Get the pump with this variation on a classic exercise.
The basic standing biceps curl with EZ-bar, barbell, or dumbbells are classic bodybuilding exercises because they’re great biceps builders. That said, the forward leaning biceps curl (with EZ-bar, barbell or dumbbells) is a fantastic variation on traditional standing biceps curls that will have your biceps feeling like they’re going to explode out of your arms.
Here’s how it’s done:
Instead of standing upright while doing curls, slightly bent your knees to roughly 15 degrees, and hinge your hips a bit as of you were doing a Good Morning so that your torso is leaning slightly forward at an angle with your back straight. The key is to keep and your arms by your sides, in line with your torso, just as you would when doing the traditional upright version.
Although the leaning biceps curls is a subtle variation on traditional standing biceps curls, the forward leaning torso angle while keeping your arms at your sides makes for a big change in the training stimulus your biceps receive. It’s all due to the fact that it creates a different point of maximal loading on the biceps.
You see, all exercises that involve free weights (and cables) have a point within the range of motion (ROM) where the exercise is hardest on the muscle(s) involved, and where the exercise is the easiest.
During a traditional style standing biceps curl with a barbell, EZ-bar, or dumbbells, the point at which your biceps is being maximally loaded (stimulated) is the point in the ROM in which your forearm is parallel with the floor, or perpendicular to the load vector (i.e., gravity) because that’s when the lever arm is at it’s longest. This is called the point of maximal loading (PML) because it’s the position within the range of motion that elicits the highest amount of muscle activation since you have the least mechanical advantage.
It’s therefore important to understand that the PML has nothing to do with the actual range of motion you’re going through in the biceps curl exercise, or any other free weight or cable exercise for that matter, but rather the force vectors involved within the range of motion.
When you perform the leaning biceps curl, you change the point of maximal loading on the biceps from their mid-range, which is what occurs when doing traditional style biceps curls, to a point of maximal loading to closer to their joint full-contracted shortened range. This is because, when properly performing the leaning biceps curl, your forearm is parallel with the floor at the top range of the biceps curl, which, as you we discussed above is the point at which the biceps curl exercise is most difficult because it’s where the lever arm becomes the longest, and therefore makes the biceps work the hardest.
Lets be clear, no one is saying that the leaning biceps curl is a better biceps builder than traditional style standing biceps curls. Nor am I recommending you replace regular style standing biceps curls with leaning biceps curls. I’m simply showing you a great biceps curl variation you can use, along with traditional biceps curls variations to, not only get an incredible pump, but also to hit your biceps from different angles and make your biceps workouts more comprehensive and effective.
Coach Nick Tumminello is the owner of Performance University International, which provides hybrid strength training & conditioning for athletes and professional educational programs for fitness professionals all over the world.
As an educator, Coach Nick has become known as the “Trainer of trainers” for his innovative, hybrid fitness training concepts and for his ability to provide simple, honest and immediately applicable solutions to common problems fitness professionals face.
Nick’s articles have appeared in over 30 major health & Fitness magazines and he’s a regular contributor to: Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Oxygen, Maximum Fitness, REPS, Muscle Mag, Status, Train Hard-Fight Easy, Fighters Only and FIGHT! Coach Nick is also a featured contributor to several popular fitness training websites including: LiveStrong.com, Bodybuilding.com, WannaBeBig.com and T-nation.com. He has been featured in two New York Times best selling exercise books, on the front page of Yahoo.com and Youtube.com, as well as in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual: Fourth edition. Nick also writes a very popular hybrid fitness training blog here at NickTumminello.com.