You know the adage: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When you aim to improve your physique, you don’t use the same approach day after day; instead, you diversify, incorporating several different movements, angles and loads. And when something stops working for you in the gym, common sense dictates that it’s time for a change. Yet there are some who play to the adage, repeating the failed workouts of yesteryear in hopes that this time will be different. One of the joys of lifting weights is that you have hundreds of options at your disposal, and there may be no greater ally than dumbbells in the quest for a better body.
Dumbbells are the Talented Mr. Ripley of the fitness world, doing the work of barbells and machines in nearly every imaginable exercise, oftentimes better. Their versatility is second to none, allowing lifters to detect muscular imbalances, train without a spotter, vary wrist angles…the list goes on. This month, take a mostly unilateral approach to your biceps training. Open with a standard mass-builder, dumbbell-style. From there, it’s on to dumbbell incline curls, which target the outer head of your bi’s. Close with a one-arm preacher curl to bombard that often-neglected inner head.
Need to inject a little variety into your biceps workout? Then walk away from that rack of EZ-bars and try our all-dumbbell routine. You’ll work your peaks from different positions that are guaranteed to keep them growing.
1. STANDING DUMBBELL CURL
How Many? 1 warm-up + 4 sets; 10, 10, 12, 12 reps
1) START: Stand erect holding two dumbbells at your sides. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows. Palms face forward.
2) MOVE: In an explosive yet controlled manner, simultaneously curl both dumbbells, keeping your elbows tight at your sides. At the top, squeeze your biceps hard as you hold the peak contraction momentarily. Slowly reverse the motion, bringing the weights back to the start. Repeat.
2. INCLINE ALTERNATING DUMBBELL CURL
How Many? 4 sets; 8-12 reps apiece
1) START: Set the bench to about a 45-60-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand as you sit back on the bench and allow your arms to hang straight down toward the floor. Palms faced forward.
2) MOVE: Curl one arm at a time toward the same-side shoulder, keeping your elbow back. Keep your head straight and don’t lean to either side. Squeeze your biceps at the top. Slowly lower to the start. Alternate arms.
3. ONE-ARM DUMBBELL PREACHER CURL
How Many? 3 sets; 10-15 reps for each arm
1) START: Hold a dumbbell in one hand and secure yourself on a preacher bench. Keep your nonworking hand on the bench for balance.
2) MOVE: Slowly lower the dumbbell, stopping just short of locking out your elbow. In a smooth and controlled motion, curl the weight toward the same-side shoulder. Squeeze at the top before slowly returning to the start. Complete all reps for one side, then repeat with the opposite arm.