Building bigger arms is a common goal of gym-goers, but you won’t reach that target by cranking out endless biceps curls. For one, you shouldn’t neglect triceps exercises, and as we discovered when quizzing Nick Mitchell of body transformation specialists Ultimate Performance about biceps workouts, the trick is really to increase overall muscle mass.
However, that’s no reason to swerve biceps exercises entirely, and curls workouts can leave you with a satisfying pump and an inability to bend your elbow without incurring a significant burning sensation.
Created by fitness trainer Christian Poulos, this four-move train-till-failure biceps finisher is a fun challenge for your arms – and all you need is a pair of dumbbells. Watch Poulos demonstrate each exercise in the Instagram reel below and turn the sound on to hear his tips.
A photo posted by on
Pick a weight that allows you to reach failure after around 20 reps of reverse curls. It may take a few sessions to get your weight selection just right, but persevere. Use the same weight for all four moves, but switch to a single dumbbell for the final isometric hold. The final three exercises should be done to failure, meaning you should try to do as many reps as possible until you physically can’t lift the weight any more.
Complete as many strict reps as possible, keeping your torso stable and trying not to swing the dumbbell by using momentum from your shoulders. Instead, focus on engaging and isolating your biceps during each rep.
Once you’ve done as many strict curls as you can, though, Poulos says it’s fine to cheat on the final few reps to push your muscles as far as they can go. It’s OK if your torso moves a little during the last few reps, but don’t go overboard.
The final exercise is an isometric hold, which is beneficial for muscle growth in the area you’re targeting, as well as being great for improving core strength and stability. Look at our guide to isometric exercises to find out more.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.