Kettlebell Biceps vs Barbell Biceps!

Posted: 15th October 2010 by Darren in Biceps exercises
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Many of my clients often ask me-‘Hey I know kettlebells are great for fat loss and strength, but what can I do to isolate my biceps with them. And are they better than barbells?’ Of course there is! And they most definitely  are!

Completing some additional specific bicep work with kettlebells is actually a fantastic idea, and will help keep your biceps in condition for lifts such as the clean where your biceps are worked intensively.  But which is better, the Barbell or the Kettlebell? I would go with kettlebells nearly every time.

First of all the variety of lifts that can be practised with a kettlebell far exceeds that which can be practised with a barbell. The bell can be grasped either by the horns, handles or the bell itself (which develops great crushing strength) leading to some of the best biceps developers around and tremendous forearm strength.

Secondly when completing a Kettlebell Bicep Curl, tension is still kept on the muscle at the top of lift, unlike the Barbell curl where tension drops off. Again the kettlebell is the winner! Curling with a kettlebell is much like working with a cable but with a free weight- and so you get the benefits of both.
I find that when training my biceps with kettlebells I get far more pump and post exercise soreness ( which is what i’m after in isolation type motions) than when using a Barbell. I believe this is due to the constant tension placed biceps and Brachiallis but unlike with a cable the weight is raw.

The kettlebell also lends itself to being used for a plyometric type curl that can be used to promote tremendous explosive strength in the arms. Kettlebell plyo’s are kind of like skipping for your biceps.  As witht the regular curl the elbows are kept at the side but this time the weight is forcefully tossed slightly upwards and across the body and caught with the other hand- where upon the idea is to de-accelerate the weight as much as possible before repeating the motion on that hand.

It is really important to start light on this one; but for any of you who have done plyometrics with your chest,back or legs you’ll know how much benefits plyo’s can produce. The kettlebell’s positioning of weight and handle really lends itself to this move you just couldn’t do this as well with a Barbell or Dumbell.
Remember though for great looking arms you not only need to concentrate on your biceps, but also the muscle that runs under these- Brachiallis. This muscle works during regular bicep training however it can be isolated out a little more with a change in hand position as seen in the Kettlebell hammer curl below.
Below are just a few kettlebell exercises that will blast your biceps and give you some great looking arms to be proud of!

Straight Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Keeping the elbow locked to your side and the palm facing upwards, curl the weight upwards concentrating on flexing and squeezing with your bicep and contract hard at the top of the motion. Control the weight on the downwards motion feeling the muscle stretch under control. Keep your glutes tight throughout, the only motion that should happen is at the elbow, the torso should remain steady and tight.

Kettlebell Hammer Curl

This not only works the biceps but the kettlebell now efficiently targets the Brachialis muscle. Take the kettlebell by the horns; again curl the weight upwards keeping the wrists straight so that at the top of the motion the Kettlebells bottom is pointing towards the wall this will really work the forearms and grip too.
Kettlebell Crush Curl

Holding the kettlebell around the bell crush the kettlebell as hard as possible between the hands and again curl the weight as in the exercises above. This not only develops great bicep and grip strength, but the crushing motion brings in the chest musculature too for a great functional exercise.

These are just a few of the many different kettlebell bicep exercises that can be used to bring your arm development and shape up to new levels!

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