subtly different part of the bicep. Curl your wrists back slightly and you’ll now be training the biceps much harder. Curl them forward and you’ll involve the forearms more. Both are useful but do make sure that you aren’t putting strain on your wrists if you have any joint complaints.
Forward Range Negative
A negative means that you lower the weight slowly. Here you’re going to do that but while also pushing your arms out further forward. Now you’re raising the weight from a different starting point and increasing your range of motion while mixing up the directly that the force is pulling.
A half rep is simple – you only perform half the range of motion. Note that it is important that you ensure to train the full range of motion, all we’re doing is breaking it up into parts. So if you do a set of lower half reps, you need to follow it up with a set of reps for the upper half.
Cheat reps are reps where you swing your body to provide momentum to help you through the movement. But wait, aren’t we always told to use good form when training? Well yes… but we’re still going to. The point is that cheats do not replace reps performed with good form – instead, you use them at the end of a set to help push past failure or you use them to get to the top of the movement ready to perform the last item on this list.
Negative Tension Sets
These are real negatives. Here you are simply lowering the weight more slowly than you are raising it. This is a fantastic intensity technique and works because a) we are stronger in the negative portion of any move and b) we can go way past failure as we only need a little strength left to slow down the force of gravity.