An Exercise Better Than Curls For Biceps

Who wouldn’t want better looking biceps, whether you wish they were stronger or simply looked bigger and more toned. Bicep curls are easily one of the most over-used exercises when it comes to the gym and arm days, but what if we said there was an exercise that will give you slightly better results over your traditional barbell curls that many people will never do on an arm day…


What is EMG? Electromyography (EMG) is widely used to measure muscle activation during both isometric and dynamic actions and provides valuable information about the neural control of movement on exercises. Simply put, an EMG test shows how much of a specific muscle group is stimulated from different exercises or movements.

So what exercise beats barbell curls for growing biceps?

Let’s cut right to the chase here…it’s chin ups. That’s right, one of the most popular back day exercises is actually tremendous at building your biceps. The chin up grip is when your palms face backwards with a slightly closer grip on the pull up bar, as a posed to the stereotypical overhand grip which targets more of the back muscles. EMG studies showed that the mean EMG activation of the biceps with the chin-up is 107, while that stands at 90-95 for the bicep curl. As always though, your ability to perform the exercise under control is what matters.

..But I can’t do chin ups??

There’s always progressional exercises with anything in the gym that will lead you up to the bigger harder ones. For example if you can’t do full chin ups, controlling the downward phase too…try adding resistance bands to the pull-up to work as an assist, or even use a pull-up assist machine…gradually reducing the weight on the machine over the weeks until you’re pulling your full body weight. You can even do chin ups underneath a smith machine bar with your feet flat on the floor. The finally you have the last pulldown as probably the easiest example of this….simply use an underhand chin up grip instead of overhand and focus on pulling with your biceps.

So there you have it…an exercise most wouldn’t normally associate with an arm day, but we guarantee you’ll like the end result!


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