Get More From Dumbbell Curls

Check out this article from Men's Health about how to make the most tried and tested arm exercise take your guns to new heights.

How to do it

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. Ensure your elbows are close to your torso and your palms facing forward. Keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale as you curl the weights up to shoulder level while contracting your biceps.
Use a thumb-less grip, advises sports scientist Ross Edgley ( “Placing your thumb on the same side of the bar as your fingers increases peak contraction in the biceps at the top point of the movement,” he says. Hold the weight at shoulder height for a brief pause, then inhale as you slowly lower back to the start position.

When to do it

At the end of a workout to specifically target the biceps after you have worked them through several compound ‘pulling’ exercises (such as close-grip chin-ups). Or superset them with tricep dips to work your entire arm musculature

Sets, reps and rest

Beginner 2 sets of 12 reps. Suggested load: 70-75% of your one repetition max. 90 seconds rest between sets.
Intermediate 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Suggested load: 75-80% of your one repetition max. 90 seconds rest between sets.
Advanced 4 sets of 8-10 reps. Suggested load: 75-80% of your one repetitiom max. 60 seconds rest between sets.

Emphasise your... outer bicep

Muscles targeted Biceps brachii, brachioradialis
Form tweak Hammer curls. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing your torso. “This targets both the outer biceps and the muscles in your forearms used to flex it at the elbow,” says Edgley.

Emphasise your... shoulders and biceps

Muscles targeted Anterior deltoid, biceps brachii
Form tweak Lying dumbbell curls. Simply perform your dumbbell curls lying down on a flat bench, face up. “This will work your biceps brachii in a position they are unfamiliar with, while also taxing your front deltoids,” says Edgley.

Emphasise your... forearms and biceps

Muscle targeted Pronator teres and brachialis
Form tweak Zottman curls. Perform a regular curl. Then, at the top of the movement, rotate the weights until your palms are facing forwards. Now slowly lower the dumbbells toward your thighs, stopping just short of fully extending your arms. Pause. Then turn your palms back to the starting position. And repeat. “The rotation in the Zottman curl will train both the muscles of the biceps and of the forearms,” says Edgley.

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