When you lift a set of dumbbells mindlessly, your arms aren’t going to get all the attention they need too grow. When you concentrate on your form, you unlock more gains than you’d have been getting with sloppy reps.
This focus on working with perfect form is an essential aspect of the programming Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. uses in the gym. That’s why his exercises center on strategic positions like the tall kneeling stance and principles like attentional focus to blow up his muscles.
This dumbbell curl series is a prime example of this form-first outlook. “This one is all about owning and perfecting that forearms-parallel-to-the-ground position,” says Samuel. “This is when your forearm lever is the most challenging in the biceps curl, and it’s a portion of the curl that most people rush through. By essentially starting and maintaining an iso hold in this position, you erase any chance of rushing through it, and you have to own the position, reinforcing strong mind-muscle connection.”
You’ll need a set of dumbbells to take on the perfect parallel curl series. If you need a good pair, check out this adjustable option from Bowflex.
- Stand (or kneel) holding a set of medium weight dumbbells. Squeeze your core and glutes to maintain proper positioning.
- Hold the dumbbells with a supinated (underhand) grip in a parallel to the ground position, essentially in a half-rep. Make sure both heads of the weight a completely parallel.
- Squeeze your biceps to perform a standard curl with one arm while maintaining the hold in parallel position with the other. Return to the halfway hold position after the rep.
- Repeat the movement with the other arm.
The key to all of this is staying balanced, since your position will affect your form. “That parallel-paused iso hold is also going to slow down your curling motion on the ‘working’ arm too,” Samuel says. “Maintaining that parallel pause properly will require a blend of core stability as well more mid-back and shoulder stability than you will initially expect, especially if you own the position. So take the curling rep slowly; your first obligation (and the part of this curl that’ll really rip your biceps) is the ownership of that iso-hold.”
Take on the perfect parallel curl series on an arm day for a biceps blast with 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps on each arm.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.