Exercise & Fitness
Try this: Build better biceps
- Reviewed by Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
As a kid, showing muscle meant flexing your biceps. This "mirror muscle" (what man hasn't checked out his biceps in the bathroom?) is still important as you age. Strong biceps help with lifting, holding, and carrying heavy objects.
The old-school curl is still the best exercise for building biceps. Use a pair of light dumbbells (about 10 pounds each). You also can use soup cans, full plastic water bottles, or any other easy-to-hold item that feels like an appropriate weight.
Include biceps curls with your regular workouts, or do them on their own a few days per week. (And remember to check your progress in the mirror.)
Starting position: Stand tall with your feet about shoulder-width apart, chest lifted, and shoulders back and down. Hold dumbbells down at your sides with your palms facing inward.
Movement: Keeping your elbow close to your side, slowly bend one arm and bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder. As you lift, rotate your forearm, so your palm faces up. Hold at the top. Slowly lower the dumbbell, straightening and rotating your arm back to the starting position. That's one rep.
Follow a 4–2–4 tempo, meaning you take four seconds to lift the weight, pause for two seconds at the top, and then take four seconds to lower.
Do eight to 12 reps with one arm and repeat the movement with the other arm. This completes one set. Rest for 30 to 90 seconds and do another set.
To make the curl easier, sit in a chair or use lighter weights. If the last few reps are easy, increase the weight.
Image: © Jeremy Maude/Getty Images
About the Author
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
About the Reviewer
Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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