The longer I train, the more I realize that even what you might normally think of as a basic exercise can be done MUCH more effectively with some very simple changes!
The Incline Dumbell Curl is the example of this that I'd like to share with you here. The Incline Curl is one of THE most effective bicep-building exercises you can do. It puts a great stretch on the biceps at the bottom and can be a key exercise for major muscle growth.
And the standard way of setting up and performing the Incline Curl is just fine! There's nothing inherently wrong with lying back on an incline bench, letting your arms hang down beside you then curling the dumbells up to the top position.
This "normal" way of doing the Incline Curl is very effective and time-tested. But you're NOT reading this article because you want to settle for "normal" results!
So here's the simple technique for maximizing the results you get with the Incline Curl...
You're NOT going to sit on the seat of the incline bench as you normally would. First, pick up your dumbells and straddle the incline bench. In that standing position, move your butt all the way back onto the bench. Sit on the incline face of the bench then set your FEET on the seat of the bench (knees bent).
The top end of the bench should hit you just below the shoulder blades. Now arch your back over the top end of the bench as though you were trying to wrap your back over and around the bench end. Turn your palms forward and keep them facing forward throughout the exercise for best results.
In this bottom position, you should feel an increased stretch on the biceps beyond what you normally get with the Incline Curl.
The reason this position results in an increased stretch on the biceps lies in the positioning of the chest and shoulders. The biceps attach in the shoulder joint. When you're in the standard position on the incline bench, your shoulders are braced on the bench and you can't fully open up your chest.
You do get a good stretch but it's not a MAXIMUM stretch, which is the key to massive results with this exercise!
When your shoulders are up and off the top end of the bench, the weight of the dumbells pulls your shoulders back and down, opening up the chest and increasing the stretch on the biceps at the bottom.
Perform the exercise as you normally would an Incline Dumbell Curl. Start the movement with a deliberate squeeze of the biceps, curl all the way up to the top, doing your best to keep the upper arms vertical (they may move up and forward a bit). Hold for a second at the top.
Now comes the payoff...on the way back down, DO NOT let your palms turn inwards. Keep them facing FORWARD all the way down to the bottom. This keeps full tension on the biceps all the way to the bottom, which is the most beneficial part of the exercise.
Lower the dumbells under complete control. For an extra shot of tension, try to "push" your elbows forward as you lower the dumbells.
To do this, imagine as though you're trying to push a button with your bicep - it takes a bit of practice to get this feeling but it's definitely worth persuing.
As you lower the dumbells to the very bottom, let them pull and stretch your shoulders backwards and down, opening up the chest.
This increased tension from the negative portion of the movement coupled with the greater stretch potential of your body position will give you an incredible muscle-building stimulus. Take advantage of it and don't lose the stretch tension in your biceps!
Feel for that stretch then curl up again with a deliberate movement. When you go to choose weights for this exercise, start with weights that are lighter than you would normally use. When you apply stretch and tension to the biceps like this, it's a humbling experience in terms of the amout of weight you can use.
But it is definitely a growing experience!!
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of BetterU, Inc. and has been inventing new training techniques and exercises for 17+ years. Nick has written many training books including "Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass" & "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss" - http://www.fitness-ebooks.com