Q: I’m a big believer in your Positions-of-Flexion workouts. I have gotten more growth with that [3-exercise approach] than with anything I’ve tried. One exercise I often have a problem with is incline curls [the stretch move for biceps]. Is there a substitute?
A: Thanks for the POF props. A lot of trainees find the simplified 3-way full-range approach a logical way to more size and muscle fullness. It’s an efficient method for picking exercises to train a muscle completely with just a few exercises. You get muscle synergy, stretch overload, continuous tension/occlusion, and anabolic hormone release as well as full-range fiber activation…
As for your question, there is no other curling exercise that has you start the action with your upper arm angled down from and behind your torso. When your arm is straight in that position, the biceps is stretched over the shoulder joint, so it’s elongated for unique fiber activation and anabolic stress. Here are a few tips to make incline curls more effective:
1) Try different bench angles. The lower you set the incline, the more stretch you will get; however, too low and you can put too much stress on the shoulder joint. Try lower angles and higher angles to see what you feel best—just be careful and don’t jerk or heave the ‘bells to get them moving.
2) Wedge your elbows. Some trainees don’t feel the exercise because their elbows are free to move. If the bench you use is wide, you can angle your forearms out and use the sides as elbow supports. If that’s not possible, you could have your partner use his hands to keep your elbows stationary.
3) Keep your upper arms still. A lot of trainees allow their upper arms to drift forward as they curl. That decreases biceps tension and activates the front-delt heads. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor throughout the set, and only curl the dumbbells to a point at which your elbows are bent slightly above 90 degrees.
4) Curl with your palms facing forward. If you allow your palms to turn inward, you relieve stretch on the biceps at the bottom.
5) Angle your hands back as you curl. In other words, as the ‘bells are moving up, cock your wrists so your hands are angled back toward the floor.
For those unfamiliar, a full-range POF biceps routine is standing curls (midrange), incline curls (stretch), and concentration curls (contracted).
Note: For other POF bodypart routines as well as complete workout programs, see the official POF mass-building manual, 3D Muscle Building.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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