4 Exercises Better than the Barbell Curl
Think standing barbell curls are the best you can do to force your bi’s to grow? Here are four unique variations that make an outstanding biceps move an even greater one for adding size.
2. Barbell Curl With Chains
For some of you, the idea of using chains for any bodypart, let alone biceps, is a bit extreme. But frankly, to spark new growth, that’s exactly what you need to start thinking outside the box. For many a bodybuilder with phenomenal bodyparts, chains were a rare find. How could something so basic be so beneficial? Well, the physics of chains brings new meaning to curls. Here’s why: At the start of the standard curl, when your arms are hanging down, the brachialis (deep muscle underneath the biceps) and brachioradialis (large forearm muscle on the thumb side) do most of the work lifting the weight until the elbow angle reaches about 90 degrees. The biceps don’t do much of the lifting until just before this point and throughout the rest of the range of motion. When you load a bar with free weights, you’re limited to what the brachialis and brachioradialis can lift through the first half of the curl, which is often a lot less than what the biceps can lift from the halfway point and higher. (This is why you can curl more on seated barbell curls mentioned in item 1.)
When using chains, however, you start with a lighter weight that gradually gets heavier the higher you curl it (more links are lifted off the floor). This allows for maximal tension on the biceps when it counts for maximal growth. That way, the weight during the peak contraction and at the point when your biceps are the strongest is heavier than ever. As you lower the weight and the chains begin to lie on the floor again, the bar gets lighter as the major biceps muscles begin to disengage their involvement.
Finally, if your gym doesn’t have a set of chains in some dark corner, invest in some and keep them in your truck (also good for bench pressing). Get two 3/8″ chains and two 5/8″ chains. The 3/8″ chain is used to wrap on the end of the bar and hold the 5/8″ chain. Together one 3/8″ chain (5 pounds) plus one 5/8″ chain (20 pounds) weighs about 25 pounds. When you put the chains on the bar, be sure that the 5/8″ chains are completely on the floor in the bottom position of the exercise.