5 Ways Dumbbell Build Better Biceps
The biceps remain the most direct route to bigger muscle bellies, but dumbbells may be your best tools for sleeve-busting biceps.
Unilateral and Forced Reps:
When you train one limb at a time, muscles can produce up to 20 percent more force. This is likely because the target muscles in the lazy limb realize that they have to pick up the slack. You can use that to your advantage by mixing in some unilateral work with slightly heavier weight, then using the “free” hand to assist with a few more reps, forcing yourself beyond failure and demolish a few more fibers in the process.
A longer, more comfortable range of motion is always preferable when size is your objective. Dumbbells allow users to lift the weight in a pattern that agrees with their limb length and body type better than a barbell can. Also, a common complaint with barbell work is strain on the wrists. This is mitigated by the move to an EZ-Bar, but it can be practically eliminated with dumbbell work. Less strain equals more train.
Hitting the outer head of the biceps – the one most responsible for that coveted biceps peak – can be tricky, particularly if you are married to barbell work. This outer head can be emphasized when using dumbbells by moving the elbows slightly behind the body. Set a bench to a slight incline (one or two clicks from vertical to start), take a seat and perform your curls from this position, being careful to keep your upper arm perpendicular to the floor in order to keep the emphasis on that outer head.
Hammer curls emphasize certain important muscles. The brachialis lies underneath the biceps brachial and can add height to your biceps when trained appropriately. The brachioradialis crosses the elbow joint and can provide a great finish to your biceps, not to mention a killer set of forearms.
Still trying to get rid of that back-straining sway on your barbells curls? Cop a squat. Performing your curls while seated eliminates the ability to cheat your way through reps, instantly amplifying workout efficacy. You are also less reliant on the many stabilizer muscles that come into play when you are standing. Happily, you can reinvest those energies into your curls.