How to Count Alternating Bicep Curls

Don't count until you've lifted both arms.

Don't count until you've lifted both arms.

Counting your repetitions is the best way to track your workout progress and make sure you're doing the appropriate amount of exercise. It seems like a simple enough process, but throw in alternating arms with a biceps curl, and counting becomes a bit more complicated. Think of your arms as a unit; if you were doing biceps curls using a barbell, they would both work together for each repetition. Although they don't move at the same time when alternating curls, your arms are still a unit when it comes to counting.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, or sit on the edge of a chair or weight bench.

Hold dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight down and your palms facing out.

Lift the dumbbell on your weakest side, which would be your left side if you are right-handed. Bring it close to your shoulder by bending your elbow, squeezing your biceps.

Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and say "one." This is the first half of your repetition, but saying the number when you lower your weaker arm helps keep your counting on track.

Lift and lower the dumbbell on your stronger arm, then say "one" again. That completes one repetition.

Count each time you lower your arms, but only increase your count when you lift your weaker arm. If you're doing eight repetitions, move up to "two" only after you've said "one" twice, for example. This set takes a bit longer than lifting your arms together, but it helps you concentrate your movements on one set of biceps at a time.

Items you will need

  • Dumbbells
  • Chair
  • Weight bench

Tip

  • If you tend to lose count during alternating biceps curls, count each one separately but double the number of repetitions. For example, if you want to perform eight repetitions, plan to count to 16. Say a new number each time you lower either arm.

Warning

  • If you lose count, don't start over from "one." Estimate where you were in your count and start from that number, or consider it a complete set and perform another set after resting for a few seconds. It won't hurt you to do a few extra biceps curls, but you don't want to overwork the muscles by performing more repetitions than you're ready for.
 

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