Q: I’m a big believer in your Positions-of-Flexion workouts. I have gotten more growth with that [three-exercise approach] than with anything I’ve tried. One exercise I often have a problem with is incline curls [the stretch move for biceps]. Is there a substitute?
A: Thanks for the POF props. A lot of trainees find the simplified three-way full-range approach a logical way to build more size and muscle fullness. It’s an efficient method of training a muscle completely with just a few moves. You get muscle synergy, stretch overload, continuous tension and occlusion and anabolic hormone release as well as full-range fiber activation.
As for your question, there is no other curling exercise that has you start the action with your upper arm angled down from and behind your torso. When your arm is straight in that position, the biceps is stretched over the shoulder joint, so it’s elongated for unique fiber activation and anabolic stress. Here are a few tips to make incline curls more effective:
1) Try different bench angles. The lower you set the incline, the more stretch you will get; however, too low and you can put too much stress on the shoulder joint. Try lower angles and higher angles to see what feels best—just be careful and don’t jerk or heave the ’bells to get them moving.
2) Wedge your elbows. Some trainees don’t feel the exercise because their elbows are free to move. If the bench you use is wide, you can angle your forearms out and use the sides as elbow supports. If that’s not possible, you could have your partner use his or her hands to keep your elbows stationary.
3) Keep your upper arms still. A lot of trainees allow their upper arms to drift forward as they curl. That decreases biceps tension and activates the front-delt heads. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor throughout the set, and only curl the dumbbells to the point at which your elbows are bent slightly above 90 degrees.
4) Curl with your palms facing forward. If you allow your palms to turn inward, you relieve stretch on the biceps at the bottom.
5) Cock your wrists back as you curl. In other words, as the ’bells are moving up, allow a break in your wrists so your hands are angled back toward the floor.
For those unfamiliar with POF, a full-range biceps routine is standing curls (midrange), incline curls (stretch) and concentration curls (contracted). [Note: For other POF bodypart routines as well as complete workout programs, see the official POF mass-building manual, 3D Muscle Building, available at the X-Shop at X-Rep.com.]
Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections in this issue. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM