Today I will cover five different types of bicep curls that you often see in fitness magazines, at gyms and recommended by personal trainers. I recommend that only four be incorporated into your exercise program. People with osteoporosis, osteopenia or low bone density should not do one of the bicep curl variations.
Bicep Curl Variations
There are many different types of bicep curls exercise. Each variation of bicep curls has its own unique qualities. I will cover in detail are the following:
Proper Technique for Bicep Curls Exercise
Pay attention to your technique, posture and breathing throughout each exercise. Let’s start with the Standing Bicep Curl.
Benefits of Bicep Curls
The bicep curl has significant benefits for bone and muscle health. It targets the muscles of the:
It also targets the bones in the:
- Hip (for the Single Leg and Lateral Lunge variations).
Standing Bicep Curl
The standing bicep curl is the first of five bicep curl variations that I will cover. It is a Beginner level osteoporosis strength exercise in the Exercise for Better Bones program.
Here are the steps to follow for the Standing Bicep Curl:
- Stand with your feet just about hip-width, or a little wider, apart.
- Ensure that your knees are slightly bent and that your shoulder blades are tucked down, head in, and as tall as you can be.
- Your palms should be facing you as you hold the weight.
- Take a breath in. And with the tongue to the roof of your mouth, slowly, gently lift the weights up so that your palms are facing you. And back down.
- Lengthen your spine.
- Avoid letting the weights pull your shoulders and ribcage down.
- Lift your rib cage away from your pelvis to counteract the gravitational force of the weights.
- Slowly and gently tighten your lower tummy. Your lift is done in a one to two second lift.
You do not want to compromise your posture at all during this, or any, exercise. Ensure that you keep your shoulder blades and your head back. Do not do a bicep curl with your head forward or your shoulders rounded. Remember the weight-bearing starts from your head.
Alternating Bicep Curl • Standing Position
The alternating bicep curl in standing position is a weight bearing exercise from the Active level strength exercises. It is targeted at the bicep (of course), the hips, spine and wrists. This is the second of five bicep curl variations that I will cover.
Follow these steps to complete the alternating bicep curl:
- Start with feet slightly wider than hip width, knees bent, shoulder blades tucked down and back, and long through the back of your neck.
- We’re going to be alternating arms.
- Start with your palms facing you, bring your right hand to face your right shoulder as you’re coming down, left hand comes up to face your left shoulder.
- Alternate so that as one comes up, the other lowers.
If you’re challenged with the breathing on this one, you can wait and do it a little bit slower. You’re going to come up, exhale through, take your breath in, exhale through.
As you get more comfortable, you can move through it a little bit faster.
But the most important thing is to make sure that you keep your alignment and your head back so that you’re not coming forward with each lift of the weight.
Single Leg Bicep Curl • Standing Position
The single leg bicep curl is an Athletic strength training exercise from the Exercise for Better Bones Program. It is designed to strengthen muscles in the biceps, buttocks, and quadriceps and bones in the hips, spine and wrists. In this video I demonstrate the exercise. This is the third of five bicep curl variations that I will cover.
Follow these steps to complete the single leg bicep curl:
- Transfer all your weight onto one leg. If you do not have the stability to actually lift the unsupported leg, just keep your toe touched.
- Then you’re going to go into your curl, breathe in, hands come to face the shoulder, and back down.
- You’re going to do half your set on one leg, then you’re going to transfer your weight to the opposite side.
- Complete your set on the opposite leg.
If you find your stability compromised, just touch your toe down so that you’re still being challenged in terms of the full weight-bearing on the supported leg.
With your bicep curl, it’s important to set your shoulder blades. You do not want to allow yourself to do your curl coming forward with rounded shoulders. You want to draw your shoulder blades down and back, and ensure that they stay in that strong, retracted position through your curls.
We’re just going to do a couple more without you moving the head.
Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis
Exercise is vital to bone health and osteoporosis. But what exercises should you do and which ones should you avoid?
A great resource on exercise and osteoporosis is my free, seven day email course called Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis. After you provide your email address, you will receive seven consecutive online educational videos on your bone health — one lesson each day. You can look at the videos at anytime.
To register for this free email course, simply click on the image of the couple or click here and provide your email address.
I cover important topics related to osteoporosis exercise including:
- Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?
- Stop the stoop — how to avoid kyphosis and rounded shoulders.
- Key components of an osteoporosis exercise program.
- Key principles of bone building.
- Exercises you should avoid if you have osteoporosis.
- Yoga and osteoporosis — should you practice yoga if you have osteoporosis?
- Core strength and osteoporosis — why is core strength important if you have osteoporosis?
Side Lunge with Bicep Curl
The side lunge with bicep curl is a strength exercise from the Exercise for Better Bones program specifically designed for the Elite Level. This is the fourth of five bicep curl variations that I will cover.
Follow these steps to complete the side lunge bicep curl:
- Step into a lateral lunge.
- Weights come down on either side of the supporting knee.
- Come out into a curl.
- Back down, side bend, lateral lunge, into the curl.
Posture and Weights
As with all weight lifting, especially with the upper body, use weights. When you go into a forward position, you want to ensure that your shoulder blades are stayed tucked down and back through the exercise. That’s it for the elite level side lunge bicep curl.
Preacher Bicep Curl
The preacher bicep curl is another one of the bicep curl variations. Unfortunately, this variation encourages a flexed position and should be avoided. The standing bicep curl (described above) is a better exercise for people concerned about their posture and individuals with osteoporosis.
Besides causing flexion of the spine, this puts a lot of stress on the shoulder blade musculature and shoulder stabilizers (as I illustrate in the video).
My general advice to most clients (and particularly people with osteoporosis) is that the preacher bicep curl should be avoided.
Instead, I recommend the standing bicep curl (described above). The standing bicep curl is a great weight training exercise when done safely for people with osteoporosis.
Here are a few tips and suggestions when doing the standing bicep curl:
- Find a bench and lift one foot to rest on the bench as you do the exercise.
- Tuck your shoulder blades down and back.
- Execute your bicep curls with nice alignment (being mindful of your posture).
Reinforce movements during the exercise that you can take with you outside of the gym. Maintain a good posture and alignment and use this exercise to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles as well as working the bicep muscles.
I encourage you to incorporate the standing bicep curl into your weight training osteoporosis program. When executed properly, it can strengthen you biceps and allow you to practice good alignment and posture.
Different Types of Bicep Curls
In this blog post, I identify five different types of bicep curls but only recommend four. The bicep curl exercise right for you depends on your activity level and fracture risk. Each of the four bicep curl exercises is described in Exercise for Better Bones.
Exercise for Better Bones
Exercise for Better Bones is an exercise osteoporosis program designed for people like you. It is available for purchase at Amazon in printed book and Kindle formats. It provides a safe and effective means to strengthen bone, reduce fracture risk, and build confidence.
The Program has been successfully used by thousands of MelioGuide clients worldwide. Plus … hundreds of Physical Therapists and Physiotherapists have prescribed the Program for their clients.
Osteoporosis Exercise Plan
Visit my Osteoporosis Exercise Plan page for more information on this topic.
Hi Margaret – when I am at my bootcamp class is it ok to push the sled or the tank? I have osteopenia and I just want to know if I should be doing that. Thank You!
Margaret Martin says
Hi Shirley, As long as you push the sled using your legs and you keep your elbows in close and your core engaged and spine long you’ll be good. Bootcamp classes usually encourage timed stations which in my experience leads to poor form. Two suggestions: take the time you need to know you are using good body mechanics and ask the instructor to video tape you on your phone so you can ensure that you are moving with good body mechanics. All the best,
i recently fractured a bone in my foot and have to stay off my foot. Can you reccomend any seated bicep curl exercises
Margaret Martin says
Hi Myrna, Sorry to read about your foot fracture. You can do any the basic double arm bicep curl while seated on a surface that is higher than your knees and lower than your hips. Your weight will be on your non fractured foot (of course). Sit within 8 inches of the edge of the seat so that it encourages you to be in a “perched” position. A “perched” position will encourage your spine to stay in good alignment.
Wishing you quick healing. Take care.
Thank you. I will give it a try.