One of the challenges of biceps curls: You can't always go heavy. Go too heavy on a biceps curl, and your form easily breaks down. You start rocking at the hips, and your elbows start shifting in front of your shoulders, taking tension off your biceps.
But that doesn't mean you can't train your biceps with heavy weight. You just need a plan, and that's what you'll get from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., with the Half-Kneeling Clean to Eccentric Curl. This hybrid move helps overload your biceps for maximum growth, while also keeping plenty of tension on the muscle. In addition to that, it'll help you build explosive upper body strength, too.
"There's a lot going on here," says Samuel. "We're mixing a total-body power move with a focus on time-under-tension, and the results just might be what you need to spark serious arm growth."
Samuel adds that the move is great for anyone who's stuck at an arm training plateau. "If you've been doing plenty of classic curls but you're struggling to hold your form when you increase weight, or struggling to see arm-growing results, this is a move you need to do," he says. "You're acclimating the body to work with heavy weights, and you're forcing it to control those weights too."
The key to the clean to eccentric biceps curl: You'll go heavy. You should use a weight that's heavier than one you can curl. "That's going to force you to have to clean it upwards," says Samuel. "But resisting that weight downwards will help build strength."
It'll do more than that too. "On some level," says Samuel, "you have to get your biceps used to moving heavier loads. Even though you're just resisting the weight downwards, this is your chance to do that." The move works with either a kettlebell or dumbbell.
- Start in half-kneeling stance, a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand, core tight.
- Hinge back slightly, then clean the weight up to your shoulder, keeping your arm close to your body.
- Slowly lower the weight, rotating your palm upwards as you do. Aim to take 3 seconds to do it.
- Lower it all the way down then repeat. That's 1 rep; do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side.
Because it's a heavy-weight move, the clean to eccentric curl is a perfect lead exercise in a biceps workout, says Samuel. "You won't be moving as many reps as usual," says Samuel, "and you may not get that classic biceps 'pump' feeling. But you'll still be setting the stage for greater strength and pump in the long run." Follow with standard high-rep biceps curls and hammer curl variations afterwards for best results.