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How to do bicep curls properly to avoid wrist pain and other bicep conditions

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

The biceps or bicep brachii is one part of the major muscle groups that many gym enthusiasts are eager to tone and strengthen. It is a large prominent muscle located on the front side of the upper arm. The bicep functions as a support to stabilise the stronger brachialis muscle, which is the primary flexor of the elbow, when you lift or lower your forearm.

The biceps, along with the triceps, belong to the antagonistic muscle pairs. Our muscles can only pull and need to work with a pair in opposite directions to move the body part. The antagonist muscle relaxes or lengthens while the primary muscle, called the agonist's muscle, contracts to perform the activity. Both muscle types are also responsible for the movement of the bones.

So which one is the agonist and the antagonist? Let’s use the bicep curls as a scenario. The biceps contract to perform the movement. Therefore, it is the agonist's muscle. The triceps are the antagonist muscle because it relaxes to allow the movement to happen.

Bicep conditions

Speaking of bicep curls, lifters performing the bicep curls may experience pain in the wrist and forearms that could potentially lead to an injury. This is called the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex, which happens not only to individuals who exercise and lift barbells but also to tennis players, golfers, and workers doing construction and mechanics.

A triangular Fibrocartilage Complex happens when the cartilage and ligaments are stressed, especially when lifting heavy objects. Individuals using barbells on bicep curls compress the wrist joints, which may cause pain. Another bicep condition is bicep tendinopathy, which develops when doing repetitive activities or the result of physical trauma. Bicep tendinopathy occurs when there is inflammation in the tendons around the bicep muscles.

Other common conditions affecting the biceps include bicep strain and tendon tears and ruptures. Bicep strain is the result of a pulled bicep because of overstretching. Partial or complete tendon tears and ruptures have different classifications. It may happen because of repetitive use or due to the degeneration of the tendons as we grow older. Always consult with a doctor for medical assessment. Serious conditions may lead to surgery or physical therapy.

Top tips to properly do bicep curls

Bicep curls, also known as arm curls, is a weight training exercise that is focused on the upper and lower arms. This exercise primarily targets the biceps as well as the elusive muscles such as the brachialis and brachioradialis, which is the muscle that connects the upper arm to the forearm.

The proper form in doing bicep curls is by engaging your abdominal muscles or core, and bending the knees slightly while maintaining an upright position with your feet hip-width apart. When lifting a dumbbell or barbell, the general rule is that you can do 8 to 12 reps without losing your form and becoming fatigued.

When doing the bicep curls while standing, don’t lean forward and sway. Instead, keep your shoulders pulled back over your torso. Allow your biceps to “breathe” by slightly moving your hands in front of your torso to keep your elbows in front of your shoulders.

When sitting or on your knee, place your back against the wall while your elbows are pressed against your sides. Remember to only lift your forearms with dumbbells and not your entire arm. Your lower body should only be in one place while doing this exercise. Do not move your hips from side to side.

Bicep curls in EMS training

Bicep curls can also be done in EMS training. Electrical muscle stimulation can help you perform bicep curls to its optimum level without overstressing your biceps, forearms and wrist. According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Bioengineering Research, using EMS in biceps workouts increased strength in the biceps of the volunteers after two weeks of training.

, In EMS training, the biceps are part of the specific muscle groups targeted for electrical stimulation. The electrode pads on the EMS training suit are strategically placed in the targeted muscles to help them contract. Aside from bicep curls, you can also do lateral lifts and tricep kickbacks to tone your arm muscles while in EMS training.

Volt Fitness is a luxury EMS studio in Melbourne that offers short, intensive training sessions with maximum efficiency and sustainable results in a feel-good atmosphere. 20 minutes at Volt Fitness are as good as 4 hours of sweating it out at a traditional gym.

Ready to start working on your fitness goals? Take a look at our training options or chat with us on (03) 8393 5131.

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