Exercise of the Week – Bicep Curl

by Tia Dewick in Training

bicep curl | griffin fit


The bicep curl is a wonderful isolation exercise to tone up your biceps. I’m sure you’re all familiar with a bicep curl as you complete them each morning when drinking your cup of coffee 😉. The perks of the bicep curl is that there are so many variations that can keep you on your toes with something different each week.

1.    The typical bicep curl gains resistance to the muscle tissue through the use of dumbbells. From a standing position, feet shoulder width apart, arms by your side and palms facing away from you, lift the dumbbells up towards your chest and then back down by your side. For strength training you want to aim for 8-12 reps and 3-5 sets. Remember ladies, don’t fear the weights!

2.    The first variation of the bicep curl is to substitute the dumbbells for other pieces of equipment such as TRX bands, cables, a bar, resistance bands or an isolation machine or bench. The movement will remain the same with the exception of machines and benches encouraging a seated position and the TRX bands will encourage either a seated position or a slightly tilted back position to drop and elevate the full body (still keeping the legs and back nice and straight) when bending and extending your arms.

3.    A further variation are incremental bicep curls whereby the full set does not consist of the full movement. There can be as many increments as you wish but typically 2-3 are used. This increment just basically means that you don’t lift the dumbbell quite so high all the way through, so you may complete the full movement for 4 reps, half the movement for 4 reps and 4 small movements for 4 more reps. This variation enables all the different muscle tissues to be targeted.

4.    The next variation is to utilise single arm bicep curls, whether that be 12 on one arm and then 12 on the next or alternate your arms after each rep. There’s 2 variations in one!

5.    The final variation I shall walk you through today is the use of negative reps. Negative reps are where the decline of the arm is the slowest part of the movement. So quickly raise the weights towards your chest and then sloooooowly drop the weights back down by your side.

TOP TIP: Remember, if you provide your muscles with the same exercise week in week out with no variations or increase in weight and/or reps your body will cease to adapt. So mix your training up each week to ensure progress!