We’ve all done it. A plain, boring, run-of-the-mill bicep curl in the gym. In front of the mirror. Sure, you can change it a little by doing “hammer curls” (palms facing inward), or use the preacher curl bench with the bar…but what about making those curls a little more functional? Why not work a different part of your body, increase your heart rate, and recruit more muscle fiber as you curl? Here are 8 of our favorite ways to spice up those bicep curls:
When performed correctly, alternating between the left and right arm can challenge the core as you maintain balance and isolation through the rest of the body. Be sure to limit the swinging motion and control every movement up and down.
Start with weights at your side. Perform a single leg deadlift and hold the movement at the bottom of the lift and perform your bicep curl. This move challenges balance and the posterior chain (backside of the body). Be sure to keep the hip facing the ground and the spine straight as you perform and hold the deadlift. Want additional leg burn? Hold the deadlift position for more than one curl.
Hold the weights to your side on the floor as you lay in a supine position (on your back) with knees bent and feet on the floor. Perform a sit up and curl simultaneously. Be sure to control the arm extension back down to the ground to prevent the weights from slamming on the floor and causing stress to the elbow or arms.
Find the bottom of your squat where you are in an active hold (this means don’t “rest” at the very bottom of your squat past the hip crease). Place elbows on the quads just above the knees for stability and perform your bicep curl. Hold squat for 5, or 10, or 15 reps. Be sure to keep the back straight with chest out and shoulder blades pulled down and back. And keep that belly button pulled, engaging the core. This one is going to burn!
Prepare by placing feet in a split squat stance, or stationary lunge. This one is good for balance, cardio (as arms and legs are all moving at once), and coordination. As you bend the knees to perform the squat, bend the elbows to perform the curl. Be sure to leave the back heel off the ground in order to maintain balance and prevent strain on the ankle joint.
More balance work! If you don’t use it, you lose it. Balance work is important and you might as get some in as you’re performing your curls. Lift one foot off the ground, bringing knee up and making quad as close to parallel with the ground as possible. Once you are in position, hold and perform your curl. Be sure to engage the core and activate the standing glute in order to secure your lumbo-pelvic hip complex. This will make balancing a lot easier. Note: you can’t activate those leg muscles properly if your standing knee is locked. So don’t lock it!
We love using the BOSU ball to proprioceptively enhance the workout environment. That big word just means that we add stimuli in order to make the movement more challenging and closer to something you may encounter in day-to-day activity. Again, be sure to keep the knees relaxed (not locked back and hyperextended) in order to make balance easier and the activity safer. If you’re looking for a more advance move, add a squat with a curl to your BOSU ball work!
Wall sits are a great way to build muscular endurance in your lower body. Why not throw in some bicep curls to continue to keep that heart rate elevated and add upper body work? Combining these two exercises is a one of our favorites and super simple…but it might not be easy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our examples of how to make those bicep curls a little more interesting and your time in the gym more productive. Share with us your favorite ways to spice up your bicep curls!