Plateaus are as much a part of the natural order of things as the sunrise and sunset (they just suck a lot more). We all have periods of stagnation, when the best we can do is maintain. That doesn’t mean you have to like it. And sometimes, it doesn’t even take that much to snap out of it.
Try these four classic exercises and apply the tweaks we explain in the exercise descriptions. These minor changes are enough to keep your muscle fibers guessing, and when your body’s guessing, it responds by growing.
Flip the script on the preacher bench. Load an EZ-curl bar and turn to face the seat of the bench. Rest your elbows on the flat portion of the pad. When you extend your arms, they should be straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor.
The preacher bench is now effectively a spider-curl bench. Perform controlled curls, alternating wide and narrow grips on each set.
Take a very wide grip, almost like an underhand snatch grip. You’ll notice that when you curl the weight all the way up, the extra-wide
grip emphasizes the inside portion of the biceps, as well as the muscle’s insertion point near the shoulder. Check your ego when
you load the bar; you’ll need to lighten the weight compared with what you’d use for a standard barbell curl.
Choke your hands all the way down on the dumbbells so that your pinkies touch the bottom plate. As you curl up, the dumbbells are going to try to turn out, stimulating stabilizing muscle fibers in the biceps that might not see any action during the standard variation. Do reps one or two arms at a time.
The tension provided by a cable station is a terrific stimulus for growth—and cables with an EZ-curl attachment and a reverse grip are
the perfect finisher. As you do your curls, keep your elbows at your sides; imagine they’re bolted in place. This will keep the emphasis
where it belongs. Alternate wide and narrow grips on each set.