A Question of Curls

Over in Facebook land there was a discussion on the Bicep Curl.


Now this was in one of the groups that I’m a member of specifically for the discussion of training amongst coaches and the like. If you aren’t an active coach, physio or nutritionist, you don’t get in the group.

So it’s not your usual bro-science fest of here-say.

The guys in the group are smart, if someone says something, it’s usually from a vantage point of real world experience training folk and very often backed up with some research references.

I don’t do the research references, I’m a bit on the thick side for that, but I have the experience.

And experience I have tells me that this polarising exercise is worth doing from time to time.

Just don’t make it a cornerstone of your training.#

I’ve written in the past, HERE and HERE about how we use the bicep curl, specifically the reverse curl as a way to keep fighters elbows healthy. Essentially we strengthen the brakes so that when their arm extends, straightening out with tremendous force, their elbow flexors (biceps) are able to arrest the movement and protect the joint.

Something I wish I’d understood years ago when my elbows used to kill me after some hard Karate sessions!

But what else are they good for?

Most people talk about the bicep curl as a single joint “isolation” lift for building big gunz.
But they also cross the shoulder and attach onto the shoulder blade.

Strict bicep curls with a dumbbell can assist in gaining control of the scapular and keeping the shoulder healthy.

Again, it’s not my go to option, but it once again shows that as an exercise the curl has more to offer than mere vanity.

So when should you put them into your training?

Simple answer, at the end, when all the big stuff is done. Simple as that.

So in answer to the question, “Are curls functional?”
The answer is yes. If you need to protect your elbow for combat sports, your shoulder for throwing or to fill out your sleeves for posing, yes there are reasons to put a couple of sets in at the end of your training.


Dave Hedges


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