Last year, I posted two of my most popular articles:
1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Biceps
In an attempt to organize the million and one ways that you can train your biceps, I decided to organize all of these different lifts into different categories.
- Unilateral / Bilateral
- Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load
- Range of Motion
- Tempo or Speed
- Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
- Lifting Surface
- Training Volume
- Rest Periods
- Elbow Flexion
- Forearm Supination
- Shoulder Flexion (weak)
- Shoulder Transverse Flexion (weak)
Unilateral / Bilateral
- 1 Arm Curl / 2 Arm Curl
Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load
- Vertical Body Position – Standing / Kneeling / Sitting upright
- Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Incline Bench
- Arm Angle – Cross Body / forearms straight ahead / forearms flared out
- Position of Weight relative to body midline – ex. dumbbells v.s short barbell v.s olympic barbell
- Grip – Pronated (palms down), Supinated (palms up) or Neutral Grip (hammer grip)
- Medicine ball, sandbag, log, tire, rock, person or any other extreme implement
- Machines – Smith machine, Seated Bicep Curl machines
- Cable weight machines
- TRX / Blast Straps / Rings & Chains – curl your bodyweight
- Chin-up bar- curl your bodyweight
Range of Motion
- Full range of motion
- Partial range of motion – 1/2 curls, 1/4 curls
- 1 and 1/2 reps – lower the weight all the way down, come up half way, lower again and then lift all the way back up
Tempo or Speed
- There are a number of different systems for classifying lifting speed. For simplicity sake, I will stick with the basics: fast, moderate, slow & pause
- Different speeds of motion can be used for the different portions of the lift: descent, bottom, ascent, top
- You can mix and match the different speeds with the different portions of the lift depending on your training goals
- Most bicep devotees lower the bar fast, bounce the bar off their thighs, and then lift the weight as fast as possible.
- Personally, I prefer to lower my weights slowly, pause at the bottom to minimize the stretch shortening cycle, and then lift as fast as possible.
Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
- Your 1 Rep Max Lift is the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with good form.
- If you are lifting for strength, you will likely choose a load that is close to your 1 Rep max. A lower percentage load is used when you are performing high reps for muscular endurance or for low reps and high speed in an attempt to develop muscular speed.
- Caution – guys who are overly concerned with how much weight they can curl end up doing bicep curls that look like this….
This category is primarily employed by the Bosu or “functional training” crowd. Most lifters choose to keep their foot on solid ground as it allows them to generate maximum force. However, challenging you balance with various tools/techniques can have some carryover effect to the stabilizer muscles and overall athletic coordination. So, if you’re interested, here are some options:
- Balance disks or Wobble Boards
- a Bosu
- a foam roller or a split foam roller
- a stability ball – as if the Bosu wasn’t crazy enough
- Depending on your training goals (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, speed), you can choose a variety of reps per set, sets per exercise and total sets/reps per workout
- This category refers to the length of the rest periods taken between sets.
- Short rest periods are used as a tool to develop the trainees anaerobic energy system.
- Long rest periods are used to allow more complete muscular and/or nervous system recovery.
- And as with tempo and load percentage, there is an almost infinite number of positions in between.
Putting it all together…
If you mix and match all of the options that I have listed above, you can probably come up with more than a million and one different ways to train your biceps.
Just don’t try doing all of them in one workout.
And odds are that I have probably missed a bunch of different techniques, so feel free to comment and I will update the post.