Arnold curls or the Arnold press are a compound movement exercise that uses dumbbells to work your upper body muscles. This exercise is perfect for increasing your upper body strength.
This exercise gets its name from famous bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarznegger. He used this training technique to work his upper body to build muscles and boost his strength.
This exercise will push your body to its fullest potential by targeting your deltoids, back, shoulders and core. Being a compound movement exercise, Arnold curls are complex and can cause serious injuries when done incorrectly.
You do not need to go too heavy with the weight to achieve excellent results when doing the Arnold curls. This exercise keeps your muscles under tension longer than barbell presses and overhead presses therefore even the lighter weights stimulate a lot of muscle growth.
This exercise also works often neglected muscles such as the lateral and posterior deltoids which are not usually worked by usual upper body exercises such as barbell presses and overhead presses.
They evenly target your upper body along with the stabilizer muscles and help draw back the shoulders for a straight posture and assist with big pulling moves such as deadlifts and pull-ups.
HOW TO DO ARNOLD CURLS
- This exercise requires a pair of weights that are not too heavy since it keeps your muscles under tension and even the lighter weights will be stimulating plenty of muscle growth.
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart with a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height with your arms bent like they would at the top of a bicep curl and with your palms facing you.
- Then instead of pushing straight up, you spread your arms to each side laterally and press your arms up and twist your hands so your palms face forward.
- For full range of motion press the dumbbells overhead as high as you can or until your arms are straight and your biceps are by your ears.
- You can do 21 reps split into 3. For the first 7 reps focus on the bottom movement, stopping when the upper arm is parallel to the floor and the elbows are bent 90 degrees.
- For the second 7 focus on the top movement with the upper arms never going below parallel to the floor.
- The final 7 reps move through the full range of motion.
You can make this exercise more challenging by starting with your elbows slightly raised and upper arms parallel to the floor. This ensures there is tension on the shoulders even at the bottom of the lift.
Standing Arnold curls work your stabilizing muscles in the back besides targeting all three sections of your deltoids. The seated variation, the seated Arnold curls, however do not have this bonus.
Instead, it is advantageous in that sitting against a bench helps ensure you maintain good form hence can even work your shoulder muscles harder as a result.
To do the seated variation you need an exercise bench. Make sure your back is flat against the bench throughout the movement to make sure that it’s your arms and shoulders doing all the work.
WHAT MUSCLES DO ARNOLD CURLS WORK?
Arnold curls are an upper-body exercise. They mainly work your shoulders. They also work the arms, upper back and they also target the core for extra stability.
THE POSTERIOR, LATERAL AND ANTERIOR DELTOIDS
Arnold curls is a comprehensive exercise that targets and builds your shoulder muscles. Unlike other upper body exercises like the overhead press and lateral raises, it activates all three of the deltoid muscles in your shoulder.
It keeps your shoulder muscles under tension for the whole exercise. This causes muscle activation and muscle building. This is also great for burning body fat around your shoulders.
Arnold curls also integrate your upper back muscles during the lifting. The constant tension on your torso and the strength drawn from all these muscles will demand muscle activation and muscle building.
These muscles will be greatly involved in the lifting of the weights. The strength for lifting the weights is primarily drawn from these muscles.
Arnold curls will build your tricep muscles and increase your upper arm strength in the process giving you strong shapely arms
Biceps are involved in the curling movement of the curls. Just like regular bicep curls Arnold curls will also improve strength in the biceps and also shape them just like the triceps.
THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL OBLIQUES
Standing Arnold curls will target your core muscles mainly to improve its stability since it is also a stability training exercise. It will also help strengthen your core overtime.
BENEFITS OF ARNOLD CURLS
Arnold curls offer a wide range of benefits for your upper body when done correctly.
Arnold curls are an intensive strength training exercise which build your upper body muscles. They target and activate all the muscle groups cited above to increase strength over time which becomes noticeable when the exercise becomes easier and easier to do.
Arnold curls are a demanding exercise despite being easy to do and using relatively lighter weights. As you progress the exercise will seemingly get easier as your endurance improves.
This exercise will work the stabilizer muscles and draw back the shoulders for a straighter posture. It is also a stability training exercise that will also work on your shoulders and core muscles to improve your stability.
Arnold curls will recruit all sections of your deltoids to give you wider, fuller and more defined shoulders. This will give room for your upper arms which will also become bigger and more defined. It will also give you better back definition since it will also work your trapezius.
ALTERNATIVES TO ARNOLD CURLS
Bicep curls are very similar to Arnold curls. The only difference comes in where Arnold curls involve pressing the dumbbells overhead whereas the bicep curls involve curling the arm then returning to starting position and repeating.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING ARNOLD CURLS
USING TOO HEAVY WEIGHTS
Despite using light weights Arnold curls are a very intensive exercise. Using too heavy weights can put too much stress on your muscles especially if you are a beginner.
This exercise requires you to have proper form when doing because it can easily cause injury when done the wrong way.
It is therefore important to make sure you’ve read the instructions on how to do this exercise. If you feel pain in your shoulders or back then you are not doing the exercise properly.
Arnold curls is a great exercise for building upper body strength and for defining your shoulder, upper arm, and upper back muscles.
It is however also a complex compound exercise that can cause serious injuries when done incorrectly.
You, therefore, need to have a complete understanding of the instructions on how to do this exercise. It comes with many benefits when done correctly.