7 Proven Benefits of Bicep Curls (No.1 is our favorite)
With the ‘functional training’ trend that has hit the health and fitness industry in recent times, bicep curls have gained a poor reputation in which they have been described as useless and ‘non-functional’ (whatever that means).
Fortunately, as people have started to realise that this ‘functional’ fitness trend is not as good as it was first made out to be, bicep curls are (thankfully) making a solid comeback.
Now, I can guarantee without question, that you will not be able to step three feet into a gym without seeing someone doing some sort of bicep curl variation.
And honestly, this is for a fairly obvious reason.
People want big, muscular arms. Arms that really stretch the sleeves of their t-shirts.
And seriously, why shouldn’t they?
A large pair of pythons is a clear demonstration of the serious time and hard work that has been put it in at the gym. They show both dedication and commitment to building a strong, muscular, and healthy body.
And Bicep curls are a key part of this.
But that’s not all.
Bicep curls are a great exercise that can be used to meet a number of different goals, and can have a host of benefits on the body in its entirety.
The following post outlines the 7 key benefits that come from integrating bicep curls into your training program.
1. Build Arm Size
We will get the most obvious benefit out of the way first.
Bicep curls (and their many variations) work a number of muscles within the arm, with particular emphasis on the biceps (duh), and the other elbow flexors.
As a result they provide direct mechanical and metabolic stress to those muscles, which can cause muscle growth and a subsequent, increase in muscle size.
While some ‘functional training gurus’ will tell you that you can build large, muscular biceps with inly ‘functional,’ whole body exercises, don’t believe them. Bicep curls are integral to isolating the bicep muscle group and maximising your arm growth!
2. Increase Arm Strength
In a similar fashion to our first point, Bicep curls isolate the muscles of the arm.
While this is essential for building arm size, it also plays an extremely important role in developing arm strength. By integrating heavy bicep curls into our training, we can improve arm strength significantly.
This increase in arm strength can carry over to a host of other exercises, improving your ability to perform rows, chin-ups, and pull downs – all of which are extremely important movements.
3. Develop Core and Hip Stability
One of the few issues that I do have with the bicep curl is not with the exercise itself, but rather the way that most people complete it. People frequently create momentum by extending the lower back rapidly to complete the curl.
Not only does this place an undue amount of stress on the spine itself, it also affects the function of the shoulder joint. As a result, it can lead to both low back pain and shoulder irritation.
But, if you complete curls properly, not only do you limit your risk of injury, you can also train the stabilising muscle of both the core and the hip.
This is done by squeezing your glutes as tight as possible, and ensuring you maintain a neutral spine, for each and every rep. This ensures you keep a strong core and maintain hip stability, without taking the spine through ANY movement at all.
Additionally, if you perform your curls with one dumbbell, one are at a time, you will increase the core demand of the task considerably. This will further improve your ability to stabilise the core, leading to a large increase in core strength.
4. Develop Scapula and Shoulder Stability
Something that a lot of people tend to forget is that that the long head of bicep brachii (the largest of the bicep muscle groups) actually connects to the scapula. As a result, it plays an important role in both scapular and shoulder joint stability.
By training this muscle we can improve our ability to stabilise the scapula against the rib cage, which will improve shoulder function during a massive amount of other movements such as bench presses, push ups, and pull ups.
It is important to note that to get this benefit, you do need to perform then bicep curls extremely well (see point 3).
5. Increase Bone Strength
Heavy weight training will not only help you lose fat and build muscle, but also promote improvements in the strength and health of our bones.
By participating in regular weight training, we can cause increases in our bone density. This effect actually seems to be somewhat exponential, with the more weight training you undertake, the more your bone density will improve.
By improving our bone density we increase their strength, making them more resilient to bone related injuries such as fractures and breaks.
6. Build Grip Strength
While this one may seem a little obvious, don’t discount its importance.
Having a strong grip improves your capacity to perform a number of exercises within the gym, aids you in day to day life, and arguable plays an important role providing a solid first impression to ANYONE you meet (strong handshake anyone?).
Bicep curls have an extremely intensive grip demand, and as such can be a fantastic exercise to improve grip strength and endurance.
7. Promoting Fat loss
Now this one is somewhat indirect, but holds true all the same.
Strength training creates a significant metabolic demand on the body, which burns energy. This increase in energy demand can lead to weight loss over time.
Additionally, considering that strength training causes significant damage to muscle tissue, metabolic demand (and the energy we are using) increases during the entire duration of the recovery process required to repair this damaged muscle tissue (24-48 hours).
This can lead to a substantial increase in energy requirements, leading to considerable fat loss!
So to summariser, bicep curls should not be demonised for their lack of ‘functionality’.
They play an important role in building arm size and strength, have the potential to improve stability at the core, hip, scapula, and shoulder (when performed correctly…), can develop both bone and grip strength, and can also promote weight loss.
So seriously, there is absolutely no negative to including bicep curl variations into your training program!