The biceps curl is one of the most popular strength-training exercises, especially among guys who want those T-shirt-busting arms. But they are also important for women -- when you think about it, you use your biceps regularly throughout the day. It's a lot easier to carry those stacks of files or bags of groceries if your guns are in shape. Add biceps curls to your regular workout routine to get your arms ready for anything.
Biceps curls can be performed with dumbbells, a barbell, cable machine or a resistance band. Sit holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides and your palms facing your body. Bend your right elbow to lift the weight toward your chest. As you lift the weight, rotate your forearm so that your palm faces up as it nears your chest. Lower back to the starting position and repeat the movement with your left arm.
Strength improvement is a primary goal of biceps curls. Strength gains occur in the biceps brachii and brachialis on the front of the upper arm as well as the brachioradialis, which is on the upper portion of your forearm. The muscle fibers on the front of your shoulders are also strengthened to some extent. For the most strength gains, aim for two to four sets of six or less repetitions of the exercise with relatively heavy weights.
Biceps curls are also used to improve the endurance capability of your arms, which is a great asset for all you moms out there. Although fatigue-resistant biceps may not seem like an important asset, think of the last time you went for a long run -- after a few miles it usually feels good to shake your arms out and give them a quick rest. Add biceps curls to your routine and your arms will be able to keep pace with your legs. Ideally, shoot for two to three sets of at least 12 reps using lighter weights to up your endurance.
While big, bulky arms may not be on the top of every girl's wish list, building some muscle is a very good thing. Even if you don't want to look like a bodybuilder, you should still strive to build some muscle. Not only does muscle look better in clothes, it also helps burn fat. Because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, it has to burn calories to maintain itself, which means the more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest. If you're still worried about getting bulky, don't be -- it is very difficult for women to get large muscles. To build muscle, try for three to six sets of six to 12 repetitions of biceps curls.
- Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier; 2006
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Curl
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Third Edition; Thomas Baechle, et al
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.