Photographed By Amelia Alpaugh.
If we asked you to stop everything and strike a fitness pose, we bet you'd bust out a bicep curl. You know, the "Which way to the gun show?" pose. It’s basically the duckface of fitness-themed group photos.
To boost your flex, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse looked at what exercise is really the most effective for targeting the bicep brachii muscle. For the study, commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), 16 participants (both male and female) performed eight of the most common bicep exercises while wearing electrodes that measure muscle activity.
After all of the data was crunched, the concentration curl (which involves sitting on the end of a workout bench, resting your elbow against your inner thigh, and curling the weight toward your shoulder) proved to be the top performer. That’s because the concentration curl isolates the bicep muscle, removing potential momentum and swaying that makes a move less effective — and truly earning its focus-driven name.
This isn’t the ACE and UW LaCrosse's first partnership on a “best of” exercise study. They’ve explored other muscles, including the tricep — the gold-standard for that one is the triangle push-up. Of course, beyond a gym-mirror selfie, focusing your effort on an extremely isolating exercise isn’t exactly functional fitness. Rather, if strengthening and defining your bicep is a goal, the move should be integrated into a more balanced and complete upper-body routine. So, combine your arm exercises, and then flex away — #nofilter necessary.