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Get Strict (and Get Results!) With Your Bicep Curls with Squat Machine "Lock In" Dumbell Curls

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If you want great biceps and great arms in general, you need to know two things...

First, the biceps grow best when you're performing heavy compound movements that work the biceps as a secondary mover, like chins, pulldowns, and rows.

Second, if you're doing isolation bicep training to supplement that heavier work, you MUST focus on keeping tight form, absolutely at the expense of weight. The biceps (when not being worked with the heavy compound stuff) need that tight form otherwise other muscles take over the movement and the tension comes off the biceps.

I'm sure you've been to the gym and seen people who curl a TON of weight (with not so great form) yet don't have the arms to show for it. And then you've seen the guys with BIG arms that seem like they hardly use any weight at all in comparison but use STRICT form.

There's your first clue...

Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that my arm size comes from heavy movements like rows, chins and and deadlifts. I know a LOT of guys with much smaller arms who can curl more than me...

So THIS exercise is for anybody who tends to use too much body momentum or movement when doing curls. It's going to be an instantly-humbling and learning experience for you :).

You'll simply be getting yourself into the squat machine or calf machine and do a dumbell curl while loaded. It's a very simple yet very powerful concept because what that does is lock your entire body into position for the curl.

There will be ZERO body movement and, because your body is loaded, your core and legs will be activated through the duration of the movement, teaching you how to tighten everything up and FORCE your biceps to be the only thing working.

It also has the added bonus of pinning the shoulders down so that they can't shift around during the curl, adjusting the leverage. Your elbow may come forward a little as you curl but the shoulder will not come up or shift forward to improve the leverage and make it easier on you.

So load the machine with a moderate weight - you don't need massive heavy weight or anything.

Grab a couple of dumbells that you could normally curl for about 15 reps. You wan to keep the weight lighter because your form is now going to be much tighter, whether you want to admit to it or not...

Get inside the machine, facing away from the stack (I find this works better for the mechanics of the curl).

Stand up.

Now you're in the upright position with the weight bearing down on your body and your arms in the bottom curl position. Your torso will be braced and your legs slightly bent because if you DON'T hold that position, your torso will crumple and you'll lose the position.

This is what makes it a perfect teaching tool.

Now begin the curl. I prefer one dumbell at a time, to focus on strict form.

One thing to to note...on the way down, DO NOT rotates the forearms. Keep the palm facing forward until the dumbell is down at your side. The moment you start to rotate (pronate, in technical terms, is rotating from palms-up to neutral grip...supination is rotating to the palms-forward position from the neutral position), you lose tension in the biceps.

We want this exercise to be all about tension and strict form.

Once it's down, repeat on the other side.

You'll notice with this, even if you TRY and use body momentum and movement, it's not going to happen. Your body is locked in and braced and your biceps are going to be on their own.

So if you want to be more strict in your own bicep work or if you're a trainer who has clients who you can't seem to stop from shifting around when doing curls, try this exercise. It'll force the issue and really teach the ideal form.

And yes, it is a humbling experience. If you're one of those people who can curl more than me because you cheat, this will serve you right ;)


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