Urs Kalecinski and Chris Bumstead Use a Flamingo Curl Variation to Build Olympia-Level Biceps

The top tier of the Classic Physique division are packing meat onto their arms in 2023.

Four-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead has been training with his top competition to kick off his 2023 off-season training. Earlier in March, the winningest Classic Physique Olympian in history trained back with his chief rival and 2023 Arnold Classic champion Ramon Queiroz. Then on March 12, Bumstead met up with Urs Kalecinski to train arms.

The duo performed a variation of flamingo curls to train their biceps in their lengthened position. A breakdown of their variation is below, but first, check out the entire arm workout, courtesy of Kalecinski’s YouTube channel:

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Kalecinski and Bumstead’s Arm Workout

Below are the exercises performed by the two Classic Physique competitors in the order they did them, followed by a breakdown of each. The weight and number of reps were not shown on camera:

Cable Cross Triceps Extensions

Cable cross triceps extensions are excellent for opening an arm workout after warming up because they maximize many of the desirable attributes of a triceps-focused movement. While braced with the correct body position, the elbows can achieve full flexion, emphasizing the triceps more and putting less stress on the rear delts and back.

Additionally, the cables’ setup allows the athletes’ arm paths to move naturally. The line of pull is better suited to their structure compared to a fixed attachment like a straight bar that would require a vertical line that can be uncomfortable given the width of their shoulders.

Preacher Curls

Classic machine preacher curls were the second movement, and both Kalecinski and Bumstead used a standard grip (thumb around the handle) while keeping their arms snug to the pad. The pattern of this training session was bouncing back and forth between a biceps movement and a triceps movement, but they were not supersetting.

Supersets are a staple for Kalecinski, who prefers to maintain motion at all times, whereas Bumstead only incorporates supersets intentionally every so often.

Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press

This heavier movement is an excellent mass-builder for the triceps as the load can often be higher thanks to the fixed bar path of the Smith machine, allowing for more stability throughout the range of motion. As with the cable cross triceps extensions, the close grip is meant to allow for the elbows to achieve maximum flexion, so the stimulus is on the triceps and not the chest.

If this were a classic bench press intended to train the chest, the elbows would not — nor should not — reach maximum flexion. The stretch and contraction should be in the chest. However, with a close grip, that stretch can bias the triceps. Elbow flexion is the key when triceps are the focus.

Flamingo Curls

The standout movement of the workout was the variation of flamingo curls used involving a weight bench. Typically, a flamingo curl is a stability movement rather than a biceps-builder. An athlete will stand on one leg, tilt forward while holding dumbbells, and effectively rep out spider curls.

A flamingo curl is a poor option if the goal is bigger biceps. The lack of stability will significantly hinder the weight that can be trained with, and the stability work does nothing to help bias the biceps. However, Bumstead and Kalecinski sit on a weight bench with their feet elevated on a vertical dumbbell.  

The back pad of the bench and dumbbell on the floor shore up the bracing issues from a standard flamingo curl, and the elevation of the legs offers two benefits. The first is getting the legs out of the dumbbells’ path as the legs are kept tight together in front of the torso. The second benefit is that elevation means the biceps will achieve a more extensive stretch in the fully lengthened position at the bottom of the movement.

Triceps Pushdown w/Rope Attachment

Next up is the standard triceps pushdowns with a focus on squeezing at peak contraction. During their reps, Bumstead and Kalecinski maintained fairly steep hip hinges to prevent the joints from stacking over each other. The extended arms and the cable should maintain a triangular relationship throughout the movement to keep tension on the biceps. If the arms and cable are aligned vertically, hence shoulders over elbows over wrists, the tension on the triceps is lessened.

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Typical hammer curls closed the session for the two elite bodybuilders. This move burns out the biceps and applies some load to the brachialis.

Six exercises are all they need to get a legitimate pump. Bumstead and Kalecinski will next meet on the competitive stage at the 2023 Olympia in Orlando, FL, on Nov. 2-5.

Featured image: @the.miraclebear on Instagram