Why do you do curls? Should they be included?
Reason to include them:
I know that new lifters are going to throw them into their routines no matter what anybody says. I try to include them in routines in such a way that is not going to derail the whole routine. Something like a couple of sets of barbell curls will keep most new lifters happy and they will be less likely to switch routines for the latest blitz-and-bomb bicep program.
Also, I think curls are a very functional lift...really, I do
Reason to not include them:
When recovery is at a premium, I think pull-ups and rows give you more bang for the buck. If you are one of those guys that does not recover well from too much stimulus, then adding little isolation exercises can derail your efforts.
Can you think of any more...
I threw them in because it helped my arms stay balanced for benching. My triceps are redonk so I could push a lot of weight when I started but I had problems controlling it on the way down and my biceps spasmed the whole time. Then I kept them in bc my arms kept getting bigger. Whether it was from DLs or rows more than curls, probably, but I didn't want to change something that was working.
Though I have to say now that I do dips and pullups and rows in place of curls lol I would say they are not necessary and I wouldn't put them back in my routine. I avoided pullups for a long time though bc I'm 270ish lbs but I decided they're too good not to do even if I can only do 3 at a time after I deadlift.
Last edited by dynamo; 12-06-2009 at 09:13 AM.
400(335) Bench Press
600(520x3 2xBW) Dead Lift
500(495x1) ATG Squat
365 Front Squat
consistency and intensity.
reasons to include them
- for me, my left bicep is much bigger than my left and that even makes a difference during rows, so i do Alt DB Curls once a week to try to even them out
- if your biceps don't respond as well to chins and rows
- ego (for some people)
- people want to have big biceps-- when you flex your arms, everyone looks at your biceps
reasons to not include them
- i feel like a loser working biceps
- in the big picture, it's nothing important
- already hit bi's hard doing other exercises
- bi's make up 30% of the arm, and focusing more on tri's will help your arms more than focusing more on bi's.
Last edited by JRider23; 12-06-2009 at 11:26 AM.
Big arms look good but as Stuart McRobert says: "The easiest route to big arms isn't a straight line to the curl bar." The problem is that biceps command an inordinate amount of attention in both lifters and the general populace.
I'm one of those guys that doesn't respond to volume and isolation so I don't do them. I haven't done a curl for years. Maybe once I've progressed a bit further I'll throw them in but right now I just don't give a ****.
Why not do them? There is nothing wrong with specific arm work. No need for a lot of volume, but one should definitely train their biceps just as they should train all of their larger muscles.
^^ I don't know if that was addressed at me or not but I do chins in place of curls. Which is a similar movement and I think what Off Road was getting at.
Another potential reason for doing curls is that some people just like doing them and find them a fun exercise. I think sometimes weight-lifting can get a bit prescriptive, do this, don't do that... but if you're doing everything right then there's no reason not to fit in the exercises you like.
ain't nuttin but a peanut.
You will have gotten stronger when the weight that feels heavy is actually heavier than the weight that feels heavy now. Then the weight that feels heavy now will be a warmup for the weight that feels heavy then. But the weight will always feel heavy or you're not lifting enough weight. Clear? -Rippetoe
You should always focus on building the largest muscles of the body, but you should not forget things like biceps and triceps. For most (if not all) compound lifts the arms are most certainly a limiting factor.
I can see what Chris is talking about. I've found [in the past] that my chin-ups have increased by focussing on rows and curls and not even doing a single chin-up.
At the risk of sounding immodest, trust me. I know more than 99% of the most popular gurus out there. I have pretty good size and strength to back up my thoughts as well as access to the best minds in the business.
People on websites like these have taken a good message and perverted it. The good message is to focus on the compound movements and not single joint movements like curls. That will make you grow. Endless sets of curls, kick-backs, and pec flyes will not make you big and strong. A limited number of sets with benches, deads, and squats WILL make you big and strong all over.
Now, does this mean accessory isolation work is bad? NO!!!! It means it should be added sparingly as support work for the compound movements. THAT is what will make you biggest and strongest.
I may have to add these in once or twice a week. I'm really struggling with my chin ups right now, maybe these will help.
I'm with Chris on this. I'm not a big believer in arm work, but don't totally neglect them. I'll toss in a couple bicep and triceps exercises.
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So, I think a lot of guys tell new lifters to replace the curls in favor of compound movements knowing that they'll still sneak in some curls here and there, which would be perfect
I just love curls i like the way it feels when i do them i like the way I look when I do them i like the way my arms look for a few minutes after I do them . That and I work at home so rows and curls is all I do for arms. Until I bet a chin up bar . Being as lazy as i am it may be awhile before I get around to it
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Curls as a "functional exercise", bent arms and strongman training.
Maybe Tom can chip in here but I've wondered what the official line on biceps work is for strongman training. I've wanted to start a thread on this for a while.
The arms, and especially the biceps are crucial for picking up awkward objects and carrying them. With deadlifts you only ever lift with straight arms, but in real life you usually have to stretch your arms around the object, hitch it up or carry with bent arms. When I was working as a removals/manual labour guy over the summer this was constantly apparent with every desk I carried! I think my arm strength remained OK while everything else plummeted.
I've heard some strongman competitors do no bicep work in the gym because they don't want to risk bicep tear, and others do lots of bicep work because they also don't want a bicep tear... Thoughts.
"The deadlift is more functional in that its very hard to imagine a more useful application of strength than picking heavy *h*t up off the ground" Rip
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I do curls palms down once or twice a week to hit my forearms
I haven't done hardly any curls lately, but I do a decent amount of chin and pull ups and various rows, lately I have noticed biceps giving me problems during bench, might be my form or it might be my biceps just aren't getting hit hard enough. I will probably throw in a set of curls once a week for a while just to see if that makes my pain go away.
BT (Ben Tatar, in an interview with Ed Coan) : YOU DON'T TRAIN MUSCLES LIKE BICEPS?
Ed Coan: nope, biceps are like ornaments on a xmas tree
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