Next time you plan to rip through a high-volume round of biceps work, take a metaphorical minute to consider that there could be an alternative to all those reps. Then, take an actual minute to crush your arms with this super-tough finisher instead.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel uses the 1-minute control curl finisher to stretch out the benefits of his arm day by creating a ton of tension to work his biceps. The potential benefits of the routine don’t just stop at bigger muscles, either.
“This is going to not only make your biceps burn, but it’ll leave them stronger for your heavyweight motions, like regular biceps curls and barbell curls,” says Samuel. “You’re also building a ridiculous amount of mind-muscle connection with this.”
To perform the finisher, you’ll need a preacher curl setup with an EZ bar, so this is best suited for a fully-equipped gym. Don’t overload the bar with heavy plates—remember, this routine is more about surviving the clock, not moving a ton of weight.
- Set a timer for 1 minute.
- Sit in the preacher bench the EZ bar with a pronated (underhand grip). Your arms should be resting on the pad, but you should be sure to maintain an upright posture in your back—don’t round your shoulders.
During the period, you’ll be alternating between four different arm positions.
- Position 1: A few degrees above straight arms.
- Position 2: Forearms parallel to the ground.
- Position 3: 90-degree elbow angle.
- Position 4: Forearms just short of perpendicular to the ground.
- Switch between the positions for 2 second counts for the duration of the period. For an extra challenge, ask a partner to call out the positions randomly to keep you guessing.
While you’re focused on keeping the weight in position, make sure that your form is on point. “My upper arms are glued to that bench the entire time, my elbows never lifting off of it,” says Samuel. “That’s critical. You’ll see a lot of guys lifting their upper arms of the preacher bench; that’s incorporating front delts and we’re trying to isolate the biceps here.”
That need for proper form doesn’t just stop at your arm positioning. Your back and shoulders are also key.
“When you set up on the preacher bench, make sure to maintain some tension in your mid-back/rhomboids area,” Samuel advises. “Doing so will help protect your shoulder joints; we want to create as much room and space for our rotator cuff tendons (and biceps tendons) to move freely. It’s very easy and convenient to be lazy with your back on the preacher bench and let your shoulders roll forward; maintaining light tension in your mid-back throughout the minute prevents that from happening.”
To add this to your next arm day, try 3 sets with a minute of rest in between. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.