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5 Biggest Biceps Training Mistakes

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Make any of these five common biceps training blunders and you can expect to look like a joke rather than “The Oak”!

3. Dropping Your Elbows From Parallel

When doing high-pulley cable curls, it seems simple enough: Do a double biceps pose by bringing your fists toward the back of your ears. But it’s more complicated when you have a heavy weight pulling against each arm. The tendency here is to drop your arms as your elbows pull forward. Again, this turns an isolation exercise into an unwanted multijoint move. Keep your upper arms locked in a position parallel to the floor so that the only movement occurs at the elbow joints. This effectively makes the short (inner) head do the brunt of the work.

4. Ignoring Overhand and Neutral-Grip Moves

While grabbing a weight and curling it seems elementary for big biceps development, not all the major arm flexors are optimally worked when you use an underhand grip. In fact, when your hands are in the neutral (hammer) or overhand (reverse grip) positions, the brachialis that lies underneath the biceps and brachioradialis — the forearm muscle nearest the elbow — kick into gear. You won’t reach your genetic potential unless you include moves that target all the muscles in the biceps group. We suggest doing one of these exercises last in your biceps workout because it can adversely affect grip strength.

5. Always Using the Same Grip Width

Chances are the standing barbell or EZ-bar curl is the major mass-building movement in your routine, and rightly so. Because you can load up the bar and generate a bit of body english, you can move more weight than with any other biceps exercise. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add some variety to work the target muscles in slightly different ways from time to time. Changing your grip width on barbell curls affects the amount of rotation in your arms. When you use a wider than shoulder-width grip, your arms turn out at the shoulder joints — called external rotation — which hits the short (inner) head more strongly. When you grasp the bar with a narrower than shoulder-width grip, your arms instead turn in — known as internal rotation — and you’ll activate the outer (long) head to a greater degree.

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