While the classic 21s protocol has lifters using a barbell or EZ-bar to perform the curls, there's no reason you can't flip the script and use another implement or stance to get pumped. This version from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. puts you in a position to make sure that all that volume doesn't wind up ruining your reps.
"Bicep curl 21s are one of the most proven ways to give your guns a quick pump; but very often, people don't maintain consistent form," says Samuel. After the initial first seven reps (from the bottom to the midpoint of the curl), things very often get sloppy."
The solution? Take away any chances that would allow you to cheat. "The spider curl generally puts you in ideal position to really squeeze your biceps; by doing it 21s-style, you'll find yourself getting optimal biceps contractions," he says. "Now you not only get to slow down each stage of the curl; you really have to."
To take on spider curl 21s, you'll need an adjustable bench and a set of dumbbells. If you need a pair, check out this option from Bowflex.
See the full workout below.
- Lean your chest on the back rest of the bench, holding a dumbbell in one hand. Don't sit on the seat, and keep your pecs above the top of the bench.
- Perform 7 curl reps, squeezing your biceps to raise the weight until your forearm is parallel with the ground.
- Immediately move on to 7 curl reps, lifting from a 90 degree angle at the elbow to the top.
- Finish with 7 reps of full curls.
The biggest challenge will be hitting the middle curls the right way. "As long as you don't rock your upper arm back and forth, your biceps wind up driving the motion in almost complete isolation, since your forearms and brachialis, key drivers early on in any biceps curl, can have only limited involvement here," says Samuel. Focus on keeping yourself stable to combat any shakiness.
Since form is so important and you're performing a ton of reps, you don't have to load up on weight for this routine. Do 2 sets per arm, without a break between them—since each full set should take around one minute, so you can work back and forth between arms (a full set of 21s one side, then the other) without rest, and each arm still has time for recovery.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health