Strength coach and Athlean-X founder Jeff Cavaliere CSCS has been ranking the best and worst ways to improve the benefits of different muscle groups, including back and chest. In a new video, he introduces the biceps trainer, starting with exercises you should probably give up entirely, then moving on to better ones, and ending with the top moves that will help you get the most muscle hypertrophy.
Cavaliere starts with focused curls, which in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but mistakes are often made. Elbow positioning is everything here, and people often use other muscles to help with leverage, making it an inefficient biceps exercise, he explained. Likewise, he thinks the reverse curl is more of a brachialis exercise than a biceps exercise.
He also took issue with the bicep push-up, despite its name “never and never” being a biceps exercise because it’s still a push-up, so by definition it targets the chest, Triceps and shoulders.
The inverted chin curl actually does work the biceps, but it ranks lower here because as a bodyweight exercise, it’s hard to add progressive overload. Cavaliere also includes the Zottman curl in this category because the first part of the move recruits the biceps before going into pronation.
An alternative to the concentration curl here is the missionary curl, which is a staple of the arm workout. However, Cavaliere points out that just because you have a mat to support the movement doesn’t mean you should be cocky when loading more and more weight. He’s also a fan of cable curls, but they don’t rank any higher because there’s only real resistance at the absolute upper end of the range of motion, which means you’re not going to get gains on a rep-by-rep basis.
even better is
Another rope exercise that provides more efficiency is the rope bend curl, which involves a higher anchor point, thus introducing shoulder bends into the movement for a good peak contraction at the top of the rep.
When it comes to effectively hitting the long head muscles, Cavaliere says the resistance curl is unique: “When we move our elbows back to the back of the body…we get more stretch on the long head of our biceps. ,”He says. For short heads, he recommends the spider curl, which is a better choice than the missionary curl because of its greater range of motion and freedom of movement.
A bicep exercise that Cavaliere often refers to is the waiter curl, which involves holding a dumbbell vertically and placing the biceps in a straight line. “What we’ve got here is an exercise that’s intrinsically valid,” he said.
almost the best
For bodyweight exercises that can actually overload your biceps, Cavaliere recommends pull-ups.
When it comes to maximizing range of motion, the incline dumbbell curl is a good choice because it allows the arms to extend and back behind the body on the bench, reaching a passive stretch position on the lower end of the rep. It’s worth noting, though, that this can be difficult if you have shoulder, wrist, or elbow problems.
Another “almost the most popular” part of the movement that didn’t make it to the top is the classic: the barbell curl. “There’s a limit here,” Cavaliere said. “Fixed the bar. You don’t have the option to split your hands left or right, which means you can’t expose any underlying muscle imbalances.”
One exercise that eliminates the drawbacks of barbell curls is the alternating standing dumbbell curl, which allows you to identify imbalances and can be toggled with a variety of variations and grip changes. “The built-in versatility here is immeasurable,” Cavaliere said.
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