Think of a bicep curl and an image of a muscly, tank-topped guy clutching an oversized dumbbell in one arm might just spring to mind.
Well, I am not a muscly, tank-topped guy, however, I still wanted to undergo the 50 bicep curls a day for three weeks challenge.
Not familiar with a bicep curl? Let me enlighten you. This resistance-based exercise focuses on the bicep muscle, which runs along the front of your upper arm, from your shoulder to your elbow.
The bicep curl is best done with a dumbbell (check out the best adjustable dumbbells), or it can be done with a barbell, working both biceps simultaneously. I did my 50-bicep-curls-a-day challenge with a dumbbell.
The best biceps workouts will incorporate a mixture of moves to keep muscles under tension and to target various muscles for a more balanced, all-round appearance. but for the purpose of this experiment, I did my 50 curls and left it at that.
The rules of my challenge were simple. I did 50 bicep curls every day (25 on each arm) for three weeks.
This is what went down when I did 50 bicep curls every day for three weeks…
1. Push-ups became easier
I might be a personal trainer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with certain exercises. Push-ups are one such exercise; honestly, I find it easier to whack out a 21km run than dropping down and doing 10 push-ups.
However, doing 50 bicep curls every day made the world of difference to my push-up game.
I found this out during an exercise class where we were asked to do 20 squats, 15 push-ups, and 10 burpees (yeah, my life is fun). When it came to the push-ups, instead of dropping down to my knees after two reps, I was going all-out and doing 10 proper push-ups.
It makes sense; after all, biceps are involved in push-ups, but the difference I noticed was staggering.
2. Chin-ups were also less challenging
I am by no means a chin-up pro, but stronger biceps has certainly helped me rely a little less on resistance bands when performing this exercise. PT extraordinaire Bret Contreras actually did an experiment on exercises that triggered the most bicep activation and chin-ups actually came out as one of the winners. So, it’s no surprise that my 50 bicep curls helped with chin-ups too.
3. My biceps became more defined
Perhaps an obvious one, but 50 bicep curls every day certainly helped to make my biceps ‘pop’. I do factor in upper body workouts to my weekly routine, but I’ll be honest, I am a bit slack with them. So, being forced to stick to 50 biceps curls each day has convinced me to stick to my arm workouts as the results are impressive.
Of course, it’s not all about aesthetics, but I do quite like my arms in a strappy top right now…
4. Wrist pain is a thing
Although the majority of my bicep curls were standard bicep curls, I did also incorporate hammer curls. These involve holding the dumbbell at a slightly different angle; rather than palms facing forward, palms face inwards.
This type of curl certainly gave my wrist flexors a bit more of a seeing to, and I did have to stop a couple of times to shake my wrists and hands out.
If you experience something similar, wrist curls can be a great exercise to strengthen the wrist muscles. Holding a lighter dumbbell, sit down and rest the forearm on your quads. Curl the dumbbell up using just the forearm muscles, then lower back down. It’s a small movement, but an impactful one.
Bicep curls for 50 days challenge: My verdict
Some challenges fall flat on their face, but not this one. I really enjoyed this bicep curls experiment as it’s reinstated my love for training the upper body, and also further confirmed how training certain muscles can help with a wealth of other moves.
Push-ups and chin-ups are my prime examples.
If I was to do this again, I’d opt for 100 curls on each arm.
Why, I hear you ask!?
Well, it could potentially lead to even greater improvements in my chin-ups (a move that I’ve always wanted to master) plus, I really like the feeling of strong biceps.
Want to make your bicep curl a little harder? Try sitting down on a bench as you curl so that your lower body can’t take any of the pressure.
Plus, the tempo at which you curl will play a huge role in the efficiency of the exercise. Move slowly; take several seconds to bring the dumbbell up and several more seconds to lower it back down.
I would also recommend ensuring that you target various muscles in the upper body rather than just the biceps, so that you’re not left with an imbalance, which can potentially lead to injury.
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Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun.
She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.
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