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ARTICLE VERSION: https://muscularstrength.com/article/Barbell-Curl-VS-Cable-Curl
There are very few exercises I would label as BAD. I may have a few that I don’t like as much as others or have outgrown in terms of what they offer for muscle growth. But every exercise has it’s place. The only hard part is determining which exercises are best for you and that’s where the VS Series comes in. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Barbell Biceps Curl VS. Cable Biceps Curl to determine the PROS and CONS of each exercise and ultimately which one is best suited for your needs!
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What’s going on nation?
I’m Scott from muscularstrength.com and
today we’re going to be comparing the
barbell biceps curl to the cable biceps
curl to finally determine which is best
for building bigger biceps.
But before we get started,
but before we get started,
be sure to subscribe and click the
notification bell so you never miss a new
video upload from me. Also guys,
give that like button a
tap before you forget.
I mean we are talking
about biceps growth here,
so we should be able to easily get the
likes to over 5,000 for this video,
right? Hell yeah, we can!
So how do you determine how
effective an exercise is? I mean at
the end of the day,
lots of people have built amazing
physiques training in very different ways.
So the only way you guys will be able
to understand my choice is to first
understand more of the
anatomy of the biceps.
First off the biceps is a two
headed muscle bicep, right?
That mainly controls elbow flection
and forearm supination. However,
those of you who have been watching my
videos for some time also know that the
long head of the biceps or the outer
head actually crosses the shoulder joint
and controls shoulder
flection to a degree as well.
So this means that not all arm curls are
identical in terms of muscle size and
Any exercise you choose will
incorporate some sort of elbow flexion
but it’s actually the position of your
elbows through space that will determine
which head of the biceps
is emphasized the most
as well as which part of
the range of motion you’re
getting stronger at.
And not too many people think of this
when they put their routines together.
What I mean is when you do
something like an incline dumbbell curl,
it might look the same as
an overhead cable curl,
but in fact they are
fundamentally opposite and
that’s because the incline dumbbell
curl will position your
elbows behind your torso.
So there will be more shoulder extension
and thus it will emphasize the stretch
of your biceps throughout the
range of motion. On the other hand,
when you do an overhead cable curl,
which positions your elbows
more in front of your head,
so there’s more shoulder flexion
This will emphasize more of the
contraction of your biceps when performing
it really does matter which exercises
you decide to incorporate in your
workouts, especially considering that
each one of us has different goals,
different weak areas and lagging
body parts we need to focus on.
So now that you know a
bit more about the biceps,
let’s talk about the exercises.
Beginning with the barbell curl,
I want you guys to think of the barbell
biceps curl as the granddaddy of all
biceps exercises. In fact,
it’s probably the first bicep
exercise that was ever invented,
most likely around the same time
we started styling our hair.
Therefore, it’s a very difficult exercise
to top in terms of potential gains.
So let’s first compile a list of
pros and cons of this movement.
So pro number one,
holding the bar though forces your arms
into super nation at the bottom of the
movement, which is actually
the sticking point.
And this is going to activate your
biceps to a much greater degree
right from the get go, guys forearm
supination is one of the three functions of
your biceps and skipping it is just as
terrible as doing half reps on bench,
but a con to this is that forcing your
arms into supination can be hard on your
wrist, especially if you
have poor wrist mobility,
the solution would be to work on your
mobility and maybe even try to stretch
your wrists between sets. This isn’t the
kind of pain that you want to avoid guys.
It’s the kind you want to fix or else
it will just get worse over time.
Pro number two,
you can overload with much heavier
weights than any other biceps exercise,
especially when compared to dumbbell or
cable exercises with the barbell if you
need to, you can use a bit of momentum
to force out some super heavy reps.
now you can do the same thing with cables,
but when the weight starts to get really
heavy it tends to be a bit awkward due
to the fixed position of the cable.
Also trying to spot on something
like this really sucks,
but a con to overloading is because
you can cheat easier with a barbell.
This will give beginners who don’t know
better every opportunity to cheat, curl,
and possibly injure themselves.
And I see a lot of this in my gym.
I know you guys do too new lifters
using their legs, hips, lower back,
upper back and shoulders to lift
weight that’s they’re not ready for.
But now that we’re done with the pros
and cons of the barbell biceps curl,
let’s compare it to the cable version
and see if given the option which one is
best suited for more gain. Before we dive in, guys,
click the link in my pin comment below.
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That way you never miss a
new video upload. All right,
so cable bicep curls pros
and cons pro number one.
Once in starting position,
there’s constant tension on the biceps
throughout the entire range of motion.
And because of this,
the strength curve is much different
when compared to the barbell curl for the
it’s harder at the bottom
and gets progressively easier
as you reach the top of
the range of motion. With the cable curl,
though the difficulty remains
the same from start to finish.
The con to this is that you can’t really
overload as great with this exercise
when compared to the
barbell version. Sure,
you can become progressively
stronger over time,
but the cable curl doesn’t really allow
you to handle really heavy weights.
This is mainly because
most cable weight stacks,
they don’t go high enough in weight
and using momentum to push through the
concentric phase of the movement can be
very difficult and awkward when compared
to the barbell curl pro number two,
if your workouts are getting boring,
the cable curl will give you the
opportunity to introduce variety into your
training. We all love variety, right?
With the barbell curl
you have just that.
You stand there and you curl the bar.
But with the cable curl you can drop
the pulley all the way to the ground and
perform a standing cable curl. You can
raise the pulley all the way to the top,
sit chest down over a bench
and curl over your head.
You can lie on the floor and curl towards
your face and you can even do that
thing where you sit down and
pin your elbows to your thighs.
And I’m sure many other
exciting opportunities that
curl probably exist that I
don’t even know of but belong in a
future episode of INSTA-GAHHBAGE
But the obvious con to this guys is you
need a cable station and not everyone
has access to one, especially if
you’re training at home while not us,
we got a pretty sweet cable machine
at our home gym.
But that’s thanks to you guys. So,
Hey, thank you so much for the support.
Well now that we’ve gone over the
pros and cons for both movements,
I think it’s pretty obvious
what the better choice is,
but at the same time it’s
not always black and white.
And this is one of those cases. Sure.
If you only had time to perform
one bicep exercise in the gym,
I’d go with the standing barbell curl,
even if I did have access
to a cable station. But why?
It’s because the barbell curl allows
you to utilize heavier weights,
progress easier over time.
And because I can overload
more with heavy negatives,
I personally feel a lot more biceps
activation when compared to a cable curl.
Now some of you might point out that I
mentioned that when doing cable curling,
there is constant tension during
the entire range of motion.
So you would think that that would be
better, right? Well also remember this,
you are always going to be about 40%
stronger in the eccentric of any exercise,
and that is where the most muscles
damaged for regrowth happens as well.
So to put it simply,
you will never be able to curl up what
your biceps can max out on the way down.
And this is why the overloading
principle is so important. Now,
does this mean the cable curl has no
place in your workouts? Of course not.
Guys. In fact now that you have a bit
more knowledge of anatomy of the biceps,
you can use the different elbow positions
that the cable curl offers to focus on
either the flex or the stretch
portion of the movement.
I also enjoy ending my biceps
workout with a big drop set finisher,
which is much easier to execute using a
cable because of how easy it is to drop
the weight after each set.
I hope you guys learn a lot from today’s
video and if you want to check out all
of the versus series videos,
I will drop the link to the entire
playlist in my pin comment below,
as well as during the end screens.
So make sure you watch until the
end because before I sign off,
I want to leave you with a
new biceps workout to try out.
So your next biceps workout guys,
it’s going to consist of three exercises.
Exercise one is going to be a barbell
biceps curl. You’re doing four sets,
eight reps, eight reps,
six reps, six reps,
and obviously when you do six
make sure you’re lifting more weight
than when you did the sets of
eight. As soon as you’re done,
you’re gonna move over to
an incline dumbbell curl,
three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions,
and then you’re going to finish it all
off with cable biceps curls, three sets,
12 reps, but perform a
drop set for each set to,
for example, set one would be
12 reps as heavy as you can.
Then drop the weight and do another 12
reps and then drop the weight and do another
12 reps and if there’s room drop the weight
away and do another 12 reps.
Now you can do this
workout on your arm day.
You can combine it with
back and shoulders. You can
do it on your chest day.
If you’re doing a full body routine,
you can put it into your workout.
If your biceps are lagging you can
do a little extra biceps work.
At the end of the day, it
really doesn’t matter guys,
but if you do need some help with your
exercise selection or current weekly
you can always go to the forums on my site
muscular strength and post there.
I actually have created a special
private group where I’m very active and
promise a response within 24 to 48 hours.
You can ask me about your routine,
your meal plan macros or even post form
videos for me to look at and correct and
if you’re interested just send me
an email to Scott@scotthermanfitness.com
and I’ll send you
more information and as always,
more good stuff coming soon.
I really like doing the versus series
guys and I’m actually kind of sad that it
took me this long to jump back in the
saddle and get these videos going again.
But don’t you worry if
you enjoyed this video,
you can check out the
entire playlists over here.
There’s a lot of really great videos
comparing exercises in the gym to give you
a better understanding of
when and how to use them.
Then there’s only a couple videos where
I say this exercise is garbage I’m
pretty sure tricep kick
back is in there somewhere.
Even though some of you guys got upset
in the last video that I said it was a
terrible exercise, but I didn’t
just say it was terrible. I said,
it’s terrible if because of this reason.
And then I also gave a
reason when I would use it,
but the people who got upset probably
stopped watching the video before they got
to the end and saw the part where I said,
this is when I would use it because I
had to write that in the comment section.
Anyways, I’m just ranting. Click
this video over here. Check it out.
More great videos down here for you
to click on and enjoy more playlist.
How to videos on every single exercise
to do in the gym. And of course,
if you haven’t already, download my app,
muscular strength link
down below. I’ll see you guys later.