To judge whether your workout routine is still challenging you or if you have reached a plateau, you should assess your muscular strength and endurance on a regular basis. This assessment will also help you design a workout program and track your progress. One test you can use in your assessment is the biceps curl. To obtain the most accurate results, you'll need to perform the test properly.
Perform the biceps curl test using either dumbbells or a barbell depending on your training goal. The use of a barbell may be more effective because of potential discrepancies between your right and left arm. Prior to the test warm up for five to ten minutes. Grasp the weight with an underhand grip and rest your upper back against an incline bench set at 30 degrees. Curl the dumbbell up until your forearm is vertical and then return to the starting position and repeat. Grasp the barbell using an underhand grip with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Stand with your back against the wall and elbows tucked into your sides to prevent using momentum to curl the weight. Curl the barbell up until your forearms are vertical and then lower to starting position and repeat.
Muscular strength is the maximal force generated by a specific muscle group. Use this test to determine your one repetition maximum, 1RM, for the biceps curl. Begin by performing 5 to 10 repetitions at about 50 percent of your predicted 1RM. Rest for one or two minutes, and then increase the load to about 70 percent of your predicted 1RM and complete three to five repetitions. After two warmup sets, gradually increase the weight and continue to make attempts at performing the biceps curl for one repetition. Rest periods between attempts should be between three and five minutes. Your 1RM is the maximum amount of weight successfully curled using proper form.
Beginners or individuals who have not consistently trained their biceps in a while may find the 1RM test difficult to perform. A predicting 1RM test is similar to a 1RM test, except more repetitions are performed until fatigue makes it so you can no longer lift, a condition known as muscle failure. For example, after performing two warmup sets, select a weight in which muscle failure occurs between 2 and 10 repetitions. Record the amount of weight used and the number of repetitions you successfully completed into an online predicting 1RM calculator to determine your 1RM. The fewer repetitions performed will offer the most accurate results.
Muscular endurance is the ability to maintain a specific percentage of a voluntary muscle contraction for a prolonged period. Use a fixed percentage of your body weight to determine the weight in which you perform the biceps curl test. Use 33 percent for men and 25 percent for women in the biceps curl tests. For example, a 100-lb. female would curl 25 lbs. After selecting the weight, perform as many continuous repetitions as possible until muscular fatigue occurs.
Always perform an exercise test when you are fresh, but thoroughly warmed up. Follow the same protocol for each test to get adequate results. Schedule regular fitness tests in intervals ranging from a month to a year to continue to monitor your progress.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.