There is no such thing as ‘the best exercise’ for any particular muscle group.
Any one exercise is only effective as long as it provides the body with an effective training stimulus.
Unfortunately, after an amount of time (generally between 2-6 workouts), the body accommodates (resists further improvement) to an exercise.
In addition, the joints of the body can suffer from long-term overuse strains if you stick to one exercise variant for too long.
One piece of good news though is that even simple exercises/actions have many different variations that can provide constant change and progress.
In order to achieve continued progress in muscle and strength (and avoid injuries) we need to change up the way we train that muscle group and use all the variations on offer.
For training the elbow flexors there are many options as the anatomy of the area is more complex than initially meets the eye.
We don’t have to change an exercise drastically to promote further gains… simply by changing the angle of the exercise we can access different muscle fibres of the target muscle group and avoid accommodation.
Anatomy of the elbow flexors
Over time, we want to ensure that we train all of the muscles that contribute to flexing the elbow. This will ensure continued progress, bigger, fuller arms and with any luck, an avoidance of injuries associated with over training.
First, you need to ensure that you are working with a fully supinated grip. Failure to do so will bring Brachioradialis into play at the expense of both heads of the biceps.
To hit the long head of the biceps, train with the elbows behind the mid line of the body. The more you take the bench towards a flat position, the more you will isolate the long head.
To train the short head of the biceps, take the elbows in front of the midline of the body. Same rule applies to isolate, just take it further forward and up. Preacher curls are a good example of this.
Standing curls will hit each head equally.
Pronated/Neutral Grip will work the Brachialis and Brachioradialis with secondary activation from the biceps. As a test of muscle balance, you should be able to do a standing curl, pronated grip with approximately 80% of what you can curl with a supinated grip.
Other tips and tricks.
- Fat bar and thick grip training will build bigger, stronger arms (GTT is the only local gym with all the thick grip training implements you’ll ever need).
- Isometrics (contracting the muscles bot not moving the weight) bring added growth to the forearms.
- Woking one arm at a time will lead to greater gains as you can direct more effort into an arm working in isolation.
- Squeeze your triceps at the bottom of each repetition to enhance the next repetition.
- All forms of seated curls are superior to standing curls, this is true for both seated incline type curls and also preacher bench variations.
- Whilst most people tend to do higher rep work when training this part of the body, don’t forget that sets of 6 and under can also be EXTREMELY beneficial.