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Bicep curls the simplest yet effective exercise

Updated on September 2, 2011

arnold schwarzenegger

One of the greatest bodybuilders
One of the greatest bodybuilders

Bicep curls a simple but effective workout

   One of the easiest exercises for the arms are the bicep curls. It was of the most effective exercises those looking to add some size to there arms or to tone up. There are different sets and rep schemes to do depending on what you want to achieve. Arnold always loved the pump he got as he mentioned in the documentary/drama "Pumping Iron". It is a great feel you can get. Now there are different variations for the bicep curls as well and will be defined in this article. Its good to change it up so you hit different parts of the biceps.

The standard curl

This is the simplest bicep exercise curl you can do either with dumbbells or a barbell. Make sure to use the proper weight. For someone wanting to bulk up choose a weight you can do 8-12 reps for 3 sets. Now for someone wanting to tone their arms choose 15-20 or a little more. Once you find the proper weight the next most important thing is "FORM". A lot of people in gyms that you might see will be raising a dumbbell and throwing the weight up with there back and not staying straight. You do NOT want to do this. This will yield no good gains for the biceps if you are using your back to throw the weight up instead. Now, pick up the dumbbell from your side and raise it and twist the forearm up until the bicep contracts and bring it down the "WHOLE" way down. You want to make sure it comes down the whole way on the negative because if you don't you are only working part of the bicep. Make sure to also bring the weight down slowly so you are working the muscle and not just dropping the weight. Just not to slowly where your barely moving. Do about 3-4 sets for bulking and 6-8 sets for toning.

bicep curl basic
bicep curl basic

The hammer curl

   The hammer curl exercise is similar to the standard bicep curl however when you raise the dumbbell do not twist the forearm when its facing you. Simply lift the weight up on the positive and negative as if you had an actual hammer. This is the easiest way to remember (hence the name hammer curl). This works the other head of the bicep. Normally, a lot of people can do more weight with this exercise because the forearms are also getting work. That's right you are working part of the bicep and the upper part of the forearm. So those of you looking to get some "Popeye" forearms these can help.

   Hammer curls are a great exercise, but can only be done with dumbbells because a barbell uses two hands of course. This is basically the alternate way of doing the normal bicep curl but changing it up. Its good to change up your workouts to shock the muscle and from prevent plateaus.

Barbell and preacher curls

   To add more variety use the barbell curls or preacher curls for isolation of the biceps. The barbell curl is similar to the dumbbell curl except you are using two hands to lift it up. There are 2 different types of bars to use for this exercise, the ez bar curl and straight bar. Many like to use the ez curl because it has a twist in it making it easier on the wrist without hurting them to much. The straight bar is okay as well its all personal preference. Now with the barbell curl you should be doing more weight since you are using both biceps to lift the weight. For example, if you curl with 40 lb dumbbells you might use 60 lb barbell. When you lift the weight have your hands about shoulder with apart  or closer depending on what you are comfortable with. Once you contract the bicep on the way up bring it down slowly on the negative. Remember form is important here too no swinging the weight.

   Now the preacher curl bicep curl is to isolate the biceps making sure it is being worked and no cheating is being done. These will be at most gyms or you can buy them for home workouts. You basically use a dumbbell,barbell, or ez curl and rest your arms on a platform that is at an angle. You are sitting when doing this and have your arms rested down which cuts out any cheating that may have been involved when you do standing bicep curls.

preacher curl
preacher curl

Just remember

These exercises are good but proper nutrition and sleep are significant too. Make sure to be getting good protein and getting at least 8 hrs of sleep a day. Eating such things as steak, fish, chicken, milk, protein shakes, and other important food groups. Try to avoid junk food as much as possible.(such as potato chips and Doritos) Without these you will not get stronger,bigger or more tone.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Gosh, I wish I would have had that inoormatifn earlier!

    • FreeFly07 profile image

      Craig Wilson 

      6 years ago from Sibiu, Romania

      Great info and tips! The biceps exercise that I love the most is definitely the hammer curl!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for a great article. i run a lot and struggle to do weights etc. Your description of how to do the Standard Curl is very useful thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good information and must for the beginners.

    • David 470 profile imageAUTHOR

      David 470 

      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Thanks for your comment GmaGoldie glad you liked it

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      5 star Hub!

      My doctor and my PT both advised against building my biceps while having a frozen shoulder - I didn't listen - I had lost too much muscle tone. My shoulders have improved - not healed but having the strength back in my biceps and seeing muscle again is very rewarding.

      Target toning is so important. Your ending is excellent! Keep up the great work! You are right on tareget and motivating too!

      Excellent Hub!


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