Mastering the Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl Technique

Building strong, defined biceps isn’t just about doing traditional curls. There are a variety of ways to train the biceps, with one of the most effective yet often overlooked being the Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl. This exercise not only challenges the standard bicep curl but targets additional muscles, making it a comprehensive workout for your upper arms. In this piece, we will aim to understand the core principles of bicep curls, demystify the technique of behind-the-back bicep curls, identify common mistakes, and delve into practical application and continuous betterment.

Understanding the basics of bicep curls

Understanding Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are one of the most basic and effective exercises for strengthening the biceps, the large muscle at the front of the upper arm. These curls also work your brachialis, a muscle that lies underneath your biceps brachii. This movement helps to build muscle size and strength.

Correct Form and Posture

When performing a bicep curl, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your arms straight down at your sides. The palms of your hands should be facing forward. This is your starting position. Holding a weight in each hand, curl the weights while contracting your biceps. Keep your upper arms still, moving only your forearms. Continue to raise the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the weights are at shoulder level. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps. Then, gradually lower the weights back to the starting position.

Movement’s Range

The movement’s range in bicep curls is fairly straightforward. You start with your arms fully extended at your sides, and then you curl your arms up to your shoulders. The key is to maintain control during both the lifting and lowering stages of the exercise. In other words, don’t let gravity do the work.

Common Mistakes in Performing Bicep Curls

One common error is using the back and shoulders too much in the curl. Avoid leaning back or using your shoulders to help lift the weights. All the work should be done by the biceps and forearms. Using momentum or performing the exercise too quickly can also lead to less effective results and potentially injure you. Avoid swinging the weights and perform each repetition with a slow, controlled movement.

Behind-the-Back Bicep Curl

Now that the basics of the bicep curl are understood, we can move on to a more advanced variation, the behind-the-back bicep curl. This exercise is performed in a similar way to the standard bicep curl but with your hands behind your back. This adjustment places the biceps under constant tension and increases the range of motion. It also takes your shoulders out of the equation, forcing your biceps to work even harder.

To perform a behind-the-back bicep curl, begin by standing tall with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms fully extended behind your back. Your palms should be facing away from your body. Not letting your elbows move, curl the weights as far as you comfortably can. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. Be cautious to not overstretch or strain your shoulders in this position.

Illustration of a person doing bicep curls with dumbbells

Introduction to Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl

Understanding Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl

The Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl (BTBC) is a weight training exercise that targets the biceps and, to a lesser extent, the forearms. Unlike traditional bicep curls, the BTBC is performed with the arms behind your body, hence its name. This shift in position changes the focus of the exercise from solely the biceps brachii (the two-headed muscle that makes up most of the upper arm) to include other muscles on the arm and shoulder girdle. Specifically, the BTBC works on the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles, which help flex the elbow joint, and the deltoids, which surround your shoulder and aid in lifting your arm.

Technique of Performing Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl

To effectively perform a BTBC, start by standing tall and holding a barbell in both hands behind your back. Your palms should face away from your body and your feet should be positioned shoulder-width apart. Curl the barbell by flexing at your elbows until your hands reach your buttocks. Ensure your upper arm remains stationary as you perform the curl and only your forearms move. Pause for a moment, fully flexing at the top of the curl, before carefully controlling the barbell back to the starting position.

The Distinction from Traditional Bicep Curl

What sets the BTBC apart from traditional bicep curls is primarily the shift in exercising position, from a frontal curl to a rear one. This shift allows for a deeper range of motion, making the curl more challenging and engaging for your muscles. Additionally, it places less stress on your wrists and forearms compared to traditional curls, which makes it a great alternative for people with wrist issues.

Unique Benefits of Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl

Because the BTBC engages a wider variety of muscles than traditional curls, it can produce a more balanced arm muscle growth and strength. It also focuses on promoting the enhanced development of the biceps peak or the bulge seen when flexing the biceps. Another important benefit of this exercise variation is that it helps correct posture. As you perform the BTBC, your shoulder blades retract, and your chest opens up, encouraging a more upright posture. This exercise can also aid those suffering from muscle imbalances, as it necessitates an even distribution of effort from both arms. If one arm is weaker, it cannot be compensated for by the other, as is often the case in traditional curls.

Illustration of a person performing the Behind-The-Back Bicep Curl exercise

Practical Application and Improvement

Choosing the Right Equipment

Before starting, ensure you have the right equipment. This exercise requires dumbbells of various weights. Start with a lighter weight to ensure you can master the technique safely, aiming for 5 to 10 pounds each. Once you are comfortable with the weight, you can gradually increase it to keep your muscles challenged.

Proper Positioning

Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbell with both hands behind your back, directly below your waist. Your hands should be facing out, with your knuckles pointing toward the floor. This will be your starting position.

Executing the Curl

Keep your elbows still and close to your torso. Slowly curl the weight upward towards your lower back, squeezing your biceps at the top, while keeping your back straight and your eyes forward. This should be done without moving your elbows or shoulders, using just your biceps to lift the weight.

Maintaining Control

Lower the dumbbell slowly back to the starting position. It’s important not to rush this part of the exercise. Controlling the weight on the way down works your muscles just as hard as lifting it, and also helps prevent injury. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions.

Gradually Increasing the Load

Once you’ve mastered the technique with a lighter weight, you can start increasing the load. Add more weight gradually, giving your muscles time to adjust and develop. Too much weight too soon can lead to poor form and possible injury.

Tracking Your Progress

It’s important to track your progress as you perform behind-the-back bicep curls. Take note of the weight you’re using and the number of repetitions and sets you can complete. You can also record yourself performing the exercise to review your form.

Adjusting and Improving

Review your form in your recordings to ensure you are executing the behind-the-back bicep curl correctly and safely. If you notice any deviations from the correct form, make the necessary adjustments. This may involve lowering the weight or adjusting your grip or stance. The key is to practice regularly and gradually push yourself to improve.

An image demonstrating the proper form for a behind-the-back bicep curl exercise.

Mastering the behind-the-back bicep curl is a fitness milestone, the attainment of which requires understanding the mechanism, efficiency, and deliberate practice. It’s crucial to ensure that you start with lighter weights, get the technique right, and gradually increase the load only when you’re comfortable. Careful review and correction of form is as vital as executing the exercise. Once integrated into your routine, behind-the-back bicep curls can significantly enhance your overall upper arm strength and muscle definition, yielding remarkable results.