Blast Your Biceps With These Awesome Curl Variations for a Serious Pump
The typical bro workout, incorporates bicep curls to the max, chasing the pump. But ask someone what their ideal physique is, what “being in shape” means to them. When they think about being in great physical shape, more than likely they have this image in their heads of a well developed, balanced muscular build. Perhaps many aim for the look of Henry Cavill as Superman, or Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
The building up of the chest, back, and abs are all integral to the process of having a well formed upper body. But the whole picture wouldn’t be complete with some well defined arms. How do you get those arms? Variety in your training.
The arm is made of two different muscle groups, (sort of) the biceps and triceps. We can break those down more, but today we are focusing on the biceps and how to build them. People typically only think of the standard bicep curl, but there is so much more to it than that.
No matter what stage of the game you’re in, there’s no way that an avid gym goer wouldn’t want some mountainous biceps that have peaks more defined than Mount Everest to bring together the overall look.
If you’re looking to make some major headway in building up your arms, then keep reading. We are diving into some awesome variations for your biceps.
The biceps are made up of two muscles, hence the first two letters of the word, “bi.” The two muscles are the long head, and short head. The long head of the bicep is the part that makes up the “peak”. Some people naturally have shorter biceps than others. Muscle insertions are different on everyone. In order to fully develop your bicep for a full, developed look, you are going to need to hit both heads.
Don’t worry, we are providing you with some great variations for your regimen almost guaranteed to touch both heads and blow your biceps up.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
The first exercise on our list is an old one, but still holds up well to this day. The incline dumbbell curl is a great variation on your usual bicep curl. By utilizing just an incline bench and some dumbbells, you can blast your biceps.
Setting the bench to just above the 45 degree angle, you’ll ensure that you’ll give your arms full range of motion. While performing these be sure to supinate your wrists as you get to the top of the curl. By doing this, within just a few reps you’ll be guaranteed to get a great pump.
But remember, this exercise is an isolation exercise. This means it is all about form and if your technique is less than optimal, you can forget about reaping the benefits of this great exercise.
Utilize weight that you can hit 8-12 solid reps with, getting a good contraction throughout the whole movement and a nice squeeze at the top. Good form leads to holy gains.
One of the most dreaded bicep exercises ever. The 21s variation is a high rep alternative that is sure to get your biceps burning. The exercise requires a manageable amount of weight in order to complete the full 21 reps in one set. Too heavy and you won’t make it through the exercise. Too light and you won’t even feel anything.
The first part of the set starts with your arms fully extended with a barbell or EZ bar in your grips. Curl the bar right up to your stomach then lower it slowly for 7 reps.
From there, bring the bar up to chest level and curl up to your chin for 7 more reps.
Lastly, start from the bottom and curl up to your chin for a full range of motions for the remaining 7 reps.
Spider curls, a variation for the pointiest peaks. For this variation you just need an incline bench, and something to curl. You can utilize dumbbells, barbells, or cable attachments.
Where you would normally be in a seated position on the incline bench, the spider curl requires you to be lying face down while performing the motion.
Lie on the bench with your torso and stomach pressed against the backrest (The top of the bench should be at armpit length). Keep shoulders and upper arms locked in place, with the forearms being the only part of the arm moving through the bending of the elbows. Curl towards your shoulders, squeezing the biceps throughout the whole movement and hold the contraction at the top of the movement. Make sure to really focus on that squeeze. In a controlled manner, lower the weight back to your initial starting point.
This exercise is great for building up the short head muscles of the biceps and can add some great definition.
Standing Cable Curl
This exercise is a great finisher for your workout. The cable curl can be performed just like the standard barbell or dumbbell curl. However, it does allow for some variations that can be great for stimulating both the long and short head muscles of the biceps.
You can move your shoulders forward to attack the short head of the biceps. Then you can also lean backwards to work the long head of the biceps. You can choose to do your standard sets of 10-12 reps, but you can also spice it up. Don’t be afraid to work to failure to really shock the muscle.
3x Classic Physique Olympian, Chris Bumstead also has a great variation where he takes a straight bar attachment and stands back and does standing cable curls until failure. Then he moves in and does drag curls until failure. Just one example, but there is so much more you can do with the bicep curl.
Now that we have covered some great bicep curl variations, let’s address some questions you may have as a reader.
How Often Should I Hit Biceps?
Well, just like any other muscle group, you do not want to overtrain your biceps! However, you also do not want to train the biceps too little. It is recommended that biceps should be touched on just like every other muscle group, 2-3 times per week!
For more information on how much volume you really need, check out this video from Jeff Nippard:
How Many Exercises, Sets, and Reps Should I do for Biceps per Training Session?
Your goals really matter when it comes to how many exercises, sets, and reps you want to incorporate per training session. Do you want strength, size, or endurance? Overall higher volume and frequency is more for endurance, while lower volume/frequency is more for strength. The middle ground on volume and frequency would be for size.
But, envision what you want as far as results, and base the amount of exercises, sets, and reps you do for biceps on that!
Not everyone enjoys training arms, and many of them just go through the motions. Arnold Schwarzenegger said once that he sees people in the gym every day, and they just do not grow. It’s almost like a chore for them, and then they don’t see the same growth they do as in other muscle groups that they train harder.
Luckily, we are here to provide you some variety in your training so you don’t get stuck doing the same thing during your workouts. We want you to grow just as much as you do.
That being said, check out some more workouts, reviews, diets, and other articles on our site!
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Physiopedia (2022). “Biceps Brachii”. (Souce).
Physiopedia (2022). “Range of Motion”. (Souce).
Sweeny, H.L., et. al (2018). “Muscle Contraction”. (Souce).