Barbell Curl

  • Alternative Names: Standing barbell curl, straight barbell curl
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Biceps
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 2-3 with 8-12 reps each
  • Variations: Reverse, seated, wide grip, close grip, EZ, incline, bent over barbell curls
  • Alternative: Dumbbell bicep curl, EZ-bar curl, preacher curl

The barbell curl is perhaps the most effective way you can work your biceps and build bigger arms. The standing barbell curl not only increases the size and strength of your upper arms but also helps improve your grip strength while engaging your shoulders and forearms to some degree.

Barbell Curl Exercise Information

  • Alternative Names: Standing barbell curl, straight barbell curl
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Biceps
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 2-3 with 8-12 reps each
  • Variations: Reverse, seated, wide grip, close grip, EZ, incline, bent over barbell curls
  • Alternative: Dumbbell bicep curl, EZ-bar curl, preacher curl

Barbell Curl Vs Dumbbell Curl

Muscular Imbalance

When performing the barbell curl with heavier weights, the dominant side will compensate for the weaker muscle group that is unable to keep up with the increase in reps and weight. Therefore, you cannot correct or prevent this muscle imbalance when using a barbell. On the other hand, you cannot utilize your dominant muscle group when curling dumbbells because the weight is evenly spread across each arm.

Tension on Your Biceps

To keep tension on your biceps when curling a barbell, placing your hands wider will engage the inner heads of your biceps whereas a narrower grip will emphasize the outer heads. Twisting your wrists, while curling the dumbbells, helps in increasing tension on your biceps.

How to do Barbell Curls

Start the exercise by standing upright and holding a barbell (weighing about 100 lbs) with a shoulder-width, underhand grip so that the palms are facing forward and your elbows are close to the upper body. Keeping your upper arms still and your biceps fully contracted, curl the barbell forward until it is at your shoulder level. Pause for one second at the contracted position and then slowly bring it down to the initial position.

Standing Barbell Curl Tips

  • Avoid swinging your torso back to help in moving the barbell up. Make sure your body remains fixed throughout the entire movement.
  • Move the barbell down under control and avoid dropping it quickly.
  • For a greater contraction at the top, perform the exercise with a straight bar attached to a low pulley system.

Variations

  1. Reverse Barbell Curl: Involves holding the barbell in the opposite direction using a pronated grip.
  2. Seated Barbell Curl: Requires sitting upright on a flat bench and curling the barbell to your shoulder level.
  3. Wide Grip Barbell Curl: Is similar to the basic version except that you hold the bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  4. Close Grip Barbell Curl: Performed by holding the barbell with a closer-than-shoulder-width grip so that your hands are a few inches apart.
  5. EZ Barbell Curl: Involves curling an EZ bar as high as you can.
  6. Incline Barbell Curl: Performed by lying against an incline bench and curling the weight up.
  7. Bent Over Barbell Curl: Involves leaning your torso forward slightly and then performing the regular barbell curl.

Alternative Exercises

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