Biomechanical Perfection: incline Dumbbell Curl

Biomechanical Perfection: incline Dumbbell Curl
Incline dumbbell curl - starting position (Photography by Ralph Dehaan)
Biomechanical Perfection: incline Dumbbell Curl
Incline dumbbell curl - ending position (Photography by Ralph Dehaan)

The Incline Dumbbell Curl is an exercise that if performed properly can build bulging biceps you have always dreamed of. It is the balance between a compound and isolation exercise that allows the muscle to be activated fully in both heads of the bicep. It was a favorite of 6-times Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates and is used today by many professional bodybuilders to continue adding inches to their arms. Follow the guidelines below to learn how to master this exercise and begin building head-turning mountainous biceps. As with any exercise start with a light weight and warm up thoroughly. Allow the movement to flow easily and comfortably for the joints and muscles. If anything feels uncomfortable or painful this exercise may not be the best suited for your natural biomechanics and consider other bicep building exercises to reach your goals.

Starting position
• Set a free bench on an incline angle of approximately 60 degrees
• Seated on the bench, plant legs firmly on the ground for stability
• Protect the spine by placing the lower, middle and upper back firmly against the back of the bench and keeping the abdominals engaged
• Protect the rotator cuff by keeping shoulders retracted back and depressed down towards the floor
• Face and neck remain relaxed
• Hands hold the dumbbells at the sides of the body with palms facing inward

Ending position
• Hands externally rotate, engaging the bicep to hold the weight
• Abdominals remain engaged
• Biceps flex to move weight upwards
• Elbows squeeze inward towards sides
• Shoulders remain retracted back and depressed down to keep tension on the bicep
• Without flexing wrists, dumbbells raise to create an angle of approximately 45 degrees between upper forearm and biceps
• Pause with weight in fully contracted position for 2 seconds to feel the flexation of the biceps, increasing activation
• Return back to starting position by lowering the weight in a controlled manner, taking up to 3 seconds and feeling the tension on the biceps the entire time.

Common Mistakes
• Moving the shoulders forward and upward to assist in completing the movement, creating strain on the rotator cuff, allowing injury and taking tension away from the bicep
• Not fully externally rotating the wrists, which decreases total tension and activation on the bicep
• Moving the elbows forward, transferring tension from the biceps to the front deltoid
• Moving the elbows backward, which limits maximum contraction and stimulation of the bicep
• Letting the legs and feet shake, causing the foundation of the body to become weaker
• Not keeping the abdominals engaged and arching the lower back, increasing chance for spinal injury and decreases core strength and development

Sample Bicep Routine
Exercise: Incline Dumbbell Curl
Train the biceps every 3 – 4 days for maximum growth and development by utilizing the following two workout programs below.




Rest Between Sets




12 - 15


Performed very controlled, holding each contraction for 2 seconds


6 – 8




3 - 5


Performed very controlled, holding each contraction for 2 seconds


20 – 30


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