It’s hard to imagine a proper bicep workout without barbell curls. This is because this exercise is so great for targeting the biceps that it’s hard to ignore it. But doing regular curls without adding some variations gets boring and not as effective for strength and mass gains.
This can be avoided by learning a few bicep curl variations to target your biceps from a different angle and make it work harder than before.
3 Biceps Curl Variations
1. Incline Dumbbell Curls
Start the exercise by setting the bench at a 45-degree angle and sit down. Take the dumbbells in your arms and keep your arms by your sides. Slowly curl the dumbbells up until they are close to your shoulders and then lower them down.
This exercise will allow you to fully concentrate on your biceps as you need to perform them while sitting and using a full range of motion. So, you can start with lighter weights to get used to doing this exercise properly.
Once you get proficient with light weights, start lifting heavier dumbbells to trigger your bicep growth.
2. Cheat Curls
One of the bicep curl variations that Arnold Schwarzenegger performed is cheat curls. To perform them, you need to use a heavier weight than usually would.
As the name suggests, you need to cheat a little bit to perform the exercise. Start the exercise by holding the bar at thigh level and hold it shoulder-width apart. Curl the bar up with a little help from arching your back to raise the bar.
Lower the bar to the starting position and repeat the same process again. Because you incorporate your lower back into the movement, you’ll be able to use a heavier weight. But be careful and avoid overdoing and using too heavy weights for this exercise as it might result in a lower back injury.
But if you perform just a couple of sets of this exercise, then it can add some mass and strength to your biceps.
3. Concentration Curls
One more variation of bicep curls Schwarzenegger used is concentration curls. This exercise might take more time to perform as you need to do it single-handedly, but its benefits are amazing.
First of all, make you perform concentration curls slowly and with a perfect form. This results in fully activating the biceps and giving mad gains. Even if you use lighter weights, this exercise will still be effective if you perform it correctly.
But because you need to perform it single-handedly, you shouldn’t go too heavy as this is an isolation exercise designed to sculpt the bicep over making it grow. Begin the exercise by positioning your elbow on the inside of your leg so that you could use it to support your arm while lifting the dumbbell.
Lean your upper body a little bit forward and lower your arm down. Slowly curl the dumbbell until your bicep fully contracts and then lower the dumbbell. Perform the same amount of reps and sets with your other arm to develop a symmetrical physique.
All of these three variations of biceps curls were performed by Schwarzenegger, so it proves that they can help to achieve great biceps gains. If you’re interested in how he performed his biceps curl routine, then you can see it below.
- Cheat Curls (warm-up set): 1 set, 15 reps
- Cheat Curls: 5 sets, 8-12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curls: 5 sets, 8-12 reps
- Concentration Curls: 5 sets, 8-12 reps
Of course, Schwarzenegger often changed his routine and it doesn’t mean that you need to use the same exercises and do as many reps and sets as he did. Rather, you should use it as an example and learn what works best for you.