There are few better ways to build you biceps than the classic dumbbell curl. Whether you’re using the lightest weights on the rack or you’re ramping up to a heavy set, the exercise gives you an ideal movement pattern to stimulate growth in your arm muscles.
There are varying levels of effectiveness when it comes to how you perform curls, though. If you’re lazy with your posture and swinging the weights around, you’re not going to get as much out of your reps than if you dial in your stance and move only at your elbows, truly isolating your biceps muscles. Check out our Form Check guide on the curl for all of the key details on how to do it the right way.
But you can introduce even more focused methods and tools to really emphasize the subtler points of your curl technique. Athlean-X founder and coach Jeff Cavaliere, C.S.C.S. broke down one simple hack, adding a resistance band to your biceps curls, which you can use to keep tension high throughout the entire exercise. The idea here is that if your muscles are challenged throughout the entire lift, you’ll reap more gains from the movement. You’ll need a resistance band and dumbbells for this technique, and focus to keep your form from flagging if you want the best results possible.
Combining the two implements will allow you to solve the issues inherent to the forms of the biceps curl using either the dumbbells or the bands individually. As Cavaliere explains, this comes down to the strength curve of each movement—or, put more simply for this case, the points where you face the most resistance during each rep.
“The strength curve of a dumbbell curl maxes out in the middle of the exercise, but it loses tension at the top, right where you want it the most, where the bicep is at peak contraction,” he says. “A banded curl provides max tension at the top, filling in the missing element of the dumbbell variation, but it’s too easy in the midrange.”
By holding the bands in each hand along with the dumbbells, you can keep that tension constant throughout the whole movement. Stand on the middle of the band, and make sure that each side has an equal length of band to keep the resistance uniform. Just make sure to keep the other key points of good form in mind when you perform these combined reps.
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