Exercise #3 - Barbell Leverage Curls

The standard barbell curl is a great bicep exercise. So I'm going to turn it 90 degrees and make it even better! I find this exercise actually gives me better tension on the upper arm flexors than most standard curling exercises.

For this version of the barbell curl, you're going to be making use of a very different concept in resistance. You're going to be turning the barbell 90 degrees (like I mentioned above) and curling the barbell LENGTHWISE.

I'll explain in more detail about why it's so effective after you see exactly what it is. It'll make it easier to get the idea of why it's such a powerful concept.

First, get an EZ bar and load one end of it. The bends in the bar make it much easier on the wrist as you're doing this exercise...much more so than a straight bar.

You really don't need much weight - just a 5 or 10 lb plate will be fine for starters. The way you lift the weight is going to make that small amount feel like a whole lot more!


Here's a shot of me holding the bar loaded with one plate on the end. You know, I just realized this sure looks like a fishing trophy pose...just caught me a a 30 lb steelhead!

Right, so now, you're going to hold the bar lengthwise with one hand. Grip it just a bit past the center on the angled part. The rest of the bar will run directly up the back of your forearm. The loaded end should be down. The pictures show it better than I can explain it.

You'll need to experiment a bit with where you grip, but as you can see in the picture below, where I'm gripping on the bar is where it angles backward. This takes some of the pressure off the wrist as you're doing the exercise.

Now comes the fun part...start raising the loaded end of the barbell up with a curl motion. The length of the bar will press against the back of your forearm.

Keep curling all the way up as high as you can. It looks like very similar to reeling in a fish with a fishing pole (boy, I just keep beating the carp out of this fishing analogy, don't I? :)

If you need a little help, you can spot yourself with the other hand.

Here's what the exercise looks like with the other hand.

Now here's a view from a bit further back.

That's the movement!

Why It's So Good

This type of leverage training hits the muscles from a very different angle because of how you're applying leverage to the bar. You're basically making the barbell an extension of your arm, placing the resistance further out from the fulcrum (pivot point).

That means you can use less actual weight but still get more resistance.

Technically speaking, when you do a regular barbell curl, the fulcrum of the exercise is INSIDE the elbow joint. When you do THIS exercise, the fulcrum actually moves OUTSIDE the elbow joint. This fulcrum is where the barbell contacts the bottom of your forearm as you curl up.

Without going into too much anatomical and kinesiological detail, the bottom line is, using the barbell like this greatly changes how resistance is applied to the muscles and provides an excellent growth stimulus BECAUSE it's such a huge change in how the resistance is applied.

The other good thing about this exercise? At the top of the curl, the weight is still away from your body at an angle, and you still get tension even at the top of the range of motion!

Just be sure you don't whack somebody walking in front of you when you're doing this one at the gym...

On the other hand, it WOULD teach them a good lesson about walking in front of you while you're training...






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