Curl bars have angled handles that place less stress on your wrists and forearms while you’re performing curls, when compared with straight bars, which may allow you to handle more weight. Also, by reducing your risk of injuring your wrists and forearms, you can pump out full sets of curls more comfortably, allowing you to further strengthen your biceps. A standard EZ curl bar has a zigzag-shaped bar so your wrists are angled at about 45 degrees, relative to the floor, when you’re doing curls. The super curl bar is wavier -- picture a large capital S in the middle of the bar, with an extra curl on one end. This bar lets you do the equivalent of dumbbell hammer curls using a barbell.
Curls are the most common biceps-isolation exercises. You’ll find several variations, but in each case, you hold the barbell in front of you with your arms extended, then bend your elbows to bring the weight up toward your chest. Keep your elbows close to your body and your upper arms as still as possible. Exhale as you lift the weights, then inhale as you return, under control, to the starting position. Basic curling form doesn’t change whether you use a curl bar or a straight bar.
Any curl exercise you can perform with a straight barbell you can also do with a curl bar. The only difference is the grip. You’ll typically grip the super curl bar by placing your hands in the middle of the bar so your palms face each other. This grip places more emphasis on the brachioradialis muscle -- which extends from your upper to your lower arm -- than a straight-bar curl. You can also spread your hands wider and form an underhand grip on the outside curls of the S shape. Spreading your hands wider offers an angled grip similar to the EZ curl bar, which targets the main biceps muscles, the biceps brachii.
Standard curls are usually your best bet to target your biceps directly. Stand straight with the curl bar across your thighs and raise the bar to your upper chest. Target the brachialis -- which lies beneath the biceps, by doing preacher curls. Sit in front of a preacher bench, rest your elbows on the bench, then extend your arms downward to assume the starting position. Use an underhand grip at the side of the super curl bar’s S-shape or face your palms toward each other in the middle of the bar. Do reverse preacher curls with a wide, overhand grip. Do spider curls by leaning forward and resting the backs of your upper arms against the preacher bench and extending your arms so they’re roughly perpendicular with the floor.
Warm up before your biceps workout with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio exercise. Stretch your biceps dynamically by performing arm circles or wall stretches. If you do wall stretches, don’t hold the stretch. You can perform static stretches, in which you hold your position for about 30 seconds, after your biceps workout. Get your doctor’s clearance before you start any new exercise routine, particularly if you’ve been inactive or have any health concerns. Stop performing biceps exercises if you feel pain, particularly in the upper arm or elbow.
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