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.
4. Wide-Grip & Close-Grip Curls
Though this appears to be a standard barbell curl, appearances are indeed deceiving. That’s because the grip is wider (or alternately, closer) on the bar than you’d normally take, which is usually just outside hip width and with your arms at your sides. But when you shift your hands outward or inward, the change in emphasis between the short and long heads is dramatic, as will be your response.
Taking a wide grip on the barbell increases the tension on the short (inner) head of the biceps by reducing the amount of stress on the long (outer) head. That’s important because the short inner head is the muscle most prominent in the mirror during a biceps pose. The inner head helps develop density and adds depth to the biceps and even helps the appearance of the long head. Speaking of the long head, the close-grip curl places greater emphasis on the long (outer) head. The long head is actually the muscle that’s often referred to as the “peak” of the biceps. This muscle is best targeted during moves that draw your arm behind your body as when doing dumbbell curls on an incline bench. A close-grip curl puts added pull and emphasis on that long head to help build up the peak. But regardless of grip width, for either of them to do what they’re intended to, you must keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible. By doing so, the target muscle is optimally stimulated and forced to perform.
4 Weeks to Bigger Arms
Add these four variations into your routine doing one each for a week to complement the traditional barbell curl by adding size and detail to your biceps. The number of minutes that follows each exercise, set and rep range in the chart indicates the recommended amount of rest between sets.
Week 1: Take a Seat
Seated Barbell Curl 4 sets 6–8 reps 2 mins
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 sets 8–10 reps 1–2 mins
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl 4 sets 10–12 reps 1–2 mins
Reverse Curl 3 sets 15 reps 1–2 mins
Week 2: Chained to Growth
Barbell Curl with Chains 4 sets 10 reps 2–3 mins
Alternating Dumbbell Curl 4 sets 10 reps 1–2 mins
Standing Cable Curl 4 sets 12–15 reps 1–2 mins
Hammer Curl 3 sets 12–15 reps 1–2 mins
Week 3: It’s a Drag
Smith-Machine Drag Curl 4 sets 8–10 reps 2–3 mins
High Cable Curl 4 sets 10–12 reps 1–2 mins
Dumbbell Preacher Curl 4 sets 12–15 reps 1–2 mins
Barbell Wrist Curl 3 sets 12–15 reps 1–2 mins
Week 4: Narrow & Wide
Narrow-/Wide-Grip Curl 4 (2 each) sets 6–8 reps 2–3 mins
Seated Dumbbell Curl 4 sets 8–10 reps 1–2 mins
Lying Cable Curl 4 sets 10–12 reps 1–2 mins
Reverse Cable Preacher Curl 3 sets 12–15 reps 1–2 mins