Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: bicep curl.
Of all the weight lifting moves, the bicep curl has to be the best known. If you were to do a charade of “strength training”, you’d probably choose a curling motion. But what exactly is the point of bicep curls and how do you do them properly?
Bicep curls work the biceps – simple. It’s an isolated movement meaning that it concentrates on that one muscle rather than umpteen muscles at once, and that means that it’s a great exercise to add into a strength circuit or as part of an accessory set because it can work on a muscle that often misses the exclusive workout treatment.
What exactly is a bicep curl?
In fitness, we talk about the movement of muscles and joints in terms of abduction and adduction (moving away and toward the body), supination and pronation (facing upwards or downwards) or flexion and extension (bending and straightening). A bicep curl centres around the flexion and extension of the elbow joint – bending and straightening the elbow to move weights from thigh to collarbone.
It’s great because:
- It isolates the bicep muscle: We don’t get lots of opportunities to focus on that muscle alone without the back or legs kicking in, so this is a chance to see how strong your biceps really are.
- It’s simple: You don’t need heavy weights, room or a great deal of technical know-how to nail the move.
What muscles does the bicep curl work?
This is an isolated movement that targets the bicep group of muscles, including:
- Biceps brachii (front bicep)
- Biceps brachialis (side bicep)
- Biceps brachioradialis (runs into the forearm)
How to do a bicep curl
- Hold your dumbbells by your sides, arms straight, palms supinated (facing front).
- Keeping the elbows close to the sides of your body, bend the elbows to bring the weights up towards your collarbone.
- Slowly bring the weights back down by straightening the arms – making sure to maintain contact between your elbows and body the whole time.
- Go again.
The magic happens on the eccentric part of this exercise (when you straighten your arms to bring the weight back down), so go slow to reap the most benefits.
Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.