The lowdown on dumbbell concentration curls
Here’s what you need to know about the classic dumbbell concentration curl and why you need to include it in your workout.
Dumbbell concentration curls are an isolation movement which primarily targets your Biceps brachii or your bicep muscle. It has two heads: the short head and the long head. The former originates from the front end of your scapula (shoulder blade). The long head originates from the back end. The short and long heads converge on the same tendon which is latched on to your forearm bone. They work synergistically to help flex your elbow.
When you perform dumbbell concentration curls, several muscle groups stabilize your movements. These include your trapezius (the muscle which radiates from the base of your neck and the shoulders to your upper back), obliques, Levator scapulae (a muscle at the back and side of the neck), Erector spinae (a group of muscles and tendons which run along the length of your spine), and wrist flexors.
It’s important to develop your biceps not just for showing them off but also for effective outward rotation of your forearm and flexing of your elbow. I know it’s easy to take these two movements for granted. However, if you want to perform your daily tasks efficiently (such as moving furniture at home and carrying your kids), you have to hit your biceps hard during your workouts. Dumbbell concentration curls are an excellent way of doing just that.
On a practical note, you can perform dumbbell concentration curls at the comfort of your home. You don’t need a fancy home gym to pull this off: all you need are a dumbbell and a flat bench (for the seated variety) and you’re good to go.
How to Perform Dumbbell Concentration Curls
Now, I’ll be sharing with you the step-by-step instructions for both the seated and standing variations of dumbbell concentration curls.
How to perform a seated dumbbell concentration curl:
- Sit on the end of a flat bench and lean forward. Hold a dumbbell with your right hand and then place the backside of your upper right arm on the inside of your right thigh. Place your left hand on top of your left thigh. Your upper left arm and left forearm should form a 90-degree angle.
- Make sure you extend the length of your right arm and dumbbell toward the floor. Squeeze your right bicep hard as you curl the bicep toward your left pectoral muscle. Pause for a second or two before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat to the desired number of repetitions for your right bicep before switching over to your left bicep. Aim for three to four sets of 10 reps for each bicep.
How to perform a standing dumbbell concentration curl:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor and lean forward.
- If you’re going to start curling with your right arm, assume the same starting position for this arm as the seated variety. The only difference is you don’t place the backside of your upper right arm on the inside of your right thigh.
- In standing dumbbell concentration curls, your curling arm remains unsupported (hence, it’s a greater challenge). Squeeze hard as you flex your right bicep. Once your right forearm is parallel to the ground, you’ve reached the top of the movement. Hold this position for a second or two before returning to the starting position.
- As for your left hand, you can place it on your left thigh just above the knee while your right arm is doing the work. Repeat the movements with your right arm until you reach your desired number of reps. Switch over to your left arm and follow the aforementioned steps.
Tips for Effective Dumbbell Concentration Curls
- To get the most gains from dumbbell concentration curls, you need to perform them with the proper form. Here are some useful tips to make your dumbbell concentration curls more effective and safe:
If you’re new to this exercise, start with a lightweight dumbbell. Once you have mastered the movements, then you can gradually increase the resistance. Lifting too much weight too soon will compromise your form, which is a no-no. You will also increase your risk of injuries.
- Refrain from locking your elbows at the bottom of the movement. This places less emphasis on your bicep muscle, which is the last thing you want when doing dumbbell concentration curls.
- Squeeze at the top of the movement to feel the burn and muscle pumps (nothing beats the feeling!). When you return to the starting position, do it slowly so you place more tension on your bicep.
- Finally, try complementing your dumbbell concentration curls with other great bicep exercises such as barbell curls, preacher curls, cable curls, dumbbell incline curls, dumbbell hammer curls, cable supine curls, or lever curls. Doing a variety of bicep exercises every few weeks will promote muscle growth and keep your arm day more interesting.
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