4 Movements to Protect Your Biceps

From the deadlift to the tire flip, protect yourself from one of the most common injuries in CrossFit.

Logan Gelbrich, CCFT January 19, 2017


The torn biceps tendon is a common injury in strength and conditioning. As someone who’s been affected by it directly, here are four movements to be aware of to protect your biceps:

The deadlift

It is not uncommon for powerlifters to tear a biceps tendon (usually the “under hand” with a mixed grip). Pulling with your arms may leave the biceps tendon vulnerable at maximal loads. Be sure to stretch up through all slack in your arms when pulling big loads off the floor. 

The front/back lever

Spending time on the gymnastics rings is fun and useful training, and loading your joints heavily isn’t just exclusive to lifting weights. Levers and even variations of movements like the iron cross can be suspect for vulnerable biceps.

The tire flip

I personally fell victim to a tear when I was flipping a 1,000-pound tire, and it can happen at lighter weights, as well. Though the tire flip is useful and a seemingly raw movement, there are points of performance that should be respected. You can protect the biceps while flipping tires by keeping your shoulders and hands as two points of contact. Without definitive shoulder contact, the tire turns into a biceps curl, and at 1,000 pounds, there’s no such thing. Connect with the shoulders to keep your biceps safe.

Atlas stone work

The size and shape of Atlas stones can illicit some poor positions that leave the biceps vulnerable. Pulling the stone with bent elbows off the floor and loading/shouldering the stone with your arms under the stone in the lap position can be biceps suicide. Keep your arms straight off the floor and over the top of the stone (recruiting the lats) when coming out of the lap position.


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About the Author

Logan Gelbrich, CCFT

Logan Gelbrich, CCFT

Logan Gelbrich, CCFT, is the owner of DEUCE Gym in Venice Beach, California and ORIGINAL Nutritionals, a CleanAthlete sports nutrition company. He's a four-year alum of the nationally acclaimed University of San Diego baseball program, as well as an ex-pro with the San Diego Padres as a catcher. In addition, he currently travels the world coaching the CrossFit Strongman Seminar.