The Most Effective Dumbbell Exercises
Arm bending exercises with dumbbells are easy to do, plus they give a number of options to work on biceps in different ways. The most effective exercises for building up the muscle volume are called basic. Those exercises involve several joints simultaneously as opposed to the monoarticular ones. Most of the classic biceps exercises, however, are of the latter type.
A common question about biceps: to bend both arms at once, or to alternate them?
You can finish a set faster with simultaneous bending, but this seems to be the only advantage the method has. Alternations are much more effective; with this method you can use much heavier dumbbells and perform a greater number of repetitions.
Moreover, with this option you concentrate better on the specific muscle, you feel it better. You can watch your techniques more carefully, make sure each repetition is perfect when you work with one hand at a time. If this method is right for you, you can also go for unilateral action so that you can master a couple of extra repetitions once you reached your limit at simultaneous arm bending. The extra strength comes thanks to the improved neuromuscular effectiveness.
Do a whole set with one hand and then go for the other one, or do one repetition with one and then one with the other one?
The later method gives more rest-time to each hand, but the whole set lasts longer; you can look at it as putting a higher demand on the whole body. It is up to you to choose which strategy works best for you since there is no wrong choice here.
Arm Bending in the Standing Position
You can perform the arm bending in the standing position, but remember that in this way it will be harder for you not to cheat. It can be a good thing and a bad one as well, depends on when and how you use the inertia. Do not do arm bending in the standing position just to improve the muscle tonnage. Remember: the muscle mass is built up not by the weight of the dumbbells but by the intensity of the muscle contraction.
Cheating the Right Way
The intensity will start decreasing if you cheat right away, from the first repetition. On the other hand, cheating, when used wisely, can help intensity. For example, use inertia moderately to contract muscles 1-2 times more once you reach your limit at doing the regular, strict set.
A good solution is to start the set in the seating position. Once you reach your limit in this position you can get up and keep on working. You will see that standing position will let you perform a couple of extra repetitions.
Bench Type and Arm Bending
Bench inclination is also very important. There is a high tendency to cheat if you just sit on the bench rather than lean on its hack. The angle can vary between 0° to 90°, since different angles act differently on the two biceps heads.
Arm bending on horizontal bench makes the biceps work in a unique way, but most of the gyms, unfortunately, do not have benches tall enough so that you do not touch the floor when you drop your hands with the dumbbells down. You need to find the tallest bench in the gym and put it on some blocks.
Long Heads of Biceps and Bench Type
You can finely stretch the long heads of biceps by performing the exercise on a bench like this. Those heads of the biceps, in particular, often are not loaded enough during regular exercises. Your long heads of the biceps will hurt quite a bit for about 1-2 days after you performed the arm bending on horizontal bench due to the unusual stretching.
The more inclined your bench is, the more you stimulate both heads of the biceps. The position closer to the vertical provides light stretching at the start of the motion. The 45° angle will provide significant stress on the outer regions of the biceps, but not as heavy as the horizontal position will. The 90° angle is as neutral as your body frame permits. The same can be said about the standing position.