I’m setting up a biceps routine and wonder if standing or seated incline dumbbell curls are better. Or should I use both in my routine?
There’s hardly any one exercise that’s “better” than another. Every exercise hits your muscles in different ways, and each one can be of value to you. Think of them as separate, but equal.
When it comes to biceps training, this is especially true. Curls are pretty much the only thing you can do to build your biceps, but there are a number of variations of this movement. Those you choose to incorporate into your routine depend on your personal training goals.
Let’s assume (because you didn’t tell me) that your goal is to add a good deal of muscle. Maybe you’re even thinking that one day you’d like to step onto a bodybuilding stage (hey, it could happen!). In this case, I suggest you incorporate both standing and seated incline dumbbell curls into your biceps program. Here’s why.
Standing dumbbell curls are an excellent mass builder. You can go heavy with them. Although good form is always important in bodybuilding, you can get a little loose, if necessary, to move the big weights. Whether you choose to perform them one arm at a time or with both in unison is up to you. I used to do them single-arm, but today I like to do them with both arms simultaneously — like doing a barbell curl, but with the freedom of dumbbells.
Seated incline dumbbell curls are more for shape. They fill in the upper portion of your biceps and help make them look longer. That’s because you can get an excellent stretch at the bottom of the movement and a really good peak contraction at the top. It’s also a stricter movement than standing curls, so you don’t want to go as heavy as you would standing.
I consider the seated incline curl to be interchangeable with preacher curls. They’re performed at a similar angle, and both are excellent for stretching and developing the biceps along the complete line of the insertions. You might want to consider switching from one exercise to the other every few weeks.
While we’re at it, I might as well give you an entire biceps routine. Start with standing dumbbell curls and perform four sets of six to eight reps. I like using a lower rep range for this mass-building exercise. Then move on to seated incline dumbbell curls or preacher curls. Do four sets of 10 to 12 reps, keeping your rest between sets as short as possible — 30 seconds at most, if you can. From there, move on to concentration curls, which is a great movement for peaking the biceps. Again, four sets of 10 to 12 reps. Perform this last exercise only every other week. I believe it’s relatively easy to overtrain biceps, so eight total sets followed by 12 during alternate weeks is plenty.
I hope this routine is as successful for you as it was for me. Good luck! - FLEX