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Bicep Curls Gone Bad (BIG MISTAKE!!)

Bicep Curls Gone Bad (BIG MISTAKE!!)

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today we’re going to cover one of the biggest
bicep training mistakes that you can make. It’s really, really big because the fine line
that we walk between making this a big mistake, and something that you actually need to do
to get better results in your biceps is like that. You see, this is what we’re talking about. It’s the contribution of the front delt to
bicep exercises. The fact of the matter is, you need the front
delt to help you for a very short period of time. If you get anything beyond that though it
becomes a major mistake. Let me explain what we’re talking about. If I were to take this dumbbell – I’ll come
a little bit closer here – you can see exactly what we’re talking about. We know that as we curl the dumbbell up we’re
going to get some contribution here of the shoulder. But how much, is what really determines whether
or not this is something that you’re doing majorly wrong, or actually doing it right. If I start to curl – and I’ll back off so
you can see this – but right here you can see in the first few degrees of the curl that
I’ve got my front delt activating. I’ll do that again. Resting, first few degrees. Resting, I start curling. Look at the activation of the front delt. What’s happening here is it’s stabilizing
the upper arm bone – the humerus – so that I have more leverage for the biceps to
work off, and then perform the curl with maximum strength. If I had no stabilization first it’s sort
of like that analogy of trying to jump as high as you can off the sand. Because the sand is moving and dissipating
while you’re trying to jump off it you’ll never be able to jump as high, or as much
force as you could off a nice, sturdy surface here like this hard ground. So, the same thing happens here. This front delt provides that stability, that
stable surface that we can then curl off of and do so with much more strength and let
the bicep actually do the work that it should. The danger comes in when we allow it to happen
for a little bit longer than that. Not just in the first couple degrees, but
for the first half of the exercise because now the front delt is taking over the movement. The bicep is not even doing anything because
the elbow angle isn’t closing down at all. The bicep flexes the elbow. Meaning this has to close down like that. That has to happen. If I hold this here and I lift with this,
nothing changed. This angle didn’t change at all. I’m just using my front delt to lift and what
happens is I get to the top here, and I lurch my body forward, which brings me closer to
the dumbbell, making me think that I actually curled this dumbbell up. Now, two problems with that. The first is the strength curve. We know that the hardest part of a bicep curl
– it should be – is right here in the middle. If my elbow is held at my side here, right
here at the middle is the hardest part. But if my elbow is forward like that, this
is no longer the hardest part of the curl. Right? Look at the elbow. The elbow is at 90 degrees here. If I bring my elbow forward my elbow is still
bent at 90 degrees, but it’s hard because gravity isn’t acting straight, perpendicular
here to my forearm like it is here. It’s even hard for me to hold that. So we’ve changed the strength curve. We’ve made the biceps not even work as much
as they should. Look at Jessie here. We did this video a few weeks back about the
bicep pump, an inch on the arms. Well, Jessie said he could do 40lbs. he runs
to the 40 pounders and then proceeds to swing them all over the damn place despite me telling
him “Jessie, stop the swaying. Stop the swaying.” But look, we’ve all made the mistake. The fact is when you’re looking for a pump
you can get away with a lot of shit that you couldn’t necessarily get away with when you’re
really trying to control and activate the biceps as much as possible. But look what’s happening. I showed you – and as we look at him in
slow motion here – the angle of the elbow is not closing for him. It’s not getting any shorter. What he’s doing is he’s locking that elbow
out and then swinging with the front delt. Basically doing a front delt raise. He’s not working the biceps. Then when he gets toward the top, because
he’s leaning back, he lurches forward, gets his body closer to the dumbbell, makes it
look like he flexed his elbow there, but really, the biceps did none of the work. So you have to ask yourself: “Are you doing
this, too?” If you are, then you are likely not getting
the growth at all – and I’m not surprised – out of your biceps that you should. If you want to do this you’ve got two options. The first thing is you grab a much lighter
dumbbell because with the lighter weight, maybe now you don’t have to rely on the
front delt to lift it up. You can rely on the front delt just stabilizing
for the first couple degrees, keeping the elbow close to your side, and then letting
the bicep power up the whole rest of the way. So from here, bicep, powers it up the whole
rest of the way. The second thing you’re doing here is you’re
allowing your body to load the bicep properly and in the right sequence. We have the flexion happening under maximum
load, we have supination happening under maximum load, and then when we get to the top, now
you can actually get a little bit more flexion. We talked about how you can actually elevate
your arm a little bit at the end – not at the beginning – at the very end because
that will actually give you a complete contraction in the long head of the biceps because we
know that can flex the shoulder, too. But there’s a big difference in doing it in
the beginning, versus doing it strictly and doing it at the and for the last few degrees. If you still cannot master these, even understanding
what it is you’re doing wrong then you have two other options. Here’s what you do: do the no money curl like
I’m showing you here. What this does is it takes the dumbbells out
of the sagittal plane – front and back – and puts them more into the frontal plane. You’re still getting the elbows to flex and
do what they’re supposed to do. You still get the supination to do what it’s
supposed to do to get the biceps to work, but you’re turning off the front delts a lot
by putting your elbows into your sides and those dumbbells out to your sides, and more
on this frontal plane, which allows you to minimize that delt contribution. The second thing you can do, as I’m showing
you here, is a drag curl. The drag curl, again, does something unique. What it does is it changes the strength curve
because it’s not hardest anymore in the middle. It’s hardest at the top here of the range
of motion. But what it’s also doing is, because the arm
isn’t coming out away from the body it’s not asking for the front delt to work. It’s literally allowing the bicep to flex
as I keep the front delt mostly out of the move. So I pull up, and I curl from here. Pull up, and curl from here. Again, I shut the front delt out. So if you’re somebody that does not see results
from your workouts – your bicep workouts in particular – be careful because this
is the thing that you’re probably doing wrong. The most important thing you can do is, either
lighten the weights, and then be conscious of what I just taught you here and you should
see results. If you still don’t then start switching
to those other two exercises for a while until you can build a better mind-muscle connection
by keeping the front delts out of it. All right, guys. I hope you’ve found this video helpful. If you did, make sure you leave your comments
and thumbs up below. In the meantime, if you’re looking to see
anything on this channel, you want me to cover something that you’re not quite clear on,
make sure you leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to do that for you in the
days and weeks ahead. Our complete ATHLEANX training system puts
the science back in strength in everything we do. We give you the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’. I think that’s what makes it so valuable. Head over to and get that right
now. In the meantime, I’ll be back here again in
just a couple days.

74 thoughts on “Bicep Curls Gone Bad (BIG MISTAKE!!)”

  1. I feel like there needs to be a “Jesse appreciation” video. Dude gets shit on waaay to much. Love you Jesse keep up the great editing work!

  2. This habit comes from seeing bodybuilders do it in their training videos. Look at the likes of Arnold or Ferigno swinging weight around. They could get away with it because of their stacks.

  3. I really appreciate all these videos bc I used to do these before in the past. But ever since I started to watch the “mistake” videos when I started weightlifting again, I’ve definitely been able to see WAY more progress than I ever did in the past. Thanks Jeff!

  4. usually when it gets hard I pull my elbows further back and bend my elbow. I find it much easier like this but what musle am I using to help me?

  5. Nice job in explaining how it works, again thank you Jesse for showing us our mistakes because we do it exactly like you…lol!

  6. I really think he does everything with his shirt off, shopping , driving, going to the fucking mall, dmv. Whatever Jeff, ur awesome I guess

  7. I have found that it highly useful (physically demonstrative) to take a small barbell (say 20 lbs) and then stand with heels, butt, back, shoulders, head, against a wall, if only as a demonstration of how much one might learn about how one leans in posture or swing the arms during the curling movement. Thanks for all your efforts, Jeff.

  8. Did ultimate curl workout, found on incline curls my left front delt started to hurt, lowered weight and finished out reps, found this video the next day. Thanks for explaining this, looking foward to my next bicep workout

  9. I'm too lazy to stand so I sit in my computer chair, lean forward and drive my elbow into my leg and lift…I guess half assing it pays off!

  10. Can you hurt your rotator cuff by excess delt activation? It seems that my rotator cuff becomes sore sometime, wondering if its my form.

  11. Been watching your videos you're a great teacher. Not a lot of teachers can get through to me but you do. Love what you do

  12. Hey jeff do you have any advice for good fat burning and muscle building exercises for someone whose has back surgery… 6 ruptured discs and 2 compression fractures …..would love to see something on that for those of us who cant do regularly exercises….i love your videos man you do amazing stuff giving all this advice basically for free….its helped me alot

  13. I am doing AX-1 and I have a question. My right bicep and tricep are embarrassingly smaller than my left and the peak looks off as well on the bicep. Are there any tips to bring it up to par with the left side? I hope my question makes sense.

  14. First off, THANK YOU Jeff!!! At 55 I’ve been working out for 40 years. I’ve been reading muscle magazines and the etc… I’ve been watching Jeff’s video for. A little over 3 months. I’ve learned more in those 3 months than in my entire 40 years working out. I recommend everyone to AthleanX. I workout 6 days. Week and because of Jeff’s expertise I’m now working out with a more fit and smarter movement patterns while utilizing healthier muscle movements than I have in my entire life.

  15. This is a great time to point out that you can't get bicep veins the size of sharpies unless you shoot steroids at least for a few cycles in your lifetime.

  16. I don't know why, but "the hardest part of the curl is the middle" sounds like an Elton John song 🤔😂
    Could someone please turn this into a song?! Please!

  17. My shoulders hurt when I do dumbbells 1 Arm at a time , if I do left then right , left then right it’s fine but if I do multiple reps with just left my shoulder aches , like the back of my shoulder more or the top not the front – I’m doing the exercise right

  18. Hoping you can answer/help as I not been to the gym for 4 days since yet.
    I pulled the back of my shoulder muscle last week doing side raises. Have slight pain in trap and rear delts area.
    Since that I lost 50 percent strengh in my left side doing bench and curls. Bench was like a wobble arm I couldnt hold stright and curls I just couldn't do it. Even 20 kg I do 10 times for warm up I couldnt pull. (I normaly finish 30kg 10 times on curls. And that's strict no arm movement or jerking)
    I had physio and he said he felt my one of my rear shoulder muscles wasnt firing but was after the phisyo.
    Do rear shoulder problems or trap affect curls like that. Just after another view as I just cant get my head around it all. Cheers
    I got home till sunday so wont know if physio has worked till then. So cant stop running my head around it.

  19. Would you say it's a good idea to put your hand on the front delt so that if you happen to start bringing that up too high, you can manually keep it down with the other hand?

  20. Great job, Jeff….I also make sure that I lower my arm absolutely straight down, then bring up the weight without trying to jerk it up…if that's the case, I go to a weight that I feel comfortable with….
    Thanks for this!!

  21. I'm a beginner and my biceps fatigue way too fast. I did bicep curls with 15 lbs as my working set. I do 7 1/2 lbs. To start warming up and do 12 reps, then I went for another warmup set with the same weight and my biceps completely burned out and I was like what the hell? So then I just did the one warmup set with 7 1/2 and went straight to my working set of 15 lbs. And I only was able to do like 6 before they burned out completely. What the hell is the problem?

  22. Answered bicep prayer… Thank you! I wasn’t swinging like a wild animal but also wasn’t feeling a good connection to my biceps

  23. Please do an asthma compensation exercise, Sir Cavaliere. It would be a lifesaver.

    Its less intense asthma attack and more a sustained inflammation and consistent wounding of the airways from said inflammation and pulse rate increasing to compensate for the lower breathing efficiency.

  24. For some reason my left arm starts to become painful pretty quickly after doing bicep curls anyone have any suggestions ?

  25. You are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, not to mention a very gifted teacher. I think I know know how I’ve been injuring myself! (Muscle spasms on neck and traps, and deltoid pain)Thank you very much! I absolutely love your channel.

  26. Thats a great video, many ppl just see big bodybuilders using the heavy weight, so by watching them they think if they are able to work with that weight, they get as big as they are. They are working out their ego but not their muscles, the biceps isn't really a big muscle group, so it don't really need heavy weight and if somebody is able to really hit the biceps with a workout, they will notice that they don't need heavy weights.
    I always say, if you do biceps curls, than elbows near to your body and they doesn't move, shoulders back and than just flex the biceps without swinging the back.
    So doing some strict curls would be a good help to do that right

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