When doing most curl variations, your elbows are below the shoulders. But when you do curls with your elbows at or above shoulder level, it can create a new stimulus for upper-arm growth.
While the biceps’ contribution to shoulder flexion is small, curl variations with the elbows high can provide some novelty and a unique (and almost painful) contraction.
Think of the biceps as the tip of an iceberg, with the brachialis being the base underneath it. The brachialis only crosses the elbow joint and attaches to the ulna in the forearm, so it has no bearing on wrist supination. Unlike the biceps, brachialis strength isn’t impacted by shoulder or wrist position.
Traditionally, people train the brachialis by doing variations of hammer and reverse curls because the biceps are less effective in those wrist positions. The higher the elbows are in relation to the shoulder, the weaker the biceps will be. So any curl done with the elbows held high will force the brachialis to pick up the slack.
According to bodybuilding legend Larry Scott, you’ll only have about 30 percent of your regular biceps strength with these variations. So expect to go light for higher reps and really focus on flexing hard at the top.
Options that fit the bill here include ring or suspension trainer curls and overhead band curls.