Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Bicep Curls Won't Give You Nice Arms

If you've read more than a few of my posts, you know I'm a proponent of compound exercises for the majority of your strength training. Generally speaking, they're more functional, they're more efficient because they use multiple muscles at one time, and they burn more calories than isolation work.

Since most of my clients are time crunched and interested in fat loss and are not body builders or figure competitors, you'll find very few isolation exercises in my programs.

That said, I'll occasionally toss in some bicep curls. My mistake. :-) The other day I had my boot campers doing some dumbbell curls, which is rare; it was actually more of a break than anything. So what happens? One of my (relatively new) campers chirps in with something like, "I vote for more bicep curls in our workouts. You can really feel that burn."

It goes back to the belief that you can spot reduce or spot tone. People think if their inner thighs burn from leg lifts, they'll get smaller or that bicep curls will give them nice arms.

It doesn't help that we got a slew of "Get Michelle Obama Arms" articles after the president was elected. Unfortunately, many of them focused on arm isolation exercises and failed to acknowledge that most Americans are overweight.

The bottom line is that to get the look that most people want, you need to get rid of the fat covering your muscles. The key to fat loss is good nutrition and challenging workouts involving multi-joint movements. Leg lifts, tricep kickbacks and bicep curls won't cut it.

Most people like doing curls and there's nothing wrong with occasionally adding them to your workout if you have extra time but don't make it a habit. There are better ways to spend your exercise time if you want results.

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