Sometimes, you have a half-hour of longer to really annihilate your arms in the gym, crushing them with exercise after exercise to stimulate growth. But sometimes, you just need a sleeve-busting biceps pump in 10 minutes.
That’s where this lightspeed curling sequence, the incline bench biceps blowup, comes in. Built by Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. it’s essentially a spider-curl angle-switching mechanical dropset. With a pair of dumbbells and an incline bench, you’ll manage to hit your arms from multiple angles, key to getting a good biceps workout. But you’ll do it in a structure that lets you fit a ton of pump work into a mere 10 minutes. “One of the keys to varying up your biceps movements is changing the angle of your upper arm relative to torso; the farther you start a curl from it, the harder it generally is to cheat,” says Samuel. “Using an incline bench, we’re going to start with reps far from our torso, then gradually shift closer and closer, adjusting the tax on our biceps slightly but still getting plenty of work.”
It’s a vicious blend that gets a lot of work into a short time. You’ll need a pair of dumbbells and an adjustable incline bench to make this happen; if you’re looking for home dumbbells, consider this pair from Bowflex.
- Start with the incline bench set to about 45 degrees, usually one of the middle settings on your bench. Set up in spider curl position, chest just off the bench, back muscles tight and shoulder blades squeezed, abs tight. Hold the dumbbells so your arms are perpendicular to the floor, using a supinated (underhand) grip. Moving only at the elbow, curl up, then lower; do 8 to 10 reps.
- Immediately drop the dumbbells, get off the bench, and move the bench up to a higher incline, ideally something around 60 degrees. Reset on the bench, again keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the ground; do 8 to 10 more curls.
- Get off the bench. Kneel with the dumbbells, arms held at your sides. Do 8 to 10 alternating curl reps. Rest for 2 minutes, then repeat for 3 sets.
The key to the sequence, says Samuel, is positioning. “We’re essentially doing what’s called a mechanical dropset,” says Samuel. “The first curl is the most strict, a classic spider curl. Then we shift to a higher incline and it gets a bit easier. At the end, you finish with kneeling curls, inviting some supination to help you when you’re fatigued.”
Samuel adds that you shouldn’t use a super-heavy weight for this. Keep it light and controllable. “Go too heavy,” he says, “and you won’t last.”
Use the incline bench biceps blowup as a standalone biceps workout when you’re in a pinch, but know that it can be more than that, too. “It’s a perfect finisher,” says Samuel, “to a more vicious biceps workout.” Because you can never get enough biceps work.
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.
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