Think back to when you were a skinny guy (or gal!) that first set foot in the gym: untrained, probably intimidated, and without a clue of what exercises you should be doing.
But we can almost guarantee that there was one exercise you knew you wanted in your arsenal: the Bicep Curl.
Biceps are often the first muscles newbies look to train, for a number of reasons. Primarily, the biceps are more visible than a lot of other muscle groups, and will make your arms look bigger (especially in short sleeve shirts).
So we assume you have been doing your traditional bicep curls, and maybe even throwing in some hammer curls for variety. In today’s article, we’re going to throw you a curve ball, and hopefully help build some muscle at the same time by going over the benefits of Reverse Bicep Curls.
Before we get too far into the meat of this article, you need to be aware that Reverse Curls are a great workout for your grip, but if grip strength is something you’re struggling with, you may want to try working your grip a bit before advancing to reverse curls.
A great way to build grip strength is with Gunsmith’s original Grenadier Grips. Grenadier Grips are the Next Generation of Fat Grip Training, providing a larger grip surface for barbells and dumbbells. This translates to working your forearms harder in order to grip the bar.
By throwing a pair of Grenadier Grips on your barbells or dumbbells during each workout, you’ll be training your grip and strengthening your forearm muscles at the same time.
You may also find some use in a set of our Power Grips. Power Grips are designed to replace gloves, lifting straps, wrist wraps and hooks. Power Grips not only improve your grip, but give much-needed wrist support and hand protection during your workouts.
With that out of the way, let’s continue on and discuss the benefits of Reverse Curls, and whether you should add these in to your current workout routine.
WHAT IS THE REVERSE CURL
The reverse curl, also known as the overhand bicep curl, is exactly what it sounds like. With a traditional bicep curl, you pick up the dumbbells or barbell with an underhand grip, meaning your palm is facing up.
This is an incredibly natural-feeling motion, and how a person would normally perform the curl motion when lifting something to their mouth.
When performing reverse curls, you’ll want to grab the weight with an overhand grip, palm facing down. In contrast, reverse curls feel unnatural, and will take a bit of time and practice to really get the movement down.
But although it may feel awkward, rest assured that this exercise is stimulating both your biceps and forearm muscles in a way that much different than your standard curl.
BENEFITS OF THE REVERSE CURL
For us here at Gunsmith, we think the biggest benefit of performing reverse curls is that they target your biceps and forearms in a totally unique way.
We see it as similar to switching up your leg routine by throwing in front squats when you normally do back squats. Not only is the change a shock to your system and forces your central nervous system to adapt, but it will also work the muscle groups differently.
By reversing your grip for your curls, you’re still getting a great bicep workout, but now you’re working your forearm muscles in a different manner. This is how you’ll get those big Popeye Forearms.
The reverse grip curl also requires more coordination, proper form and control of your body, as it’s not as natural of a movement as the standard curl.
OUR FAVORITE VARIATIONS OF THE REVERSE CURL
EZ Bar Reverse Curls
If you don’t know what the EZ Bar is, you’ve been missing out. The EZ Bar is the short barbell that looks like a stretched out ‘W’ in the middle. It’s designed primarily for curls, but can obviously have a variety of other uses.
For doing reverse curls, the EZ Bar is an incredibly valuable tool. The EZ Bar allows for a grip that’s closer to neutral, so if you have wrist pain it can help to alleviate that. With the EZ Bar, you can do reverse curls that are beyond the grip for a hammer curl, but not as far as 180 degrees from a standard grip.
If you’re not already using an EZ Bar for your curls, we highly recommend doing so, especially with reverse curls.
With the EZ Bar, you can also switch up between wide grip and narrow grip, which will work your biceps and forearms differently.
Dumbbell Reverse Curl
If you’ve read through any of our other blog posts, you’ll know that at Gunsmith Fitness, we’re big supporters of adding Unilateral Movements into your workout routine. This means actively training one side of the body at a time.
For example, the squat and bench press are examples of bilateral movements, as they work both limbs/sides of the body at the same time. While these are great exercises, unilateral movements are more challenging and can help build muscle faster while improving coordination.
By using dumbbells for your reverse curls, you’re adding a new level of complexity to the exercise. You won’t be able to rely on your stronger arm to pick up the slack from your weaker arm.
If you have any muscle imbalances, or a more dominant arm, you’re going to know as soon as you start using dumbbells for your reverse curls.
But this will also help to smooth out any imbalances, and get both arms up to the same level of strength.
Cable Reverse Bicep Curl
The great thing about cable curls is they can be done both bilaterally and unilaterally, depending on which attachment you use.
Cable curls also allow you to change the weight level quickly, as it’s usually just a matter of adjusting the pin that holds the weight stack. By using the cable machine, you also have a greater range of motion, so you can experiment with which angles work best for you and your arms.
Hopefully by the end of this article, we’ve convinced you of the benefits of adding some Reverse Curls into your workout routine.
The biggest benefit is obviously the targeting of your forearms, but the different grip will also build your biceps at the same time. Since we’re all about efficiency, why not work two muscle groups for the price of one?