How To Perform A Biceps Barbell/Dumbbell Curl
The barbell curl is a basic move with a LOT of variations. Click the screen above if you haven’t already seen my video demonstration of this exercise!
Barbell curls build and strengthen the bicepsAdd a Tooltip Text. This gives a nice shape to the upper arm, giving you that enviable peak that always seems to attract attention ANYWHERE.
Ladies, you shouldn’t be afraid of this exercise. While guys will load up the weights to build big biceps, this exercise will bring a firm, curvaceous look to your arms; think Michelle Obama or those Oxygen magazine models. Who wouldn’t want arms like that?
To perform this exercise properly you need any of the following…
A barbell, EZ-curl barAdd a Tooltip Text, cablesAdd a Tooltip Text, dumbbells, resistance bandsAdd a Tooltip Text or other weighted objects (such as buckets filled with sand or kitty litter).
Because the equipment requirements of the barbell / dumbbell curl are so minimal, this is one exercise you can easily perform at home.
All individuals can perform this exercise—beginner through advanced, all levels.
Description of action:
- Grasp the weight(s) with an underhand (palms upward) grip.
- Stand naturally, with your torso upright. The weight(s) should be hanging in front of your thighs (starting position).
- Breathe in, and bend at your elbows to raise the weight(s).
- Keeping your elbows down, raise the barbell up to shoulder level.
- Hold for a moment while squeezing the biceps hard.
- Exhale and slowly (!) lower the bar back to your thighs.
Repeat 8 – 12 times, without pausing between repetitionsAdd a Tooltip Text (for best results, it’s important to keep tension on the muscles being worked!).
Perform this sequence (setAdd a Tooltip Text) three times; resting for only 45 – 60 seconds between each one.
- Keep your torso and upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.
- Do not swing the weight(s).
- Do not pin your elbows into your ribcage (you need to breathe, after all).
- Do not pause between repetitions.
- Control the descent of the weight back to the starting position – do not simply drop your arms.
- Complete the full range of motion from thighs to shoulders and back again.
- Choose a weight that is challenging, so that it’s difficult (but not impossible) to complete your last 1 – 2 reps in good form. Weights that are too light are just “busy work” for your muscles. Weights that are too heavy will affect your form and increase your risk of injury.
Remember; the idea here is to work the biceps, not impress your friends at the gym. If you are not performing the exercise properly, you’re wasting your time.
Variations On The Barbell/Dumbbell Curl:
For the most part, a barbell/dumbbell curl is a barbell/dumbbell curl. However, there are two main ways to vary this exercise, which provides some mental variety and targets the muscles in a different manner…
- Perform this exercise with different equipment and tools: use dumbbells, resistance bands, an EZ-curl bar, or a straight bar, rope attachment, or other various grip attachments hooked to a low pulley.
- Vary your grip: perform the exercise using an overhand grip (palms facing down) or a “hammer” grip (palms facing each other). If you use a barbell or EZ-curl bar, you can also grasp it with your hands close together (narrow grip) or farther apart (wide grip). Changing your grip (which will sometimes occur naturally if you perform this exercise with different tools) will help work and shape the muscle from different angles, and can challenge you in new ways.
And I always love a good challenge!