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Bicep exercises and safety

qbkilla

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With reading the injuries thread I got to thinking about modifying my training some. For biceps I do machine preacher (feels safe), heavy db curls one arm at a time with some english ( a little risky) and chinups (palms facing) which I recall a member here tore his doing.

I know injuries can be random but what do you consider the most effective and safe bicep exercises with tendon tears being to common?

I'll say I've heard 2 arm bb preacher can be dangerous. Incline curl, cable curl, spider curl I would all assume are safer since you can't go too heavy. Maybe guys 35 plus should avoid the 8 to 12 rep range and maybe shoot for 12 to 15?

Thoughts on chins, we had someone tear one doing this, just an outlier? I know some gyms have a grip that is between a chin and neutral that "feels" safer to me than palms facing.
 

joos23

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People get the tears from even doing rows. Repetitive use is what can cause this type of injury.
 

qbkilla

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I assume typically underhand rows? I know deadlifts too lead to alot of tears
 

TheOtherOne55

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I would be willing to bet that bicep tears are relatively low on the "hurt in the weight room" injuries.
The closest I've come to bicep injuries have been during my PL days during deadlifts. THAT is a real problem with lots of PLers having delt with that. The average gym bro has no problems nor concerns with their biceps.

Lower back injuries and maybe pec strains are probably muuuch higher on the totem pole.
 

danieltx

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Most exercise-related bicep injuries likely come from putting the biceps in an unnatural position (unilateral DB preacher curls with too much weight and poor ROM) or subjecting them to much more force than they're used to (reverse grip rows, reverse / mixed grip deadlifts, chinups). I really don't get how chinups became a bicep exercise - great biceps are built with isolation movements.

A lot of people who experience tears likely were using those poor techniques for some time, which wore down the tendon to where it one day snapped.

Personally, I don't use free weight for biceps or triceps. I have long arms and I think most guys with long arms are better served by cable and machine exercises that provide more constant tension on the muscle.

My biceps will never be great unless I use Synthol but I've made good progress on them the last 3 years with these exercises, and I've never had anything close to an injury:
  • HS elevated curl machine (elbows sits roughly level with head)
  • Free Motion bicep station curls
  • Free Motion bicep station hammer curls
  • Nautilus Bisolator (currently using - feel this really well, should help add some size when I bulk this year)
  • Hoist seated curl machine (currently using - I stand to get a better ROM and the backpad helps keep the arms stable to further isolate biceps)
Finally, do the proper stuff for injury prevention - warm up correctly, stretch, don't make stupid jumps in weight, get a good squeeze and stretch on every rep, etc. I was really amazed reading the injury thread - I'm probably at the upper end of Pro Muscle members on pushing heavy weights for a lot of reps and the worst thing I've had was a very minor shoulder strain, and I attribute that to being very mindful in my training, recovery, supplementation, etc.
 

buck

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Tore my bicep while doing forced reps with a barbell. And some how managed to rupture the same one years later while kicking up DB's for a seated press. Had it repaired. But seems I managed to rupture/tore it again while doing DB bench. But haven't had a Dr. look at it as I don't plan to have it repaired.
 

Kaladryn

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1. Biceps tendons usually go slowly over time, not all at once.
2. Biceps are weak specialty muscles that perform several different tasks, they are not even the primary elbow flexor.
3. Because biceps are in a weak mechanical position, they cannot lift much weight on their own, when you lift heavy with biceps, other muscles are doing most of the work.
4. Rapid negative contractions are usually what rupture the distal tendon.
5. Overuse and too much weight slowly turn the proximal tendon into tiny strands instead of a single round tendon.
 

Bio

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One thing that skews cause and effect with tears is, when did a tear first manifest? You could have a small tear in a tendon, say distal bicep tendon for example, and it could be misconstrued with tendonitis or you may not feel much. Then sometime later the tear completes and the tendon comes away from the bone. The point is, the exercise you may have been doing at the time may not have caused that if the tendon had not been compromised.

Be it tendon or muscle tear, wear and tear over time (cumulative trauma) may be the cause and again, not necessarily the exercise that was being performed at the time.

This thread reminded me that I have a small distal bicep tendon tear on my left arm. I've had it for a few years now. Doesn't hurt anymore. I train it just as I normally would. There's nothing I can do to stop the inevitable. The doctor told me, "One day it will tear and then we'll fix it." I don't even think about it when I lift. That said, I'm not looking forward to that day!
 

qbkilla

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Some good posts

So I guess some take home points would be besides don't use stupid heavy weight and bad form...

Be careful managing overall volume for biceps
Don't ignore pain and push through it
Yet another reason deloads and back off periods are good
Biceps aren't something like rear delts or side delts where it's always wise to go crazy on volume or intensifiers if they are lagging

?
 

danieltx

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Some good posts

So I guess some take home points would be besides don't use stupid heavy weight and bad form...

Be careful managing overall volume for biceps
Don't ignore pain and push through it
Yet another reason deloads and back off periods are good
Biceps aren't something like rear delts or side delts where it's always wise to go crazy on volume or intensifiers if they are lagging

?
You need to be careful managing overall volume for all body parts, but yes, biceps shouldn't need much - mine get like 3 warmups and 5 working sets every 3-5 days right now (more frequent training since dieting).

Never ignore pain - that's your body telling you to find a new movement.

You shouldn't need deloads or back off periods if you're managing volume and recovering properly.

The solution for lagging body parts is almost never adding more volume or intensifiers - it's almost always finding better exercises where you actually feel the muscle squeeze and stretch.
 

Thahulk

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My gym partner just tore his bicep badly. On the preacher with a dumbbell. On video also. Popped right back to his shoulder. Yikes
 

Thahulk

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And I have a crazy pec strain. Sucks real bad. I was training for a local powerlifting meet. Bummer
 

gungalunga

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I would be willing to bet that bicep tears are relatively low on the "hurt in the weight room" injuries.
The closest I've come to bicep injuries have been during my PL days during deadlifts. THAT is a real problem with lots of PLers having delt with that. The average gym bro has no problems nor concerns with their biceps.

Lower back injuries and maybe pec strains are probably muuuch higher on the totem pole.
Talk to me after you turn 50......About two months ago I started my workout with close-up low seated cable rows for lower lats. Did 5 or 6 sets....didn't go crazy with the weight. On the last couple reps of the last set I did put my lower back and arms into it a little more to get those last reps. I then went to the preacher bench machine. On the 8th rep of the second set, felt something tear on my right bicep. Now the left side of my bicep is shorter, but looking at it positively, the peak is slightly higher. It looks fine, and I can train with it now no problem.
 

UsmcOldSchoolMuscle

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I've torn my bi-cep and was back training in a short period of time. In all honesty I just trained around it for a period of time.

Tearing the muscle is one thing. Tearing the tendon is a whole other issue.
 

TheOtherOne55

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Talk to me after you turn 50......About two months ago I started my workout with close-up low seated cable rows for lower lats. Did 5 or 6 sets....didn't go crazy with the weight. On the last couple reps of the last set I did put my lower back and arms into it a little more to get those last reps. I then went to the preacher bench machine. On the 8th rep of the second set, felt something tear on my right bicep. Now the left side of my bicep is shorter, but looking at it positively, the peak is slightly higher. It looks fine, and I can train with it now no problem.
My comment was about the % of injuries in the gym.
Sucks you had to be the 1% but the most dudes will go their entire lifting career never injuring their bicep.
 

gungalunga

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muscle96ss

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maldorf

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I feel like one thing that really puts a lot of stress on the biceps tendon down at the radius insertion is doing movements where the wrist is supinated the entire movement. I like doing dumbbells now and pronating the wrist at the bottom of the movement, feels more natural and seems to put less strain down there on the tendon. So if youre doing preacher curls, let your wrist turn when going down in the negative to pronate, and supinate when in the last top half of the movement. It should feel natural.

I have strained mine doing supinated chin ups and mixed grip dead lifts. Any movement that keeps your bicep locked in at the supinated grip seems to put a lot of stress and hurt my tendon. Pull ups feel much better, and I switched to using a double pronated grip on deads using straps.
 

qbkilla

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I feel like one thing that really puts a lot of stress on the biceps tendon down at the radius insertion is doing movements where the wrist is supinated the entire movement. I like doing dumbbells now and pronating the wrist at the bottom of the movement, feels more natural and seems to put less strain down there on the tendon. So if youre doing preacher curls, let your wrist turn when going down in the negative to pronate, and supinate when in the last top half of the movement. It should feel natural.

I have strained mine doing supinated chin ups and mixed grip dead lifts. Any movement that keeps your bicep locked in at the supinated grip seems to put a lot of stress and hurt my tendon. Pull ups feel much better, and I switched to using a double pronated grip on deads using straps.
I agree with this based on feel. I feel alot of stress on the tendon doing DB and BB preachers, but, the machine I don't feel any stress (preacher curl machine). Not sure why, maybe because the machines just in general do some of the work or are safer for tendons>. Never tweaked a pec of any machine but have with heavy barbell or dumbbell press.
 

machomadness22

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Pretty easy to over train the bicep probably what leads to most injuries IMO. I just train arms heavy all reps under 10 reps and about 9 working sets? I haven’t ever had any issues and while they’re nothing freakishly massive I am happy with my arm size and my strength.
 

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