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How using a resistance band can take your bicep curl to the next level

Training with a resistance band adds a core challenge to the upper-body exercise.
Using a resistance band keeps constant tension on the bicep muscles, meaning they don’t get a break between reps.
Using a resistance band keeps constant tension on the bicep muscles, meaning they don’t get a break between reps. TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

Resistance bands are a secret weapon when it comes to building muscle. In addition to being affordable and easy to transport, resistance bands can improve athletic performance, power and overall strength. Plus, they are versatile and suitable for training almost all muscle groups.

As opposed to dumbbells, which rely on gravity to work the muscles, resistance bands use constant tension to create muscle fiber microtears. An added benefit of resistance band training is core stabilization. In order to keep the tension, balance and control, your abdominals engage. In this way, training with resistance bands kicks things up a notch — in addition to working the intended muscle, you get a bonus core workout.

What do banded bicep curls do for the body?

Using a resistance band keeps constant tension on the bicep muscles, meaning they don’t get a break between reps. This movement strengthens the bicep muscles on the concentric portion of the rep as well as the eccentric portion. Throughout the entire set, your abs are also working to stabilize you and carry out the movement with proper form.

The common mistakes people make when doing banded bicep curls

Elastic resistance bands can be dangerous if used improperly, so be careful not to let go of the band during the movement. It can contract and strike your body. Additionally, don’t stretch the band too far. If strained, by too much pressure, the band can snap and injure you.

Another mistake is using momentum to raise your hands or splaying your elbows outward. Follow these tips to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Engage your core throughout the entire movement.
  • Keep your chest upright and focus on performing each rep slow and controlled.
  • Keep elbows hugged into the side of your body.
  • Secure the band underneath the arch of each foot. This will prevent it from slipping out and striking your body.

How to modify the banded bicep curl

Whether you are new to using bands or to the bicep curl movement, it is important to be patient with yourself. Start with the modified version and work your way up to the full exercise.

To reap the benefits of the banded curl, the biceps need to lengthen and contract. Instead of curling both arms together, try curling one arm at a time. You can either switch off sides between reps or perform a full set on one side before switching.

With practice, alternating sides will become manageable and you can try performing the full move with both arms together.

How to perform banded bicep curls correctly

Banded bicep curls are great for strengthening and toning the arms. If you’re ready to conquer the move, follow these steps:

  1. Grab a light to medium resistance band. Loop the band under the soles of your feet.
  2. Flip your hands so that they’re parallel to the floor and palms face away from the body.
  3. Hold onto the resistance band handles, keeping elbows tucked to your ribs. You should feel some tension in the band.
  4. Squeeze your core while slowly raising your forearms up toward your shoulders.
  5. Keep the tension as you slowly lower your forearms to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.

4 exercises that will help you perform banded bicep curls

To prepare your biceps and core for the work involved in banded bicep curls, here are 4 moves you can do that will strengthen these muscles.

Air curls

Without a resistance band or dumbbells, stand up straight and tighten your core. Hug your elbows to your body and raise forearms to shoulders, wrists facing upward as you would in a weighted bicep curl. Utilize your mind to muscle connection and think of contracting the muscle the entire time as you slowly lower your forearms back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.

Halfway bicep curls

Loop the resistance band under the soles of your feet and around your palms. Keep the tension as you raise your forearms toward your shoulders. Instead of raising your forearms all the way to the shoulders, raise them half way so that your forearms are parallel to the floor you’re your elbows at 90 degrees. Palms should still be facing up. Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat for 10 reps.

Elbow circles

Stand up straight and engage your core. Place your hands on your shoulders with your elbows out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Circle your arms and shoulders forward and back 10 times each way. Repeat for a few more sets to increase shoulder mobility.

Ab crunch

Lie flat on a mat with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head, making sure not to pull on the neck. Engage your core to lift the chest and shoulders toward the ceiling, then lower to the mat. Repeat for 10 reps.