A basic bicep curl is a simple exercise yet many rush through the exercise swinging weights around rather than deliberately being mindful of what muscles you are working. As with any lifting exercise it is when lowering the weight we get the most work and benefit so if we swing the weight up and let it just fall back down are we really doing any work?
Adding in a single leg balance challenges you to slow down the movement, engage your core and also work on developing critical awareness of balance on a single leg and awareness of how arm motion connects through our core to our lower body.
Walking or running is really just a series of balances on a single leg moving forward with opposing arm swings. So working on bicep curls, single leg balance and core engagement between the upper half and lower half of our bodies is an important component of strength as we age.
As always start with lighter weights than you think you need and work to understand the movement pattern first and develop better awareness of what muscles you are working. As you are able to control the weight and learn the motion, incrementally increase the weight so you can do your full set but not an extra 5-8 repetitions. We need to lift heavy enough to create muscle break down as it is the healing of the breakdown that increases strength.
How to do Alternating Bicep Curls with Balance
Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Engage core and balance on one foot. Keep your eyes focused on one area on the ground to help keep you balanced.
Keeping your elbows tucked in to your side, slowly bring up one dumbbell towards your shoulder. Resist the weight as you lower it while simultaneously bringing up the dumbbell in your other hand. Continue alternating dumbbell curls while maintaining balance on your one foot. It is okay to lift with either palms flat or with thumbs up making more of a hammer motion. As these two hand positions work different parts of the bicep, we suggest holding the dumbbell with one grip one time and a different grip another.
Aim for 10 - 12 repetitions for each arm. Take a break (or do another exercise which doesn’t work your arms!) and repeat this exercise while balancing on your other leg.
Many people perform bicep curls by swinging the weights or using upper body movement to counteract the weights. Your upper body should remain still and you should not lift so heavy that it requires you to arch your back.
Many people let the weight just fall back to the start instead of resisting it as if it were going through water on the way down. These people are missing the most important part of the exercise.
If you are new to balancing on one foot, expect to wobble a bit especially on one leg more than the other. That’s ok! Maintaining your core will help you keep your upper body still and provide a focus which may help with balancing.