Curated By Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
Very often, when you train arms, you find yourself doing high-rep sets of standing biceps curls and hammer curls, repeating the same basic motions over and over. And yes, these basics are key fundamentals in building stronger, more defined arms.
But your biceps are also capable of more. And if we challenge them from new angles and with new exercises, we can often stimulate more growth and faster results. You’ll always want to keep the basics in your routine, and you should aim to do a standing biceps curl or hammer curl at least once a week. Then mix in these curl variations, which push your biceps in new ways.
1. REVERSE ZOTTMAN CURL
The reverse Zottman is one of my favorite curls. You’ll start by doing a hammer curl, curling up with your palms facing each other. (This is your strongest curl, so you’ll be able to move a heavy weight.)
At the top, turn your palms so they face your chest, then slowly lower the dumbbells. (Think “3 seconds down”.)
You’ll be “overloading” this lowering phase of the curl, and consistently doing this can spark serious growth.
Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2. TWO-STEP CURL
It’s easy to cheat during standard biceps curls, rocking at the hips, or jerking our elbows forward. The two-step curl solves that.
You’ll hold dumbbells at your sides, as if doing a classic curl, but you’ll only curl up until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Pause for a count here, then curl all the way up.
We’ve added time-under-tension to each rep, which can help with growth, and by adding that mid-rep pause, we also force you to be strict.
Aim for 3 sets of 8-10.
3. SPIDER WAITER’S CURL
In addition to flexing your elbow, your biceps also twists your forearm, helping you drive your pinkies toward the ceiling as you do a curl.
You’ll train this second effect with the spider waiter’s curl, starting with your chest on an incline bench, and gripping a single dumbbell by the plate.
The plate will try to push your pinkies downward; focus no driving them up.
Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
4. HALF-ISO CURL
This is a great way to get more out of a light weight. Curl dumbbells up until your forearms are parallel to the ground. This is actually your starting position.
Now lower one dumbbell and curl it all the way up, while holding your position with the other hand. Repeat on the other side.
This won’t just light up your biceps either; your core muscles will also get a challenge.
Do this one for time, not reps; think 3 40-second sets.
Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes.
His current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga.
Ebenezer has had multiple prestigious positions including serving as a sports and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.