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Pump Quiz: Curling Iron

Reverse-Curls

Think you know what’s a good biceps move and what’s a bust? Test your arm IQ with this month’s pump quiz.

By Bill Geiger, MA

1) Which of the exercises listed here is your best choice to start your biceps workout with?

A) CONCENTRATION CURL
B) MACHINE PREACHER CURL
C) REVERSE EZ-BAR CURL
D) STANDING BARBELL CURL

2) Which of the exercises listed here is the worst choice to start your biceps workout with?

Concentration-CurlsLEAD

A) CONCENTRATION CURL
B) MACHINE PREACHER CURL
C) REVERSE EZ-BAR CURL
D) STANDING BARBELL CURL

3) Which exercise best targets the long (outer) head of the biceps, which forms the peak when you flex your arm?

Incline-Curls

A) WIDE-GRIP BARBELL CURL
B) INCLINE DUMBBELL CURL
C) EZ-BAR PREACHER CURL
D) REVERSE EZ-BAR CURL

Answers

1) Under most circumstances you want to start your routine with exercises that allow you to use the most weight. The first consideration is whether a move is multijoint; being a fairly small muscle group, nearly all the moves targeting the bi’s are single joint, so that doesn’t apply. Standing moves are better than seated ones because you can generate a bit of body english to move more weight for more reps. That knocks A out. The preacher curl targets the short head and it’s an isolation move (your body is braced against a bench), so you’re not going to be able to go heavy. Reverse curls focus on the brachialis and brachioradialis and less on the biceps, so answer D is correct.

2) An exercise you can’t typically use much weight with is never a good choice to start your arm workout, so clearly concentration curls fall into this category. An even worse choice, however, are moves that compromise your grip strength right off the bat. Reverse curls (and to a lesser degree hammer curls), which emphasize the forearms, can affect your ability to hold on to the bar for every exercise you do afterward. Hence, do them at the end of your arm workout. Answer C is correct.

3) Wide-grip barbell curls and preacher curls emphasize the short (inner) head, and we just told you that reverse curls target the brachialis and brachioradialis, so the correct answer is B. With the incline bench, the long head is put under greater stretch with your arms behind the plane of your body, meaning they’re capable of contracting more strongly (answer B). Just make sure you keep your elbows back while curling —don’t pull them forward in an effort to bring the weights higher.

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