Biceps curls are a basic exercise for your biceps brachii. There are many variations on the ‘standard’ curl. You have undoubtedly heard of the preacher curl, performed sitting with your upper arms supported on a 45-degree plane. The legendary Larry Scott, who played the first two Mr. Olympia titles for himself, came up with a variation on this exercise, which is performed with your upper arms against the other, (perpendicular) straight side of the bench.
This exercise soon became known as the Scott curl, but its official name is spider curl. Although some argue that you perform a spider curl without resting your upper arms against a surface. In practice, this is now also the standard version, because most contemporary gyms lack a preacher bench with a perpendicular side.
Anyway, the spider curl is a great exercise for your biceps, especially for the short biceps head. And it could use some extra attention, since it largely determines the total size of your biceps.
In addition, you train the brachialis, (literally) a somewhat neglected child in other biceps exercises. The brachialis is hidden behind, or if you prefer, under your biceps. If trained properly, it will push your biceps upwards. The brachialis can be seen as the foundation under your biceps.
HOW DO YOU PERFORM SPIDER CURLS NOW?
In the most common way, not on a preacher bench like Larry Scott did, the implementation of spider curls is as follows.
Take a (straight) barbell and adjustable training bench, and adjust the angle of the backrest to 30-45 degrees. Now you can perform the exercise with your knees on the (also tilted) seat and your upper body and hips against the backrest. However, to maintain your balance, you may want to perform the exercise standing up, leaning forward against the backrest.
Let your arms hang down perpendicular to the floor. Now raise the bar by bending your forearm. Try to minimize the involvement of your shoulders by not letting your upper arms come forward. Flex your arms maximally for a good peak contraction, then lower the weight in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended again.
You can also perform the exercise with a set of dumbbells. These allow you to rotate your forearms slightly outward at the end of the movement (supining, in jargon) as you lift, giving you an even better peak contraction.
If you have the opportunity, you can also perform the exercise on Larry Scotts. Your upper arms can then no longer move, so that you achieve the strictest execution, ie the one with the least cheat possibility.
Spider curls have some unique features that you won’t find in other curl variations.
For example, the spider curl encourages strict execution, because it is impossible to rock your upper body.
And because your hips don’t get in the way in the lower position, the range of motion (or ROM) is slightly wider than with other barbell curl variations. The ROM is also more favorable than that of the preacher curl, which has the shortcoming that the 45-degree angle makes the resistance uneven. With spider curls, your biceps are under equal tension from top to bottom, and you can feel it!
Finally, the spider curl is a good addition to regular barbell or biceps curls, because it tackles the short biceps head just a little more.
Cover image: Jeremy Ethier/YouTube