T Nation

Biceps and Supination

I recently ruptured my distal biceps tendon and have to have surgery. My surgeon is one of the top doctors in the region and specializes in this procedure and works with our local NHL team.

Anyways, we got to talking about the biceps and how it move/works and activates. It’s strange, I can curl my arm, but I cannot supinate it. I have a big ball of muscle half-way up my upper arm with zero lower bicep. It’s nasty.

The doc was basically telling me that curling with your palms up uses the brachialis a great deal more than the biceps. He says the biceps is activated only when the wrist is rotated. He stated that the brachialis will pop the biceps up and the rotation of the wrist will flex it, giving the appearance that it is being stimulated more than it actually is.

He was athletic and lifted weights. He said that most trainees overworked the brachialis and undertrained the biceps. He said a good example would be to have half of your “biceps” training to involve supination moves like standing alternate DB curls and incline seated DB curls.

I thought it was interesting, because I thought supination was optional. Go figure.

Well the biceps performs three actions: elbow flexion, supination and shoulder flexion. I suppose following this the optimal biceps movement would incorporate all three, e.g. incline biceps curls w/ supination. Holding the dumbbell off-centre with your thumb against the plate will help to increase supination resistance.

Now going off my extremely shoddy memory, I thought it was the opposite to what your doc said. That is, elbow flexion in a supinated position leads to improved biceps contraction, and a neutral/semi-supinated position activated the brachialis. But I guess if you can curl but you can’t supinate, that would mean your doc is right. If I’m wrong on this one I should probably go brush up on my anatomy again.

How long ago did you rupture the tendon? What were you doing?

I ruptured it last week. I was doing heavy DB preacher curls. I know. Dumb…

I can actually supinate my wrist a tad, but with severe pain and numbness. I can curl, but with significant weakness. I was with you when I thought that elbow flexion was all biceps, but he seemed to think the brachialis aided a great deal. He basically stated the best way to directly stimulate the biceps is with a supination exercise since the brachialis will aid in taking over when fatigue sets in.

Its all about leverage.

The biceps ‘cross’ over and insert unto the radius. The brachialis does not ‘cross’ and straightly inserts unto the ulna. Its due to the orientation/layout difference as to why the biceps has a supination action.

The brachialis only participates in elbow flexion and NOT supination. This is why curls that are non-supinated (hammers and reverse curls) tend to stimulate the brachialis a lot better than standard db curls. If you’ve never heard of it before… there are over-supinated curls or however you like to call it where instead of grabbing the db in the middle and curling, you instead grab the db with your thumb right up against the plate. This makes supination much more difficult and will give your biceps a run for its $$$.

Your body will use the most efficient muscle to do the job. In other words, the muscle that has the best leverage or is in the most biomechanically advantageous position will do the bulk of the work… When you PROTONATE, your ulna actually cross over your radius. This puts the ulna somewhat above your radius. This means that your brachialis has a more direct line of pull when flexing your elbow. Hence why reverse curls will pummel your brachialis much more so than biceps!

Sorry, rambled a bit and I can keep going but short story = Yes in addition to curling if you supinate simultaneously, it will help activate the biceps

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
I was doing heavy DB preacher curls.[/quote]
heavy DB preacher curls 2
honkeykong and NorCal916 0

The DB preacher claims another victim :frowning: I’m sorry to hear about that man. At least from what I’ve heard though biceps heal up really well. I know guys whose previously torn bicep is now their stronger one.

The biceps is actually a weak elbow flexor when compared to the other elbow flexors.