The wide bicep curl is a variation of the regular bicep curl that specifically focuses on the short head of your biceps.
Unlike its regular counterpart, it requires that you keep your shoulders externally rotated while doing it, hence the name “wide bicep curl.”
Its mechanics are quite simple, which makes it a good option for beginners.
Follow the steps below to do it correctly:
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- Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms hanging by your sides.
- Rotate your shoulders externally so that you tuck the elbows into your sides.
- Curl the weights upward towards your shoulders until your forearms touch your biceps.
- Pause at the top position for a moment as you squeeze the biceps.
- Lower the dumbbells slowly and with control until your elbows are fully extended.
- Do 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps each.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES A WIDE BICEP CURL WORK?
The biceps brachii muscle attaches to your scapula (shoulder blade) in two places (or heads), hence the name “biceps.”
It is made up of two heads – the long and the short head – which flex your forearm. In this exercise, the star of the show is the short head.
By rotating your shoulders externally, you place more emphasis on the short head than the long one.
BRACHIALIS AND BRACHIORADIALIS
The brachialis is located under your biceps and its function is to flex your elbow. It connects the upper bone (aka humerus) to the forearm bone (ulna).
The brachioradialis helps it flex your elbow as you bend your arm during the curl.
The deltoid curves around the exterior part of your upper arm and shoulder. It is triangular in shape and the wide part of it attaches to your scapula and the collarbone.
It helps in the external rotation of your shoulder to bring the weights up during this exercise.
WRIST FLEXOR MUSCLES
The flexor muscles of your wrist connect your hand to your elbow.
The carpi ulnaris and carpi radialis flex your wrist towards the forearm while the superficialis and digitorum profundus connect your finger bones to your forearm bone.
These four flexors work together during the curl to flex your wrist when you bring the weights close to the biceps.
WRIST EXTENSOR MUSCLES
There are a lot of extensor muscles that run along the forearm, and they work together to extend your wrist during the curling phase of the exercise.
A few of them are the digiti minimi, digitorum, carpi ulnaris, indicis, retinacilum and the pollicis brevis which is connected to the thumb.
BENEFITS OF THE WIDE BICEP CURL
ALLOWS FOR SHORT HEAD DEVELOPMENT
Unlike the standard bicep curl, the wide bicep curl puts a lot of emphasis on the muscle fibres of the short head of your biceps.
So if you’re specifically looking to build the inner bicep head, this exercise should be your top option.
EASY TO DO
The mechanics of the wide bicep curl are quite simple; it shouldn’t take you more than one set to master the correct form completely.
ENHANCES UPPER BODY STABILITY
This exercise involves forearm supination, elbow flexion and shoulder stabilization.
All these processes help strengthen and stabilize the muscles and joints in your upper body.
It’s no secret that big, rounded biceps are aesthetically pleasing.
So if you want to build biceps that will make people stop and stare, here’s your chance!
ALTERNATIVES TO THE WIDE BICEP CURL
EZ BAR PREACHER CURL
To do it, you need a preacher bench and an EZ bar.
- Adjust the bench to rest your upper arms comfortably on the pad. Make sure the top of the bench is resting against your triceps – not in the armpits.
- Using a supinated grip, grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back solid and straight, curl the bar upwards while your upper arms remain fixed to the pad.
- When you get to the point where your arms are perpendicular to the ground, stop for a second and squeeze your biceps.
- Lower the bar slowly back to where you started, taking care not to let your elbows lock out at the bottom of the rep.
- Repeat these steps.
LYING CABLE CURL
The lying cable curl allows you to train the short head of your biceps with a cable machine, from a lying position.
For this exercise, you need a straight bar and a cable machine.
- Attach a straight bar to the low pulley on a cable machine.
- Sit on the floor, extend your legs and plant your feet on either side of the machine.
- Grab the bar with an underhand grip and lower your upper body to the floor so that you’re lying on your back.
- Tuck your elbows by your sides and curl the bar towards your chest.
- At the top of the movement, pause for a second and contract the biceps.
- Slowly and with control, lower back to the starting position. Don’t let your elbows lock out at the bottom – instead, keep them slightly bent.
- Repeat the steps until you complete your reps.
WIDE BICEP CURL MISTAKES TO AVOID
SQUEEZING THE WEIGHT TOO HARD
While it is good practice to grip the weight properly, a death grip does more harm than good in this exercise.
Squeezing too hard takes the tension off your biceps to your forearm muscles, and it could also hurt your elbows.
MOVING YOUR ELBOWS
Sometimes you may notice your elbows flaring out to the sides or moving to your back while you are doing the wide bicep curl.
This may be a sign that you are using momentum or lifting a weight that is too heavy for you.
Try to keep your elbows tucked into your sides as you curl up.
Using a lighter weight and slowing down your reps can help keep them in place.
The easiest way to get bigger, rounded biceps is by working the whole muscle without neglecting any of the two heads.
Use the wide bicep curl alongside long-head bicep exercises to develop a stronger and well-balanced bicep muscle.