The first barbell curl was most likely carried out about three minutes after the barbell was invented and it’s been a health club staple ever since. This timeless train has at all times been dependable and efficient for constructing a set of bulging biceps.

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It may be seen as a quite simple motion — seize the bar, curl the bar, finished — however like many simple workout routines, particulars can have a big effect in your outcomes. While there’s a variety of curls at your disposal, let’s break down why this biceps-building train ought to stay on the prime of the checklist.

How to Do the Barbell Curl

Visually, the barbell curl looks as if a fairly simple train. You’re simply bending your arms.

The reality is, there is a bit more taking place behind the scenes that may take you from having respectable biceps to a having a great-looking set of arms.

Step 1 — Stand Tall and Proud

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Stand holding a straight barbell together with your palms barely wider than hip-width and palms up. Your arms must be totally prolonged. Retract your shoulder blades and take into consideration retaining your chest excessive and proud.

Take a breath and have interaction your core. Contract your triceps to verify your biceps are totally lengthened. This assists in recruiting all of the muscle fibers and ensures a full vary of movement. Fix your elbows close to your ribs. Your biceps must be barely touching the surface of your chest.

Form Tip: If you will have common or shorter arms, the usual hand width can be efficient. If you will have comparatively longer arms, you may profit from gripping the bar a lot wider than hip-width. Gripping too intently can put your arms into a major inside rotation on the shoulder, which might improve joint pressure.

Step 2 — Curl the Weight

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Contract your biceps whereas respiratory out. Keep your shoulders in place and proceed curling till your biceps are totally shortened.

As you attain the highest of the motion, curl your wrists in direction of your physique and grip the barbell tightly. This helps to completely contract your biceps whereas additionally strengthening your forearms, wrists, and grip.

In the highest place, your elbows ought to end slightly additional in entrance of the physique. This is okay since it’s additional activating the biceps (particularly the lengthy head of the muscle). (1) Just make certain to not let your shoulders come an excessive amount of into play and take over as a major mover.

Form Tip: Throughout the train, maintain the within of your biceps gently involved with the surface of your chest or serratus. This is an effective way to ensure you are within the appropriate place for max your biceps recruitment, and prevents your elbows from shifting too far ahead or again. 

Step 3 — Return to the Start

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Take a brief breath in earlier than you decrease the load below management. Again, be aware of the place the within of your biceps are touching (chest and serratus). Keep your shoulders pulled again.

It is essential to decrease the barbell below management. Aim for a two to 3 second eccentric, which can recruit much more muscle fibers which might give you a higher alternative at constructing extra muscle.

Form Tip: After every rep, take a full stock. Are your shoulders rolled ahead? Have your elbows moved again behind your physique? You must be ending the rep precisely the way you began — with the within of your biceps barely exterior your chest or serratus, your elbows in entrance of your physique, and your shoulder blades retracted together with your chest excessive and proud. Don’t start your subsequent rep till you’re in the appropriate place.

Barbell Curl Mistakes to Avoid

Like many workout routines, the barbell curl is straightforward and efficient when executed appropriately. When executed appropriately being an important phrases. Let’s have a look at among the frequent errors that may happen in case you are not listening to approach.

Too Much Upper Body Movement

Swinging your torso back and front as you curl a barbell up and down is the quickest method to not see outcomes and probably discover an damage. Not solely does it lower muscular rigidity on the biceps, however swinging weights is a transparent indication that you simply’re making an attempt to maneuver weights which are approach too heavy to raise with strict type.

shirtless person curling barbellCredit: Lenar Nigmatullin / Shutterstock

Heaving the weights together with your complete higher physique as an alternative of focusing the work in your biceps additionally will increase your probabilities of straining your decrease again. That’s the kind of probably continual damage which might impression your complete coaching plan for the long-term.

The solely exception to that is if you intentionally use your complete physique to maneuver very heavy weights with a purpose to emphasize the eccentric (decreasing section) with strict management. This is a particular train variation, which can be mentioned in a later part. It is an intentional motion to unfold drive by way of your legs, again, and shoulders, reasonably than swinging your hips and placing stress completely in your decrease again.

Avoid It: Keep your shoulder blades retracted, and tense your abs and glutes throughout every rep to higher maximize muscular energy. Control the descent for 2 to 3 seconds to lower the urge to swing the weights and recruit your biceps way more successfully. 

Gripping the Bar Too Wide 

Some lifters mistakenly imagine that bench urgent with an especially vast grip will improve the width of their chest. Many lifters additionally make the error of curling with an extra-wide grip hoping it would sculpt their biceps in another way. The physique doesn’t work that approach.

out of focus person performing barbell curl with weights in focusCredit: Kzenon / Shutterstock

Taking an incorrect grip will increase the possibility of straining the forearm and biceps tendons on the elbow joint as a result of rigidity isn’t being centered on the muscle itself. When stress is an excessive amount of for the arm musculature to tolerate, and as you fatigue throughout a set, it creates put on and tear resulting in the biceps tendon tears.

Avoid it: Refer to the approach setup and grip width applicable in your limb size. If you will have longer arms, you’re extra prone to require a wider grip to keep up relative stress on the muscular tissues resulting from leverage, well-outside your shoulders and as much as double your hip-width. Otherwise, maintain your palms nearer to hip-width.

Benefits of the Barbell Curl

The barbell curl  has long-been used to construct measurement and energy within the biceps. Here’s a better have a look at a number of advantages of that is foundational train.

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The barbell curl is a superb train for brand spanking new lifters resulting from its fast studying curve, primary mechanics, and skill to load the train with ease. It’s a extremely efficient basic raise as a easy and efficient introduction to direct arm coaching.

Direct Biceps Training

The barbell curl is carried out purely with elbow flexion, which is a significant perform of the biceps and no different physique half. Because of this centered work, it’s one of the vital efficient workout routines to enhance measurement and energy within the biceps, particularly.

Potential for Heavy Weights

If you need to construct energy, it is advisable transfer comparatively heavy weights. The barbell curl permits you to put the biceps below the heaviest potential weights in comparison with different biceps workout routines. This can contribute to higher general energy, significantly with pulling workout routines like deadlifts and rows.

Muscles Worked by the Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is basically a single-joint (isolation) train that is among the best methods to focus on the biceps, primarily, and the forearms as secondary movers. However, the barbell curl does incorporate a small diploma of motion on the shoulder joint which additionally prompts the anterior deltoid (entrance shoulder muscle) as an extra mover.

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For this purpose, some lifters think about it a multi-joint (compound) train below essentially the most technical definition of the time period, typically once they exaggerate or emphasize the elbow-rising place on the prime of the raise.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps are a two-headed muscle with the lengthy head positioned on the outer a part of the muscle and the quick head on the internal facet of the muscle. The lengthy head attaches on the shoulder blade whereas the quick head attaches on the higher arm, and each heads join close to the elbow. This is why each heads are activated when bending the elbow and the lengthy head is recruited to maneuver the arm on the shoulder.


The forearms embody the wrist flexors aligned with the palm-side of and the wrist extensors on the highest facet of the forearm. Both muscular tissues work actively to carry and stabilize the barbell as you curl the load.

Anterior Deltoid

The deltoid (shoulder muscle) is comprised of three separate heads — the anterior (entrance), lateral (facet), and posterior (rear). Each head is activated to maneuver the arm in its respective aircraft. During barbell curls, the anterior delts contribute to elevating the arm when the barbell is within the totally curled place.

Who Should Do the Barbell Curl

Any lifter that steps foot into the health club can profit from together with barbell curls of their program. It’s a easy and versatile motion that may be programmed for a number of targets.

This train will assist in growing muscle mass, enhancing arm and grip energy, and damage prevention for efficiency athletes which will have a better likelihood of biceps or elbow accidents.

Strength Athletes

Strength athletes, together with strongmen, strongmen, and powerlifters, will discover that improved biceps energy carries over to elevated stability throughout heavy urgent and pulling workout routines, in addition to improved grip energy. Light weight, high-rep barbell curls may also have restorative and preventative joint well being advantages. (2, 3)

Physique Athletes

The barbell curl can present any physique-focused lifter essentially the most bang for the buck in the case of constructing a extra muscular set of arms. The barbell curl can accommodate a lot heavier weights than many different biceps workout routines, which creates extra programming choices for extra muscle-building stimuli.

How to Program the Barbell Curl

Just as a result of the barbell curl is straightforward to carry out, don’t suppose you may simply stroll into the health club and knock out random reps with no plan of assault. Below are some efficient programming choices that you should utilize going into your subsequent session.

Heavy Weight, Low to Moderate Repetitions

To maximize energy, three to 5 units within the 4 to eight rep vary is an effective place to begin. Use a weight that permits you to depart a minimum of two reps left “in the tank”, since curling very heavy weights to muscular failure can disrupt approach.

A relaxation interval of two minutes and thirty seconds to 3 minutes after every set will guarantee you’ll be able to proceed lifting with maximal effort.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Repetitions

To maximize muscle development, purpose for three to 4 units within the six to 12 rep vary. This offers you a bump in coaching quantity, which is useful for constructing muscle. (4) The addition of units and quantity will mean you can develop higher coordination of the motion and thus higher recruitment of the biceps muscle time beyond regulation. 

Barbell Curl Variations

The normal barbell curl might be labored round utilizing particular variations, for a lifter’s particular person wants resembling damage historical past, or for basic change in coaching.

EZ-Bar Curl

This very refined, very efficient variation can present some aid on the wrist joints and elbow joints if sustaining a palms-up (supinated) grip on a straight barbell causes discomfort. The angled grip decreases the wrist mobility wanted to keep up a full palms-up grip, which reduces pressure on the wrist, forearm, and elbow tendons.

The general execution of this train is an identical to the straight barbell curl. The angled grip additionally barely alters recruitment and incorporates extra forearm musculature into the train.

Cable Curl(s)

Attaching a straight bar to low-pulley cable will present fixed rigidity all through your entire vary of movement. There are two very efficient methods you may make use of this variation. The first choice is to face upright and carry out the very same technical directions because the barbell curl, utilizing the cable pulley. 

A extra intense choice is to lie on the bottom and carry out the identical curling motion. This is among the most strict curl variations since dishonest with a swinging torso is just unimaginable. This may also be an awesome biceps finisher on the finish of your exercise, placing the emphasis on most the time below rigidity to completely exhaust all muscle fibers.

Eccentric Barbell Curl

This variation is all about overloading the biceps through the decreasing portion of the rep. The lengthening of a muscle below load has been proven to trigger a excessive quantity of muscular stress, which ends up in a better stimulation for muscle development. (5)

Aim for 5 to eight seconds to decrease the barbell from the highest place to completely straight arms. This particular variation is one time when it’s acceptable to make use of a heavier-than-normal weight and carry out a cheat rep to convey the load into the beginning place. Because the biceps contraction will not be a precedence, use coordinated leg and again drive to raise the load — don’t merely swing together with your again.

Barbell Curl Alternatives

The time-tested barbell curl might be extraordinarily helpful, however some alternate options supply particular advantages the basic barbell motion can’t match. Here are some choices to think about implementing into your exercise. 

Standing Dumbbell Curl

The standing dumbbell curl is carried out practically an identical to the barbell curl with a strict upright stance and no swinging torso.

The dumbbells’ largest benefit is the power to work every arm independently, which strengthens any discrepancies that always develop naturally from performing bilateral-only workout routines (working each arms work as a single unit).

Barbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl places the muscle below extra stress within the decrease portion of the vary of movement. This distinctive stimulus and intense contraction assists in triggering extra muscle development.

With the preacher bench, your arms are set at a downward angle. Your higher arms and shoulders are supported by the pad to attenuate any undesirable motion and to assist isolate your biceps extra successfully.

Barbell Spider Curl 

While this seems considerably much like a preacher curl with the higher arm angled from the physique, the important thing distinction is that essentially the most troublesome a part of every rep is within the totally shortened place on the prime of the motion, not the underside.

This motion is usually carried out together with your chest supported on the pad of a excessive angle bench, nevertheless it may also be carried out together with your elbows on the 90-degree angle facet of a preacher curl bench with the arms perpendicular to the ground.


How many various curls ought to I do in every exercise?

This all is dependent upon the objective of your exercise. If you’re purely after energy, performing one or two biceps workout routines throughout two days of the week can be very efficient. If you propose on chasing muscle good points, it might be sensible to dedicate some consideration to your biceps two or thrice per week utilizing one or two workout routines per session.

When ought to I do barbell curls in my routine?

If your precedence is to get stronger and construct larger biceps, it might be greatest to carry out them originally of the exercise. If you’re merely trying so as to add some direct biceps coaching into your upper-body centered exercises, then add this in direction of the tip of the session after coaching the bigger muscle teams.

Bring Back Old School Curls

The barbell curl is a time-tested train for performance-based coaching, in addition to physique-focused lifters. Make room in your coaching plan for this basic motion and also you’ll ultimately must make room in your sleeves for larger arms.


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