As the Deadlift is the king of compound exercises, the barbell curl is the king of single joint, isolation type exercises.
Have you ever noticed in a commercial gym, people stand there doing Barbell Curls with an extremely strict fashion: Elbows staying at the side of the hips, torso not swinging at all, and the barbell moving in a complete, steady controlled manner. But this is how we’ve been taught! I love isolation exercises, but I don’t think isolation exercises should exclude the rest of the body. I believe that the only reason one should isolate the muscle completely is if you’ve had an injury and you isolate the injured muscle from the working muscles. Your body is a unit and should work as this. What I mean is slight cheating while doing isolation exercises is essential for overall fitness and strength. I don’t mean to adopt bad form which could cause injuries.
Forget extreme strict form which can limit the development of the muscle worked and of ancillary muscles groups.
Over emphasising strict form limits the amount of weight lifted, yet heavier weights with reasonable form and full range of motion is what stimulates development and fitness.
The Curl, with a cheat.
Maximise your weight and hence stimulation using a slight cheat.
- Load an Olympic bar with enough weight to reach six to twelve reps.
- Grasp the bar shoulder width apart and stand up.
- Lean slightly forward so that you can use your hips to push start the bar.
- Push the bar out with your hips. Keep this push momentum by curling up quickly. Lean back slightly to help the biceps at the end of the movement and end at your chin..
- Set your back perpendicular to the ground again, and lower slower making full use of the eccentric phase for stimulation.
What do you guys think? Give it a try. I would like to emphasise: slight reprieves of form is good, but not a kamikaze approach to exercise form. Safety and longevity must be the priority.