Bicep exercises with dumbbells and barbells aren't for everyone. You might have an injury that limits your range of motion or simply find that free weights are cumbersome. You can still get bigger biceps by working out with the cable pull machine.
Benefits of Cable Machines
The American Council on Exercise states that one major benefit of weight machines is that they allow you to target and grow specific muscles. For example, some bicep curl variations will target the larger biceps brachii and others will work the underlying brachialis muscle. This is especially beneficial for bodybuilders and individuals who want to tone specific muscles.
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Cable machines also help decrease the risk of injury. When working with free weights or barbells, your body must balance and stabilize joints on its own. Cable machines isolate specific muscles and help to control the movement of the joints, making injury less likely.
As with any exercise program, consult a doctor before beginning. Start slowly with a weight and number of repetitions that's appropriate for your fitness level. As your fitness improves, increase the resistance. If you experience pain during any of these exercises, stop immediately and contact a medical professional.
1. Bicep Cable Curl
One of the basic cable exercises to target the biceps is the curl. Cable bicep exercises target the biceps brachii, according to ExRx.net. The underlying brachialis muscle and the brachioradialis are also activated. Stabilizing muscles that support the joints during the exercise include the trapezius, deltoids and wrist flexors.
- Stand close to the machine and grab the bar or stirrups with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Raise the bar until your elbows are fully flexed. Keep your elbows close to your side throughout the movement.
- Slowly lower the bar until your arms are extended.
For all cable bicep exercises, make sure the motion is smooth and controlled. Do not jerk the weight up or allow it to drop down.
2. Seated Bicep Curl
The cable bicep curl can also be done from a seated position. This variation targets the same muscles, focusing on the biceps brachii.
- Sit between the pulleys facing away from the machine.
- With your palms facing forward and your elbows at your side, raise the pulley to your shoulder.
- Lower your hands back down to the starting position.
You can work both arms at the same time or alternate arms during this exercise.
3. Supine Bicep Curl
Switch up your bicep cable workouts by adding cable curls done while lying on your back.
- Start out by sitting on the floor facing a cable machine.
- Using the low pulley cable, grasp the bar with an underhand grip.
- Lie down, with your legs fully extended and your feet touching the machine.
- Curl the bar all the way up to the top of the shoulders.
- Lower back down again to full arm extension.
4. Preacher Bicep Curl
The preacher curl targets mainly the brachialis muscle with the biceps brachii acting as a synergist muscle.
- Position a preacher curl bench so that it faces the cable pulley machine.
- Sit facing the machine and put both arms over the top of the preacher bench and grasp the cable bar with an underhand grip. Your armpit should be positioned near the top of the pad.
- Bend the elbows and curl the weight toward the top of your shoulders.
- Slowly extend the arms fully to return to the starting position.
- ExRx.net: "Cable Curl"
- ExRx.net: "Kinesiology Glossary"
- ExRx.net: "Cable Seated Curl"
- ExRx.net: "Cable Supine Curl"
- ExRx.net: "Cable Preacher Curl"
- American Council on Exercise: "6 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines"
- Muscle and Fitness: Attack Your Biceps
- STACK: Best Athletic Cable Exercises
- Muscle and Strength: Cable Only Bicep and Tricep Workout
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