It’s actually pretty easy to mess up this seemingly effortless exercise.

February 07, 2017

When it comes to a go-to move to crank out during arm day at the gym, it doesn’t get much simpler than bicep curls, right? As it turns out, though, it’s actually pretty easy to mess up this seemingly effortless exercise. If you don’t use correct form on the cable machine, you could be seriously missing out on all the great toning and arm-sculpting benefits of bicep curls—and possibly even hurting yourself in the process. In this video Planet Fitness trainer Maria Almonte shows you how to perfect your form when doing bicep curls.

To start, make sure you’re standing with your legs hip-width apart (as opposed to standing with your feet pressed together beneath your body). This gives you more stability throughout the exercise. Pay close attention to your knees and notice where they are positioned. Are they completely locked still? If so, soften them with a slight bend in order to avoid knee strain.

Next, be sure to keep your elbows glued in at your sides as you lower your arms straight down in front of you, and then back up to starting position. If you’re unable to keep your elbows still—such as if they keep moving up and down—it could mean that you’re using excessively heavy weights. In that case, drop the pounds down a notch or two until you can perfect your form. Finally, don’t forget about your back! Make sure it’s straight and isn’t arching. To do this, you’ll have to engage your abs and lower back muscles. This is important, since if bicep curls are consistently done incorrectly, it can lead to some nasty back strain over time.