Standing One-Arm Cable Curl

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Standing One-Arm Cable Biceps Curl Exercise Guide

In this post we will show you the perfect technique for the standing one-arm cable curl exercise. You should read through the exercise descriptions thoroughly so you know exactly what the exercise is going to accomplish, how to execute it properly and safely and how to best incorporate the exercise into your biceps workout.

This is a single arm version of the standing biceps cable curl. In this exercise you’ll be using the cable pulley to isolate your biceps. This bodybuilding exercise works the biceps through a full range of motion and can help add more size (not too much), shape and peak to your biceps. This is a useful “pumping” exercise after you have completed the standard heavy set. You can also use this exercise at the beginning of your biceps workout, as a first exercise to warm up your biceps muscles. It’s extremely difficult to stay stationary when exercising one side of the body. That’s why you should grab the machine with your free hand for support.

How to Perform Standing One-Arm Cable Curls?

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Stand facing a cable stack and hold a low pulley handle in one hand. Turn your wrist out by shifting your body slightly sideways. Your working arm should still face the weight stack so the movement occurs in a vertical plane, not across your body. Your non lifting arm should be grabbing your waist. This will allow you to keep your balance.

Standing One-Arm Cable Curl

Standing One-Arm Cable Curls

EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVE): Slowly curl the handle up while keeping the upper arm stationary until your forearm touches your bicep; hold the contraction at the top. For balance and stability, keep a slight bend in your knees and lean in toward the weight stack. Turning your wrist out at the top will place the emphasis squarely on the biceps, increasing the peak contraction. Lower the single handle back down to the starting position as you inhale. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Muscles Involved in Standing One-Arm Cable Curl

  • Main muscles: biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis
  • Secondary muscles: pronator teres, extensor carpi radialis longus, flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor carpi radialis
  • Antagonists: triceps, anconeus

Exercise Tips & Tricks

Be sure to read through all the tips & tricks for the standing one-arm cable curl exercise. There are tips that will help you get even more out of this already amazing warmup exercise.

  • Only your forearm should be moving (make sure that your upper arm is stationary and perpendicular to the floor);
  • Try to keep your body straight and fixed during the set. Do not swing back or lean back as you curl the weight up.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent to help prevent swinging your torso and “cheating.”
  • Keep the elbow of the arm curling the weight tucked in at your side and use the other arm to stabilize your body.

Exercise Variations

  • One-arm behind the back cable curl – stand with your back to the cable and hold the grip in one hand. Starting with the arm almost fully extended, bend the elbow as in the basic exercise. The movement is usually accompanied by extending the shoulder slightly and there is a lot of resistance from beginning to end. Never straighten your elbow completely as you could injure the biceps tendon. This is a useful “pumping” exercise after you have completed the standard heavy set.
One-arm behind the back cable curl

One-arm behind the back cable curl

  • Try standing far away from the stack (five to six feet) instead of close to it (one to two feet).

Replacement Exercises

Closing Thoughts

Standing one-arm cable curl is a basic exercise suitable for any level. Both the long and the short head will be working intensely. Single arm cable curls are good to do at the end of your bicep workout as a finishing move (after you’ve already done your heavier power exercises such as barbell biceps curls or barbell preacher curls). Of course you can take the opposite approach and use them as a warmup exercise.

Nothing is more ridiculous than a beginner doing sets of standing one-arm cable curls and dumbbell concentration curls while ignoring completely heavy barbell and dumbbell curls. For the first two years of training, beginners should focus on doing nothing but the “hard” exercises. Forget about the isolation.

The advantage of carrying out this biceps exercise on a cable pulley machine instead of using a barbell or dumbbell is that the pulley keeps working your biceps muscles throughout the entire range of motion. Finally, as with most cable exercises, go for the feel rather than the amount of weight.

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