Biceps Tutorial – Biceps Curl Execution and Training Principle

Biceps are muscles on the front side of the upper arm, which flex the elbow (elbow flexion), rotate the forearm (forearm supination), elevate the arm (shoulder flexion).  Flexing the arm, aka. biceps curl,  is the key movement.


Basically, training biceps involve some form of curling.  Dumbbell curl, barbell curl etc.  Pulling exercises like pull ups and rows also train the biceps but they may be slighter less effective compared to curls.

Let’s discuss bicep curl, and how beginner can arrange their biceps training.


Dumbbell Curl

Both hands stay close to your body.  Keep your elbow stable and curl with your biceps strength.  Exhale and lift to the top.  Inhale and return to the bottom slowly.

Rotate (pronate) your forearm at the bottom to get the full range of motion as more space is created for the arms to straighten.  Rotate back (supinate) when lifting up again.

Another way to do that is to keep the arm slightly bent at the bottom where the range of motion will be slightly comprised, but it is good for long dumbbells and barbells.

Previous one: Although biceps would have a slight pause, a larger range of motion,  and rotation of forearm (supination) are better for biceps as long as you don’t rest too long at the bottom.

Both ways are okay.


Common mistakes

Common mistakes include:

  • Elbow pointing out, elbow not staying close to your body
  • Curling out.
  • Small range of motion without getting to the bottom.
  • Elbow not stable and moving too far
    • which involves too much front delts.
  • No control on negative (eccentric) portion.
  • Swinging with your body.
    • It may only allow a slight swinging when you are fatigued or using heavy weight.
    • But it is not suitable for beginners.
  • Wrist not holding straight.


Training Principle for Biceps

For those with training experience less than 1-2 years, only ONE principle is advised, that is Progressively overload with weight.

Pick 1-2 exercises such as standing dumbbell curl and hammer curl, twice a week, including back/pulling day.  Each time just do 3-4 set of 1-2 exercises with 1-1.5 min rest.

Start with a lighter weight, according to your condition, may be 10 lbs or 15 lbs dumbbells.  Demand small incremental reps each week.  Aims for 12 reps+ per set.  When you can easily manage 12 reps+, you may then increase the weight used.


To build a stronger biceps for male, 20 lbs dumbbell is the minimal requirement.  You may experience rapid improvement in strength in first few months till a year, like from 10 lbs to 20 lbs.  It is much hard to progress from 20 lbs to 30 lbs.  It also depends on your body weight and strength as well.  When you hit a plateau for around half year, it probably means you have experienced all the newbie gains.


For beginners, multitudes of exercises variations like long/short head/incline/decline/preacher curls etc. are not needed.  These will just distract you from the most fundamental elements.  These variations, intensity techniques, higher volume will be useful when you have built the solid foundation, not vice versa.


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