Today, I’m going to illustrate how to get the absolute best out of your ‘EZ Bar’ or ‘Curl Bar’ curls.
Let’s face it: When people know you work out, 9 times out of 10 it’s your biceps they want you to flex. So let’s make EVERY set as effective as it can be.
By working in harmony with your body’s biomechanics, we can achieve the following 2 things:
(1) Lift the maximum weight possible for a given movement while still…
(2) Stimulating the intended muscle throughout the whole movement
This is what I consider GOOD form. In fact, it’s OPTIMIZED form so it doesn’t get any better!
While it would be possible to use a heavier weight, you would have to forgo maximum muscle stimulation by allowing momentum to carry the weight.
Conversely, we could stand rigidly and try our best to ONLY stimulate the intended muscle (making it an isolation movement). But then we wouldn’t be overloading the muscle with the maximum weight – short-cutting our gains BIG time.
Optimized form is the ‘sweet spot’ you must shoot for.
Today I’ll apply these principles to Curl Bar Bicep Curls, allowing you to build yourself a very impressive set of guns. This tutorial also covers ‘barbell curls’ as the content would be the same in all but the title.
Check out the video clip…
- Bend at the knees to pick up the weight, or ideally, lift the bar from a rack. Lifting from a rack will expend a little less energy and conserve more for your working set.
- You want to grab the bar with a natural grip i.e. at a width that feels right and comfortable to you. For me, that’s about shoulder width.
- Get into position for your first rep: Allow your torso to fall forward a little, feel strong and confident – tell yourself the weight is light if necessary.
- Now initiate the rep with your biceps and curl upwards. Once you’ve started the rep, allow your body to move backwards as is natural – don’t fight it and become poker straight. Despite what you’ve been told, this is NOT good form.
- The top of the rep is when your biceps have reached the Peak Contraction Point. Going beyond this offers no further advantage and actually seeks to prematurely fatigue the biceps.
- Now let your torso come forward again but don’t drop the bar. Lower it under the control of your biceps, letting them feel the negative part of the rep.
- The positive/concentric part of the rep should take about 1 second to complete, and the negative/eccentric aspect about 2 seconds.
- Repeat. You should reach positive failure somewhere between the 8th and 12th rep.
Performing your curls in this manner will go a long way to giving you guns you can be proud of!
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Mark, there seems to be an issue with the video link. can you re-embed? thanks!
Rock on, mark.
Your biceps have a great length and I can see you’re really stretching them out on the bottom. I think it pays off. Nice shoulders too!
@iRobot – LOL, I understand from the comment that you didn’t actually read the article but came straight from youtube.
@Jerry – seems to be working fine mate. Maybe an issue at your end with flash or something?
@Andrew – Thanks man. You’ll be there soon bro!
Youtube was down a few minutes ago… it’s back up
Duuude!!!! I want your arms!!!! Great chest too, your pecs are popping through that top!!
Thanks Bry 🙂
For biceps curls, I can’t use a straight bar at all, but the ez is only slightly better. The pain in the outer portion of my forearms sometimes causes me to stop the set. Afterwards, I have to forcefully bend my wrists to work out the pain/tension. I love the ez bi curl, but I think I’m stuck in the world of dumbells for my biceps. I currently do alternating dumbell curls and incline curls.
Anyone else have this issue?
Thanks for the tips!
I got one question though considering your breathing. I’ve always been told to never hold my breath while lifting the weight (the positive part) but to exhale while doing so and taking a breath during the negative part. Have you ever heard of this or does it not really matter.
Ignore the troll’s first comment. The form is excellent. I’m really loving these How-to videos for weight lifting. It’s really helped with my lifting, specially the french curls.
I think that straight bar can hurt some people’s arms. I had that issue with tendon/ligament strain early on but resolved it by building more strength on the lower initial start of the curl by taking my time and stretching the curl.
Oxygen is needed to keep the muscles going. So, holding your breath can very well create early exhaustion. Sure, you can take a deep breath in and slowly let it out and holding it a bit might feel natural but breathing in and out consistently will get those veins popping and help flush the bad and deliver the good as you work the muscle.
Excellent Article, wanted to know a bit more about how to perform these and I’ll look forward to doing my EZ bar curls like this in the future. Bring on my Bicep day.
I can see how you would derive that opinion. Many people don’t realize that the bicep curl is a mass exercise and the only way to really build biceps is with heavy weight. As you probably know, there are plenty of various methods of working muscles, isolation, assisted reps, negatives, “cheating” and all of them have a distinct purpose.
Watch the youtube video again looking at the line from the starting position to the end. When he leans over, he’s allowing a straight line to occur and when he curls his elbows stay relatively in place. As he reaches the top his body shifts back but his elbows stay in place so that there is constant tension on the muscle, this is a good thing. If he were stay stiff, he would be putting unnecessary stress on the joins and if he leans back too much his biceps loose the constant tension. It’s a delicate balance…
I should add that he’s doing these exercises very controlled… not whipping it around or using velocity to get to the top.
perfect body man. That’s the look I aspire to. Bigger than me but also leaner than me too. The videos are great, very helpful Mark.
I had the same problem a while back, after countless hours of research i had come to the conclusion that by using excessive amounts of weight on both biceps and back days i had strained if not torn the fascia in both of my forearms, this is the fiberous membrane that holds the muscles in place. I used only dumbells for biceps and made 100% sure that my form was spot on for both biceps and back, even with this it took over a year before i could do a Barbell curl without any discomfort.
again another great article and brill advice – dont know how you manage it all mark – esp from an armagh man.haha. keep up the good work – fermanagh’s no.1 musclehack fan
Very informative information. I’m in the process of bulking, so building bulging biceps is part of the plan. Anyway, I will take these tips on my next bicep day. Keep hacking them muscles!
Nice one Mark and good to see you in the light ;0)
Any reason why it would not be a good idea for me to just do 6 – 9 sets of barbell work for Bis and skipping the dumbells?
I’m finding these videos very useful! I’ve always believed in BO form (even though I didn’t know it had a name). I did the tricep french curls at the weekend and mark arms are still hurting though! – Should have stretched after (it may also have been to do with playing golf for the first time in ages before my workout!)
this is an interesting video, i’ve always been taught to keep my torso from rocking back and forth. you have great results so i’m sure you know exactly what you are doing. when you curl up it appears if you are using some back muscle to help with the weight, is that true?
correction to my previous post, it should have said, is there any momentum of rocking back that helps to bring the weight up and takes some from the biceps, btw thanks for all the video, really enjoy your site !
You guys rock. The fascia diagnosis sounds about right. I’ll take both of your suggestions, dropping the barbell routines and working slowly in the initial portion of the reps.
Just wanted to let you know that the video for the standing bicep curl is not viewable.
Tryin not to be a downer, but, your form in this Vid is incorrect. No momentum should be used. Stand up straight, don’t fully extend and lock out your arms, and your good to go.
@Bentley – you need to actually read the article, not just watch the video. Also, read the interview I did with Jeff Willet to understand why natural bodybuilders should use this form:
@jerry & mark: yea i have same problem. link not working here nor in youtube. other links are fine.
I’ve been following your blog for sometime. It seems you’ve got lots of information, and you do look great.
BUT- so also many other bodybuilders. Your method of Biomechanically Optimized Form is very interesting and logical…but is it scientifically or medicinally approved?
What are your professional qualifications? I tried to find those details on your blog, but couldn’t.
Though seems very convincing, I simply fear your suggestions might hurt my body.
I’d love to get your response.
Like the saying goes, there’s no original thought. Mark isn’t making this stuff up. But, it’s your choice if you decide to try it.
“Paul Delia, president of AST Sports Science and the creator of the MAX-OT training program, calls it biomechanically optimized form.He believes that using form that’s too strict can actually hurt you.”Using strict, rigid form defies your body’s natural biomechanical movements,” Delia says.”That creates very high and abnormal stress to joints, connective tissue and muscle attachments.These abnormal forces can increase your chance of injury while training.”
Just a little update. I bought the Valeo gloves that Mark recommends. The wrist wraps have take the load off my wrists and I’m able to do the ez bar bicep curls now!
Great to hear Aaron.
How to do Incline Dumbbell curls?
Can the wait was picked by both hands at the same time or separate times?
I downloaded your Total Anabolism book and it is really good. I saw that you made a suggestion of a 5 day split. But, i found this at a website and i wanted to ask you if it`s true.
Do not train with high intensity more than 2 days in a row unless you are genetically gifted with excellent recuperative abilities. Take the days off and allow yourself to GROW!
Sincerely, Jean P
@Riyas. Same time.
@Jean. It’s not a concern if
1 – workouts are brief
2 – you are NOT working the same body parts consecutively.
Yes but the thing is also has to do with the central nervous system. Doesnt that affect in any way?