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5 Dumbest Dumbbell Bicep Curl Mistakes Sabotaging Your Bicep Growth!

STOP DOING THESE!

Posted by Scott_Herman - April 27th, 2017

The dumbbell bicep curl is an excellent exercise you can utilize if you really want to work on some serious arm growth and get those huge biceps! What makes this exercise amazing is that, if properly performed, you will be effectively targeting both the short and long head of the biceps! So, I joined forces with Colossus Fitness in order to share with you the 5 dumbest mistakes when performing the dumbbell bicep curl!


But before we dive into the dumbbell bicep curl, if you missed the last article of the Common Training Mistake series, here is the link! In that article I was discussing the 6 most common mistakes you can make when performing the Overhead Press!


I believe it’s very important to demonstrate what proper form looks like first, and then go over the most common mistakes involving that form. Also, lately I’ve been doing a lot of “cheat” reps for my biceps and I want to clarify exactly what these are and how they can be performed safely and efficiently.


Dumbbell Bicep Curl – Proper Form

The starting position is very important. Start with your palms facing forward (supinated forearms). One of the functions of the bicep is to supinate the forearm so it’s crucial that your arms are supinated throughout the entire range of motion. Once in place, keep your elbows in front of your hips and curl all the way to the top but make sure your elbows stay in that fixed position. Squeeze your biceps as hard as you can, getting a tight contraction, and then slowly control the negative on the way down. That is what perfect form looks like.



Cheat Reps – An Advanced Bodybuilding Tool

One tool you can use to overload your muscles is called cheat reps. During a cheat rep, you skip the concentric (positive) portion of the rep, to focus entirely on the heavy negative (eccentric), in order to support more growth.


What this means in practice, is that I grab heavier dumbbells than usual, and instead of being super strict on the way up, I use a bit of momentum to get the dumbbell to the top position. But once I get to the top, I control the dumbbell on the way down because we know that the majority of muscle damage occurs on the negative portion of the lift.


This is an advanced bodybuilding tool and I wouldn’t suggest something like this for beginners. Beginners should be focusing on the proper form demonstrated above so as to avoid injuries and maximize their results!


And now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump right into the 5 most common mistakes involving the dumbbell bicep curl!


MISTAKE #1 – Skipping Half Of The Movement

The first mistake has a lot to do with people confusing and merging two different exercises, the bicep curl and the hammer curl. What you need to understand is that the hammer curl is an extraordinary exercise to add to your arsenal, but it mainly activates the brachialis and the brachioradialis, not the biceps. So if your goal is to build bigger biceps, a neutral forearm position (palms facing each other) is not the way to maximize your results.



A lot of lifters start with their arms neutral and then they twist the dumbbells out halfway to the top, effectively mixing the two exercises together. The reason why this is bad, is because you are skipping the hardest part of the range of motion, which is the first half. Of course, you will notice that it’s much easier to hammer curl the weight up and then twist at the top, rather than to perform the entire movement with your arms supinated.


So there is a time and place for the hammer curl but it’s not when trying to build your biceps.


You might have heard that since one of the functions of the biceps is to supinate (twist) your forearm, it’s better to do it this way as opposed to doing a strict bicep curl from top to bottom. That’s partially correct but it’s not what you think. If you want to focus on twisting the dumbbell to get more bicep activation, you can do just that but only do it when you get to the top.


So if you are going to twist, don’t twist halfway up and then curl. Come all the way up and THEN twist your wrist in, at the top, to get that maximum short head contraction!



MISTAKE #2 – Not Earning Your Reps

The second most common mistake people make is not earning their reps. What I mean by that is using momentum and swinging motions to get the dumbbells up and not concentrating on the negative. This way, they burn through the set, which is just a waste of time and effort.


What you want to do is utilize mind-muscle connection and REALLY work the muscle you’re targeting. So, to do that, you have to come up, really flex your biceps forcing as much blood as possible into the area, and then control the negative. Make sure every rep is being earned and you are not doing a couple right and a couple wrong reps. Every rep counts and every rep should be aimed towards maximum muscle breakdown.


MISTAKE #3 – Not Keeping Your Core Tight During The Lift

Next up is having a deflated core while you are doing the lift, or leaning back too far once the weight starts to get a little too heavy.


Whenever you do any exercise in the gym, the stronger your core is, the more power you will be able to exert. So if you are doing heavy dumbbell curls, the weight is obviously going to pull you forward, especially if you use proper form and keep your elbows in front of your hips. Now, if you are not taking in a breath and keeping that core tight, your core is bound to deflate and collapse, and you are going to lose a lot of power that you should be focusing on just doing the curl.


So, it’s very important to make sure you are resetting your breath whenever you need to, and you are keeping that core as solid as possible as you do your curls.

There is also the possibility that you are keeping your core semi-solid but you are also leaning back too far and again, that has to do with lifting too much weight. 


Even when performing “cheat” reps, your torso should still remain upright as much as possible. If you start really leaning back and using your lower back and whole body to curl the weight up, you are taking almost all the tension out of your bicep and transferring it directly onto your lower back, which can obviously cause an injury due to the massive spinal extension you are creating. This is not something you want to do.



So, whenever you are doing a dumbbell curl, if you want to get the most amount of power to lift the most amount of weight, here’s what you do. Take in a breath, keep your core tight, and then perform your curls until you run out of air. Then it’s time to reset, take in a new breath, and continue with your set. It’s all about core control.


MISTAKE #4 – Hooking Instead Of Curling

The fourth mistake is something I see very often in the gym and it has to do with not being able to keep your elbows fixed in one spot throughout the movement. What I see, is essentially no elbow flexion and extension which is obviously compensated by almost uppercutting/boxing the air using the front delt to do the work.



This gives the illusion of the dumbbell moving, and although yes, it is moving, the bicep is doing none of the work. In order for your bicep to work, your elbow needs to straighten completely, getting a nice stretch, and then flex completely, getting a tight contraction. So once more, get the dumbbells in front of your hips, keep your elbows tight to your body, curl the weight up getting a good contraction at the top, and then lower in a controlled fashion.



MISTAKE #5 - Not Keeping Tension In Your Wrists / Hands

The fifth and final mistake is not keeping tension in your wrist and your hand throughout the movement, especially at the top and on the negative portion of the lift. Instead of relaxing your hand, and just dropping the dumbbell without any control, try squeezing the dumbbell as hard as you can when you reach the top position and instead of keeping your wrist straight, try turning it in ever so slightly, towards your body.


You are going to notice that when you start to descend, there’s a lot more activation throughout your bicep, especially the bottom half and it doesn’t require a lot of weight to feel that difference. Next time you are at the gym, grab a 15 – 20 lbs dumbbell, get to the top, and practice turning your wrist in towards you and controlling the negative and you will start to see exactly I mean by “more activation”!


Conclusion

Hopefully, this can really help you perform the dumbbell bicep curl correctly and remember…You don’t have to be a hero and do it wrong! I want to thank Colossus Fitness for helping me create this video/article and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them down the comment section below! Until next time!



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