Training Tips: How to do Barbell Bicep Curls
Barbell Bicep Curls seem like a simple exercise, but if you really want to start upping your weight while avoiding injury, you need to follow these key tips. If done correctly, you can reinforce core muscle development while building real strength in your favorite "show" muscles, the biceps.
One of the easiest way to improve your Barbell Bicep Curls is to perfect your starting position. Good form will allow you to increase your mass gains (just read rule #4 of The 5 Laws of Gaining Muscle Mass
to find out why). The graphic above points out some key aspects of the starting position.
Bracing your core requires that you stand as straight as possible with your shoulders back while flexing your abdominals, glutes, and quads at the same time. This will protect your back and reinforce good posture while allowing you to avoid "cheating" the rep by swaying the rest of your body to curl the bar.
Locked Arms at the Start of Each Rep
Full range of motion reinforces good form and allows you to work your entire bicep with each repetition. At the bottom of each rep of your Barbell Bicep Curls you should have your arms locked out (straight). Be careful not snap them into this position though; gently release into this position at the end of each rep.
Elbows Stay Glued to Your Sides
This goes in line with the "braced core" cue. Make sure you keep your elbows stationary at your sides as much as possible during the entire exercise. This will further isolate the biceps, enhance your range of motion, and avoid more "cheating" reps.
Grip Barbell Outside of Your Legs
Proper starting position is very important. If the barbell is on a rack, position the height so that it comes up to about halfway up your thighs. Walk up to the bar and stand against it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lock out your arms at your sides with your palms facing the bar. With your outside of your hands touching your thighs, grip the bar. You're now in position to lift the weight for your Barbell Bicep Curls.
Again, locking your knees is to reinforce core bracing and focus your effort on the curl; just make sure you don't keep them like this when you set down the weight.
These cues should reinforce full range of motion with each rep, focus attention on the muscles you're trying to work (the biceps), and improve your posture and core strength development.
If following these cues for your entire set is too difficult, it probably means that you're using too much weight. Lighten up and maintain form. You're building your muscle, not your ego.
Finally, be sure to follow the Sheer Strength Gym Etiquette Rule
concerning barbell curls. Don't be a gym jerk.