Odds are you’ll see someone in the gym doing curls at some point during your work out. Everyone wants big arms, and a big component in sculpting them is to do curls. Curls work the bicep of the arm. Depending how you do your curls however, you can emphasize more on one of the two muscles that make up the bicep. This is where the name bicep comes from, meaning two muscles are at play, the long head and the short head.
If doing curls, close grip with a bar-bell for instance, you’ll work more the long head or outside portion of the muscle. Oppositely, if you curl with a wider grip you’ll put more emphasis on the short head, often referred to as the peak of the muscle.
There are many variations of curls. There’s your basic, natural sway motion, pulling the weight up to the top position while squeezing the muscle getting a full contraction. There are also stricter versions that can be done, such as concentration curls and preacher curls where momentum is taken out of the equation. This isolates the biceps more, taking away other muscles that may be supporting the lift.
There is also what are often referred to as “cheat” curls. This variation is often done with a relatively heavy weight for the individual where momentum is involved. Despite the name cheat curl, there is definitely a place for it when training your biceps as it helps with that progressive overload in growing the muscle. Cheat curls are different in that most other progressive overload type of movements are performed more as an ego lift. Cheat curls, or even any type of curl done with partial repetitions, can certainly have a place in your workout routine. It’s not like someone loading up plate after plate in the squat rack only to do a quarter rep where full muscle recruitment isn’t used. Personally I’m a big advocate of full range of motion in all exercises for the most part. However, I feel your arms can benefit from partial reps and full range of motion reps even with the help of momentum.
In this video you’ll get an idea of how to perform a curl. But don’t forget that two thirds of the arm is made up of the triceps, so hit them as well. Now go do some curls for the girls. 😉