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Your biceps are what make your arm mobile, so you can bend and straighten your elbow. The lower bicep is actually the working part of the arm that helps with elbow flexion, so building strength in the lower biceps will help you maintain mobility while increasing power. Many upper body exercises that don't focus on your arms still rely on arm power, thus giving solid, well-built biceps a key role in total upper body strength.
Curls are the go-to bicep exercise and by design they focus on the lower biceps. Exercises like dumbbell concentration curls, barbell prone incline curls and barbell or dumbbell preacher curls all zero in to work the lower biceps. Doing curls with a fat bar will help your overall arm strength because the thicker bar will also improve your grip and forearms. If your gym only has traditional dumbbells and barbells, wrap a hand towel around the bar where you grip it to make a fat bar.
The Stretch Curl
The stretch curl is a variation of a basic curl but it's done using exercise bands or in combination with dumbbells and bands. Stand on the band with your foot and the band behind you and holding the handle in your hand. The movement is just like a traditional curl but creates a stretch in your upper biceps while the lower biceps contract, making it especially effective in making the most of the lengthening and contracting action.
Benefits of Including Compound Exercises
Curls are isolation exercises. While they are beneficial, they don't work your arms in the way you use them in sports or even day-to-day activity. Your usual arm movements call on supporting muscles to help advance you from one position to the next. That's why trainers recommend doing a mix of isolation exercises along with compound exercises to build muscle and strength. For instance, chin ups and pull ups done with traditional and neutral bars, allowing for variation in hand position, are exercises that focus on your back, but they'll also incorporate your lower and outer biceps into the action.
Working Biceps Exercises Into Your Regimen
Unless you have unlimited time to spend in the gym, you probably don't have a workout day to dedicate to just working biceps. To work your biceps more efficiently, do one or two curl exercises, chin ups and some back exercises like rows and pull downs. Complete three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps for each exercise. Work your back and biceps at least one to three times per week, allowing at least 48 hours of rest between back and bicep workouts.