We love all sorts of squats for building lower body strength, power, and size. But when we see an exercise that gives you a chance to torch your biceps at the same time, like this series from trainer Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S., we get seriously pumped—both figuratively and literally.
Here’s how Sklar does it: Holding the end of one heavy dumbbell with both hands, he lowers the weight until his forearms are parallel to the floor, then squats it out for 5 reps. Simple as that.
Those 5 reps might not sound like a lot to squat with only a single dumbbell, especially if you’re used to heavy loaded back squats or even goblet squats from a similar position. But if you try out this variation your biceps your core will feel the burn.
That’s because the dumbbell’s downward force tries to pull your torso forward and your arms down similarly to a Zercher squat. But, because your forearms are extended parallel to the floor (aim for a 90-degree angle with your upper arms), your biceps and core have to produce even more force to resist the dumbbell’s torque.
As an added benefit, it’s simpler to hold the dumbbell with your hands rather than hook it under your elbows, Zercher-style. Position your hands so that the end of the dumbbell rests flat against your palms, and keep your wrists locked the entire time to keep the focus on your biceps and prevent your forearms from gassing out early.
From this position, Sklar supersets the iso biceps squats with some curls. (He does 5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise, resting 30 seconds between sets.) You can mix up the cadence by performing the squats first, which builds up more tension in your biceps with the isometric hold, or begin with the curls, then challenging your arms to keep their position after the squats.
To get the most from each rep, keep your elbows tucked to your sides, arms parallel to the floor, core braced, and shoulders pinned down and back. For bigger, stronger arms and legs, keep on multitasking.