Poor day way of life for most of us. Most new lifters know only a few exercises - and the barbell, and the most popular of these is this staple and its myriad of variations. A variant that is often left untouched is the drag curl. Why? Because it's hard.
Unlike many other bicep curl variations, the drag curl takes the body English and deltoids out of the movement to focus more on the biceps. Also, your elbows are behind your body during the maximum contraction, which prepares you for an intense bicep contraction. The rigorous range of motion gives your biceps the time under tension they deserve for more flex appeal.
Here we go over what drag curl is, how to do it, muscles worked, benefits of bicep training, programming and some variations and alternatives.
WHAT IS THE DRAG CURL?
With this drag curl you have the barbell directly on your body. Instead of curling up into your shoulders, pull the barbell against your body while your elbows go behind you. This tight and shorter range of motion takes the shoulders out to focus more on the biceps.
Impulse from other muscles is minimal here to increase time under tension on the biceps for a more intense pump. Because of these factors, you'll be using less weight, but the benefits to your biceps will be worth it.
HOW TO DO THE DRAG CURL
- Begin by grabbing a barbell with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing up, with the barbell resting across your thighs.
- Keep your chest up, shoulders down and look straight ahead.
- Pull your elbows back to engage your biceps and "pull" the barbell up toward your body toward your shoulders.
- Stop at the lower chest/upper stomach level and pause, then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position the same way. Reset and repeat.
- biceps: Both the long and short heads of the biceps are the key movers in the drag curl.
- forearms: Each curl variation engages the forearm muscles to aid in elbow flexion and gripping.
- brachialis: This is the muscle under the biceps. This muscle is a strong elbow flexor that assists the biceps in elbow flexion, and this muscle helps broaden the upper arm.
ADVANTAGES OF THE DRAG CURL
Aside from vanity, there are other important reasons why you should include bicep curl variations like the drag curl in your routine.
- Improved shoulder stability: The biceps is a double-headed muscle that attaches to the scapula and shoulder joint and assists the rotator cuff in shoulder stability, particularly through the anterior deltoid. The rotator cuff secures the humerus to the shoulder joint and the biceps secures the shoulder joint to the humerus, and this compression from both sides of your shoulder joint benefits your shoulder stability.
- Ideal for shoulder rehabilitation: The biceps play a minor role in shoulder flexion because flexing the shoulder works the biceps and anterior deltoids. Also, the upper back muscles contract isometrically to keep you in good posture and prevent the shoulders from rolling forward when performing curls. For this reason, bicep curls are programmed into the later stages of a rehab program to strengthen the rotator cuff and upper back.
- They help you lift more weight: Exercises that involve the biceps — like pull-ups, pull-ups, and rows — benefit from stronger biceps and improved grip strength. Wouldn't it be a shame for your biceps to give out before you've exhausted your shoulders and back?
TIPS PULL TO CURL SHAPE
The point of the drag curl is to minimize shoulder involvement so the biceps can get all the power. Although it's a simple move, here are some considerations to help you get the most out of the drag curl exercise.
- Limit Impulse: Don't start the movement with your lower body and resist the urge to lean back and use body English to add weight. This negates the benefits of this exercise, as the pulling motion should be slow and deliberate.
- Avoid rolling the front shoulder: The ROM is less than a standard curl, but please avoid rolling the shoulder too far forward to gain extra ROM here. More is not better here. Also, slightly bending your knees will relieve your lower back if that's a problem area for you.
SUGGESTIONS FOR DRAG CURL PROGRAMMING
The biceps are a muscle group that help with my pulls and are best worked after the main strength lifts of the day. This allows you to lift more weight. Here are some programming suggestions for pumping up your biceps with drag curls.
Bicep Triset Finisher
By doing three bicep exercises in a row at the end of your workout, you're giving your biceps everything they can handle. For example
1A Drag Curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
1B. Concentration Curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side
1C. Hammer curls: 3 sets of 12-20 reps
Mechanical bicep drop set
With mechanical drop sets, you start with the most difficult exercise for a given muscle group, combine it with a less difficult variation, and bring both to technical failure. For example, start with drag curls and then do barbell cheat curls. Burn baby burn.
DRAG CURL VARIATIONS AND ALTERNATIVES
Barbell and EZ-Bar drag curl are variations that will help you lift the most weight. But if these tools aggravate your joints, don't despair. Instead, do these variations.