Men Over 40 Should Use This Curl Variation for Big Arms and Healthy Shoulders
Milo Bryant is a performance coach as well as an experienced journalist. He’s also in his 50s—and his book Unstoppable After 40 gives you the roadmap to do more than merely remain active as you “mature.” Milo trains hard and recovers even better so he can do what he wants, when he wants. Get ready to use his methods to become unstoppable. This isn’t your dad’s middle age.
The biceps curl is a go-to for big arms for all levels of trainees, from young newbies to guys over 40 who are looking to get or stay fit. Usually, the name of the game for a successful curl is isolation—dialing-in on form to make sure the biceps muscle is taking on all the load for the maximum muscle and strength gains. But one precise tweak to the curl—externally rotating your arms—can help to engage the shoulders more than other variations of the arm-pumping exercise while still making your biceps pop.
Why bother to double-dip? Fellas, we need to understand the human body is a use it or lose it organism. That goes double for joints such as the shoulder, which is held in place and is allowed to move because of the four rotator cuff muscles. You might have a higher chance of tweaking a shoulder—or outright injuring one—because of how much you’ve used the shoulders over the decades. Not taking care of the shoulder joints only increases the risk.
The precision curl helps men over 40 engage the rotator cuffs to build strength for pain-free movement—important for everything your shoulders do from throwing a ball or swinging a racquet to playing with your children. An added bonus: The move still helps to build the big, strong arms you’re training for when you’re aiming to get a pump. Try adding this move to your training twice a week on upper body-focused days.
How to Do Precision Curls
●Stand holding light dumbbells in your hands, core and glutes tight (you can also work from a sitting or tall- or half- kneeling position to emphasize proper form).
●Curl the dumbbells upward, flexing your biceps.
●As you curl up, rotate your arms out so that your forearms flare outward (i.e. externally rotate your shoulders). Turn your palms to face your torso at the top of the curl.
●Pause, then slowly lower to the start. Repeat for 10 reps; complete three total sets.
Best Coach Cues for Precision Curls
●Continuously try to turn the pinky-side of the palm up throughout the movement.
● Keep your back flat and your torso tall and tight throughout the movement. No kyphotic posture (rounded shoulders).
● Both upper arms should “hug” the torso while the lower arms flare out.
Helpful Tip for the Precision Curl
Correct form is infinitely more important for these curls than the weight. Err toward using dumbbells you can move through the full range of motion without losing posture—then grab the next pair when that gets easy.
Milo Bryant, CSCS, is a California-based trainer and an award-winning journalist.