Biceps Training- Straight Bar or EZ Curl Bar?
By Christian Duque
Bars are like cars, we can’t live without them, but we each have our different tastes. Some people look at the gym like a pastime, others look at it like another day at the office, & some look at like a war of sorts. Whatever your mindset, if you’re after building quality muscle, you’ll become very aware that there are various ways to get to the goal. Some will get you there faster, others may take a bit longer, but you won’t strain your joints & be in pain. When dealing with large muscle groups like legs & back, there’s a lot more guesswork involved, there are far more variables at play; however, with smaller muscle groups like biceps, the path to success can be far more direct. Unfortunately, there’s always a catch. Biceps are incredibly small muscles, used secondarily during back exercises. Therefore, the lifter has only a window of time with which to employ exercises. The fear of overtraining is ever present. This complicates things terribly, to say the least.
With biceps what you really want to aim for is 2-3 sets of 8-10 light to moderate weights. You don’t want to curl the 100’s. I’ve been there and there’s no point. Half the time you’ll be swinging & heaving & your form will be complete dogshit, not to mention you won’t build anything! Dumbbells are a must. What exercise you use for the dumbbells – is again – a matter of choice. You’ll also want at least one machine exercise, typically for cooldown. Finally you’ll want one exercise with a bar.
The EZ Curl Bar is a favorite for many because it allows for several different alternate grips. The wrists hurt less when the lifter has this diversity. The problem with the EZ bar is that it also works forearms and even in isolated sets, lacks the angular specifications needed to properly target the muscle. While it’s more comfortable, the lifter must be more patient with gains, and the even worst news is, the lifter won’t get as good of a contraction & pump as with the straight bar.
Straight bars are the gold standard of bicep training. Whether standing or seated, isolated or open, there will be no uncertain stress on the wrists, but the biceps will feel every rep, so long as the lifter is employing strict form. Let’s be clear here, there’s no time to screw around. You don’t have a lot of time to work with & you need to be serious. Straight bars are also more favorable for training with a partner (e.g., doing assisted reps or going beyond failure).