In recent years, direct arm training has declined in popularity with the rise of functional training. While you should still be focused on compound lifts and other functional training, you can still incorporate some direct arm training into your program.
We all love to have big guns, and the biceps are an important muscle group not only aesthetically, but for function as well. Elbow flexion is important for health and performance. So there is no need to neglect training your biceps directly, even if it just for aesthetics.
If you’re seeking new ways to grow the size and strength of your biceps, look no further.
Seated Hammer Curl
When curling with a hammer grip, which offers a neutral position, you are targeting the brachialis muscle more. This muscle is deeper below the biceps and enhances elbow flexion. In fact, t generates more power than the biceps. Give your biceps a boost by using hammer curls.
• Find a bench and start seated with dumbbells that are a comfortable yet challenging.
• Curl the weight up and back with control in a hammer (or neutral) grip.
• Maintain proper form and good posture throughout the set.
Kettlebell Towel Curl
Improve your grip while building your biceps. Having strong grip strength improves overall strength as well as shoulder health.
• Get a kettlebell and wrap a towel around the handle.
• While bent over, get a solid grip on the towel. Stand upright holding the towel firmly, then start to curl until failure in grip or biceps.
Wall Biceps Curl
Doing regular curls often gets your shoulders involved. This can be prevented by putting your elbows flat against a wall, forcing your biceps to do all of the work. This exercise removes the possibility of cheating through using shoulders or swinging the weight.
• Start by standing with your back against a wall holding dumbbells.
• Curl the dumbbells with your elbows stabilized with the wall
• Try to limit forward elbow movement when possible.
Banded Barbell Curl
Almost everything becomes more challenging when you add bands to the mix and curling with a barbell is no different. The bands add tension the higher the weight is lifted. This means more tension for the biceps.
• Place a band around the barbell with the other side of the band underneath your feet
• Ensure the band tension is even between your hands.
• Bend over and grip the barbell before starting the curls
• When your biceps start to fatigue towards the last reps, limit momentum.
This exercise truly isolates the biceps. It is a unilateral exercise, so its great for balancing potential arm imbalances.
• Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in one hand. Place the elbow of that arm toward your thigh of the same side the working arm is on.
• Start with your elbow fully extended. Curl the dumbbell up and lowered back to starting position using controlled motion.
Where to Add These Into Your Training
Option 1: Do 1-2 exercises after your main upper body workouts
• Add direct arm training to your current routine. Do 1 or 2 exercises for 2-4 sets with 8-15 reps after you’ve done your main training.
Option 2: Add Direct Arm Training to Your Current Program
• Choose 3 exercises, hitting each of the main arm muscle groups for each exercise (1 for biceps, 1 for triceps, and 1 for shoulders).
• Tri-set these exercises (think of a superset but with 3 exercises) with 8-15 reps per exercise. Do this 3-4 rounds added on to your regular workout.