Muscles Targeted: Lying straight bar cable curls primarily target your biceps as the main muscle group along with hitting the brachioradialis (forearms) as a secondary muscle group. They also help to strengthen the wrists and target the front deltoids (shoulders) as stabilizer muscles.
Exercise Instructions: Lie flat on your back on a mat in front of the low-pulley machine with your feet flat against the frame of the machine while keeping your legs straight. Using both hands, grab a straight cable bar which is attached to the low pulley machine while using a secure underhand grip. Rest the bar on your thighs while lying completely flat on your back. Slowly curl the bar up toward your chest, squeezing your biceps for a one-count at the top. Slowly return the bar back down to the starting position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: Having impressive, muscular biceps ranks up there as the top fitness goal of many bodybuilders and regular gym-goers. This attention is a bit ironic, considering that it is the smallest upper body muscle. But considering the aesthetic appeal of well-developed arms, no one can blame the attention that this muscle group gets.
However, biceps are not just for the “gun show”. There are many real life benefits to having strong arms. You use your arms in almost everything that you do whether it’s pushing yourself up in the morning out of bed, opening a door, cooking your breakfast or driving your vehicle to work. All of these activities are just a few ways your biceps are engaged during the day. If you have weak arms, then you will tire out much more easily. Considering that you use your arms all day, you can see how having strong arms would make everything easier for you. Additionally, strong arms will help protect your elbows from issues like having inflammation of the elbow joint which is a rather uncomfortable injury. It also strengthens the wrists which you use primarily for typing, using a computer mouse and playing most sports.
Lying straight bar cable curls are merely a variation of the most effective exercise for the biceps (regular barbell curl). This exercise is a welcome variation especially for those who are becoming bored with their workout routine and want a new exercise to spice things up a bit.
Things To Avoid: Before performing lying straight bar cable curls, look at the entirety of your strength training program. Your biceps and triceps should be given equal attention. Many bodybuilders make the mistake of concentrating on their biceps only. If you spend a disproportionate amount of time training one over the other, your body symmetry will be affected and you might be exposed to elbow injuries. While your biceps are the ones on display, it is the triceps that provide the foundation of the arm muscles. Remember also, to put this exercise at the end of your upper body workouts, or you may be too tired to do the other exercises for the bigger muscles (always train a larger muscle like your back before moving to your biceps exercises).
As you can see from the exercise advice, your feet are braced on the pulley machine. In this position, it’s easy to be tempted to draw power from your legs. Refrain from doing so, and instead, consciously use your biceps. You cannot totally immobilize your elbows in this exercise, but you can minimize the movement in your elbow so keep them nice and tight against your body. Do not use momentum when moving the cable up and down. Choose the weight carefully, not too heavy that you have to jerk the cable and lose form, nor too light as to render the exercise useless.
Reps and Sets: Study your entire program and consider your fitness goals first before doing the lying straight bar cable curl exercise. If all you want is strong and toned arms, moderate your reps and sets. Do around 10-12 reps for 1-3 sets. On the other hand, if you want the maximum results in terms of mass and strength, do 6-8 reps with heavier weight for 3-4 total sets. Make sure to train your biceps only once per week for optimal results.
Other Exercises To Use: Other than lying straight bar cable curls, you can do barbell curls or cable preacher curls if you want to develop your biceps. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.