As a 40 year-old guy I enjoy all kinds of exercise. If it keeps me strong, helps me stay flexible or increases my endurance it makes it into my workout/playtime rotation.
At this age, strength and muscle disappear fast if you don’t work at it, so resistance training is always a priority, even basic bodybuilding movements with traditional weights to hit every body part.
Yes, every. This means curls of some variation for the biceps, and even isolation work for those rear deltoids. I do this because, like every other muscle in the body, the biceps (or the posterior deltoids) are important and functional. They play a vital role in flexing the elbow and supinating the forearm, both movements which happen often throughout the day.
The biceps are a vital link between the anterior deltoids and the forearms, which is why I was surprised to read an article in a popular men’s magazine quoting trainers that claimed they were “useless.”
According to the short blurb in the magazine, the triceps were the more “important” muscles, and isolation work on the biceps was unnecessary and even dangerous. Claiming that “curls pull your shoulders forward and bend your elbows out” leaving you prone to injury, the quoted celebrity trainer also said too much biceps work would make your pecs look ‘droopy.’ Uh-huh.
So does this mean you should stop training your biceps?!?
No! As the magazine goes on to state, you will get plenty of biceps work from doing compound exercises like rows, pullups and even deadlifts. But instead of ignoring these important muscles, try getting creative with how you work them. Forget the curls and consider these exercises:
-Hanging dumbbell rotations.
The biceps supinate the forearm, so why not add weight and resist this motion? Stand and hold a dumbbell in either hand hanging at your side, palms facing backwards, shoulders back. Grip the dumbbells firmly and rotate the hands until the palms are facing forward. Squeeze this position for 2-3 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Holding dumbbells at your sides, walk with palms face forward or rotate as you walk as in the exercise above. Engage the biceps with a firm grip on the dumbbells. This exercise is also great with 8x8x16 mason blocks or a similar odd object.
-Medicine ball curls.
Doing a curl with an open hand instead of with the fingers wrapped around a bar requires a slow, concentrated motion. Obviously some grip will be necessary, especially when you are lowering the ball, but open the hand through most of the movement. Start lighter and consider using one of the squishy sand-filled balls for this one.
While the majority of your workouts should involve compound exercises, don’t neglect the smaller muscle groups like the biceps from time to time. Undertraining these vital muscles can cause just as many problems as overtraining them. Get creative and have fun!
For more interesting biceps routines, read this article: