Building big arms isn’t just about BICEPS and TRICEPS. Granted those muscle groups are going to make up the bulk of the size of your arms, however we can continue to increase their size by allocating time to training a few other muscles that often get neglected.
This is where the "Reverse Barbell Curl" comes in and today we’re going to cover the 3 Dumbest Mistakes made with this exercise!
Mistake #1 - Thinking The Reverse Curl Is A BICEPS-FOCUSED Exercise
You need to understand that any time your arms are supinated, THAT'S when the biceps are fully engaged.
This is why I’m constantly preaching in my biceps videos to NOT twist your hands at the bottom of the movement, because the more you pronate your arms the more you’re decreasing the overall activation of your biceps.
However, that doesn't mean the Reverse Curl is a bad exercise for arm growth just because we’re fully pronated. In fact, it’s because we’re in this position that we can focus on the two muscle groups that often get neglected in arm training and that’s the brachialis and brachioradialis.
Now, the brachioradialis is the main forearm muscle that runs down the top of your forearm and the brachialis, also known as the "hidden biceps muscle" because it lies underneath your biceps, helps give an overall fuller look to your arms when flexing. So, don’t skip out on reverse curls because you already did a few sets of barbell and dumbbell curls.
But it IS worth mentioning that BECAUSE most biceps exercises will also engage the brachialis and brachioradialis, it might be a good idea to incorporate Reverse Curls at the end of your arm training to take advantage of the “pre-exhaustion” of these two muscles or you could even superset reverse curls with barbell curls.
Mistake #2 - Extending Your Wrists At The Top Of The Curl
Now, I’m not really sure why this happens, but it does. Maybe you’re new to the exercise and you're using lighter than normal weight to get used to the movement pattern and because you’ve never really engaged your arms like this… that could be the reason.
But whatever the case may be, to perform the exercise correctly get a solid grip on the barbell and focus on maintaining wrist/elbow alignment throughout the entire movement. This way, you can keep the focus of the exercise on the brachialis and brachioradialis without placing unnecessary joint stress on your wrists.
Mistake #3 – Not Treating The Reverse Curl As An Isolation Exercise
You know I’m a fan of CHEAT REPS when it comes to “overloading” for growth and busting through plateaus.
But the Reverse Curl isn’t really meant for that. For this exercise, you need to focus on proper form to activate the muscle groups we’re trying to target. So avoid moving your torso and swinging. In fact, if your form starts to breakdown make sure you’re flexing your core and glutes to help you stabilize your body as you bring the weight up.
Also, avoid flaring your elbows as this will bring in additional traps and delts engagement. Instead, focus on keeping your elbows pinned to your torso throughout the entire movement.
Bonus Tip to help those of you who get “Wrist & Elbow Pain”
A lot of people skip out on reverse curls for the simple reason that holding a barbell with this position places too much strain on their wrists and elbows.
So easy fix, just use an EZ Curl bar. Yes, the additional pronation a straight-bar brings allows for a bit more engagement, but if it’s between the straight-bar or skipping the exercises all together, opt for the EZ-Curl bar or maybe even dumbbells.