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Better Barbell Curls: Cheat to Win

Break form to make your biceps work harder.

By Sean Hyson C.S.C.S.
Better Barbell Curls: Cheat to Win

Sometimes bending the rules is the only way to get what you want. Barbell curls done strictly should be the go-to exercise for anyone seeking bigger arms, but there comes a time when doing them with textbook form won’t be enough to bring new growth. By using a little momentum and the right technique, you can actually make your biceps work harder while making the exercise safer.

The classic barbell curl puts you at a mechanical disadvantage. With the weight so far out in front of your body, you don’t have the leverage to lift very big loads. When you do train up to the point of curling heavy weights, you hit a sticking point halfway up, and you may start to feel pain where the biceps tendon connects to your shoulder. The solution is to use the power in your hips to get the bar moving. Done with control, you won’t take any tension off the biceps—which you would if you leaned back excessively, as most guys do. In fact, you’ll provide the mechanical advantage necessary to go heavier with less risk of strain, delivering a greater growth stimulus.

Hold the bar with hands shoulder- width apart and knees slightly bent. Your abs should be braced and your lower back flat.

 

 

1. Push your hips back so your torso bends forward a few degrees.

 

 

2. Powerfully extend your hips and begin the curl so the momentum helps you get the bar halfway up.

 

 

3. As the bar passes the sticking point, lean back a bit (with abs still braced and knees still bent).

 

 

4. Straighten your torso as you reach the top—the normal end position for a curl.

 

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