Dumbbells are the gold standard for weight training. They're accessible, portable, and easily available for purchase, but they don't have to be the ending point for the weight training tools you use.
Kettlebells provide unique benefits for muscle growth too, and you can't get the same effect with dumbbells. Kettlebells are also able to engage your whole body with one move, giving you more of a workout as you train.
While dumbbells are often the preferred route for biceps training, kettlebells have proven an interesting alternative that can be more effective at times. Because of the difference in the composition of a kettlebell versus a dumbbell, you can afford to do slightly lesser reps when training with kettlebells. Anywhere between 5 to 8 is ideal. Here are some moves to try.
STANDING BICEPS CURL
Photo credit: Muscle and Fitness
For those looking to build mass, kettlebells are a tool you need to incorporate into your biceps training routine. The design of a kettlebell creates more tension throughout the movement, and this engages more of your target muscle group as you lift. You also can't "cheat" on your lift by over-curling at the end of the lift, which tends to take the stress off the biceps. Having a kettlebell dangling off your palm requires control, as any jerking or swinging movement will cause the kettlebells to hit against your forearm, and you don't want that. Also, make sure you don't fully straighten your arm at the end of the move lest you lose your grip, and the kettlebell slips from your hand.
Photo: Dr Joel Seedman
This is one to train all the smaller muscles on your arms that rarely get engaged, like those around the wrists and the forearm. Use a lighter load when performing kettlebell hammer curls. Because of the constant tension you're putting your biceps under, this move doesn't require heavy weights to produce results. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and have a kettlebell in each hand. Curl the kettlebells up to your collarbone, and lower it down slowly. You can also perform the hammer curls with one kettlebell instead of two. Just ensure your elbows are kept close to your sides when you lift if you chose that variation.
BOTTOMS-UP BICEP CURL
Photo credit: Testosterone Nation
This move requires you to hold the bottom of both kettlebells in your palms, so choose a lighter weight. With this move, you can never fully straighten your arms at the bottom of the top, and there's going to be little relaxation during each lift, so you're really going hard on your muscles. It also helps with your posture and shoulder positions, which you would rarely pay attention to when using dumbbells. Your wrists are also being trained as they're required to lock in order to stabilise the weights, and this helps to strengthen your grip.
INCLINE KETTLEBELL CURL
Photo credit: Testosterone Nation
There is usually lesser tension on the muscles when curling with dumbbells. Kettlebells counteract this due to their unique composition, keeping your muscles tense and in hypertrophy throughout the lift. An incline biceps curl brings massive amounts of blood to your muscles, leading to a greater pump, as well as more blood flow between your muscles, and these are imperative to growing new muscle. Get a bench at 45-degrees, and lie back on it, with the a kettlebell in each hand. Your palms should be facing the ceiling. Begin to curl, keeping your muscles contracted throughout the lift. Return to the starting position and repeat.
FLEXED HOLD KETTLEBELL CARRIES
Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com
This hold engages your biceps' sticking strength and your grip. This move also helps improve your ability to curl. It's deceptively simple. With a kettlebell in each hand, try standing upright and holding them with your arms bent at 90-degrees. Start off with 30 to 60 seconds, rest, then do it again for at least 3 to 5 reps. Add a farmer's walk in if you want to make the move more of a challenge.
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