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How one can Do the Barbell Curl for Larger Biceps

How one can Do the Barbell Curl for Larger Biceps

shirtless person curling barbell

The primary barbell curl was most likely carried out about three minutes after the barbell was invented and it’s been a gymnasium 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 is perhaps seen as a quite simple motion — seize the bar, curl the bar, performed — however like many simple workouts, particulars can have a huge impact in your outcomes. Whereas there may be a variety of curls at your disposal, let’s break down why this biceps-building train ought to stay on the high of the checklist.

How one can 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 occurring behind the scenes that may take you from having first rate 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 fingers barely wider than hip-width and palms up. Your arms must be absolutely prolonged. Retract your shoulder blades and take into consideration holding your chest excessive and proud.

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

Type Tip: When you have common or shorter arms, the usual hand width will probably be efficient. When you have comparatively longer arms, you possibly can profit from gripping the bar a lot wider than hip-width. Gripping too carefully can put your arms into a big inner rotation on the shoulder, which may improve joint pressure.

Step 2 — Curl the Weight

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Contract your biceps whereas respiration out. Maintain your shoulders in place and proceed curling till your biceps are absolutely shortened.

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

Within the high place, your elbows ought to end just a little additional in entrance of the physique. That is okay since it’s additional activating the biceps (particularly the lengthy head of the muscle). (1) Simply ensure that to not let your shoulders come an excessive amount of into play and take over as a major mover.

Type Tip: All through the train, hold the within of your biceps gently in touch with the surface of your chest or serratus. This can be a nice technique to be sure you are within the right place for optimum your biceps recruitment, and prevents your elbows from transferring too far ahead or again. 

Step 3 — Return to the Begin

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

You will need to decrease the barbell underneath management. Intention for a two to a few second eccentric, which can recruit much more muscle fibers which may offer you a higher alternative at constructing extra muscle.

Type Tip: After every rep, take a full stock. Are your shoulders rolled ahead? Have your elbows moved again behind your physique? Try to 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 correct place.

Barbell Curl Errors to Keep away from

Like many workouts, the barbell curl is straightforward and efficient when executed accurately. When executed accurately being crucial phrases. Let’s have a look at a number of the widespread errors that may happen if you’re not being attentive to approach.

Too A lot Higher Physique Motion

Swinging your torso back and front as you curl a barbell up and down is the quickest technique to not see outcomes and presumably discover an harm. Not solely does it lower muscular pressure on the biceps, however swinging weights is a transparent indication that you just’re making an attempt to maneuver weights which are approach too heavy to carry with strict kind.

shirtless person curling barbell
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Heaving the weights together with your complete higher physique as a substitute of focusing the work in your biceps additionally will increase your possibilities of straining your decrease again. That’s the kind of doubtlessly power harm which may impression your complete coaching plan for the long-term.

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

Keep away from It: Maintain your shoulder blades retracted, and tense your abs and glutes throughout every rep to raised maximize muscular power. Management the descent for 2 to a few seconds to lower the urge to swing the weights and recruit your biceps way more successfully. 

Gripping the Bar Too Vast 

Some lifters mistakenly consider that bench urgent with a particularly huge grip will improve the width of their chest. Many lifters additionally make the error of curling with an extra-wide grip hoping it can sculpt their biceps otherwise. The physique doesn’t work that approach.

out of focus person performing barbell curl with weights in focus
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Taking an incorrect grip will increase the prospect of straining the forearm and biceps tendons on the elbow joint as a result of pressure isn’t being targeted 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.

Keep away from it: Check with the approach setup and grip width applicable in your limb size. When you have longer arms, you’re extra prone to require a wider grip to keep up relative stress on the muscle tissues because of leverage, well-outside your shoulders and as much as double your hip-width. In any other case, hold your fingers nearer to hip-width.

Advantages of the Barbell Curl

The barbell curl  has long-been used to construct dimension and power within the biceps. Right here’s a more in-depth 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 new lifters because of its fast studying curve, primary mechanics, and skill to load the train with ease. It’s a extremely efficient basic carry as a easy and efficient introduction to direct arm coaching.

Direct Biceps Coaching

The barbell curl is carried out purely with elbow flexion, which is a serious perform of the biceps and no different physique half. Due to this targeted work, it’s one of the efficient workouts to enhance dimension and power within the biceps, particularly.

Potential for Heavy Weights

If you wish to construct power, you must transfer comparatively heavy weights. The barbell curl permits you to put the biceps underneath the heaviest potential weights in comparison with different biceps workouts. This will contribute to higher total power, significantly with pulling workouts like deadlifts and rows.

Muscle tissue Labored by the Barbell Curl

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

Shirtless bodybuilder flexing biceps muscle
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Because of this, some lifters contemplate it a multi-joint (compound) train underneath essentially the most technical definition of the time period, typically after they exaggerate or emphasize the elbow-rising place on the high of the carry.

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 aspect 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. For this reason 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 aspect of the forearm. Each muscle 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 (aspect), and posterior (rear). Every head is activated to maneuver the arm in its respective airplane. Throughout barbell curls, the anterior delts contribute to elevating the arm when the barbell is within the absolutely curled place.

Who Ought to Do the Barbell Curl

Any lifter that steps foot into the gymnasium 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 help in growing muscle mass, enhancing arm and grip power, and harm prevention for efficiency athletes that will have a better probability of biceps or elbow accidents.

Energy Athletes

Energy athletes, together with strongmen, strongmen, and powerlifters, will discover that improved biceps power carries over to elevated stability throughout heavy urgent and pulling workouts, in addition to improved grip power. Mild 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 relation to constructing a extra muscular set of arms. The barbell curl can accommodate a lot heavier weights than many different biceps workouts, which creates extra programming choices for extra muscle-building stimuli.

How one can Program the Barbell Curl

Simply because the barbell curl is straightforward to carry out, don’t assume you possibly can simply stroll into the gymnasium and knock out random reps with no plan of assault. Beneath are some efficient programming choices that you should use going into your subsequent session.

Heavy Weight, Low to Reasonable Repetitions

To maximise power, three to 5 units within the 4 to eight rep vary is an effective place to start out. Use a weight that permits you to go away not less than two reps left “within the tank”, since curling very heavy weights to muscular failure can disrupt approach.

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

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetitions

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

Barbell Curl Variations

The usual barbell curl may be labored round utilizing particular variations, for a lifter’s particular person wants akin to harm historical past, or for basic change in coaching.

EZ-Bar Curl

This very delicate, very efficient variation can present some reduction 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 similar 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 pressure all through your entire vary of movement. There are two very efficient methods you can also make use of this variation. The primary possibility is to face upright and carry out the very same technical directions because the barbell curl, utilizing the cable pulley. 

See Also
How to Do Dips for Chest Size and Strength

A extra intense possibility 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 solely unimaginable. This will also be a terrific biceps finisher on the finish of your exercise, placing the emphasis on most the time underneath pressure to totally 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 underneath load has been proven to trigger a excessive quantity of muscular stress, which results in a better stimulation for muscle development. (5)

Intention for 5 to eight seconds to decrease the barbell from the highest place to totally 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 carry the load into the beginning place. As a result of the biceps contraction will not be a precedence, use coordinated leg and again drive to carry the load — don’t merely swing together with your again.

Barbell Curl Options

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

Standing Dumbbell Curl

The standing dumbbell curl is carried out practically similar 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 workouts (working each arms work as a single unit).

Barbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl places the muscle underneath 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 

Whereas 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 tough a part of every rep is within the absolutely shortened place on the high of the motion, not the underside.

This motion is commonly carried out together with your chest supported on the pad of a excessive angle bench, but it surely will also be carried out together with your elbows on the 90-degree angle aspect of a preacher curl bench with the arms perpendicular to the ground.


What number of totally different curls ought to I do in every exercise?

This all depends upon the objective of your exercise. If you’re purely after power, performing one or two biceps workouts throughout two days of the week will probably be very efficient. When you plan on chasing muscle positive factors, it might be sensible to dedicate some consideration to your biceps two or 3 times per week utilizing one or two workouts per session.

When ought to I do barbell curls in my routine?

In case your precedence is to get stronger and construct greater 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 targeted exercises, then add this in the direction of the tip of the session after coaching the bigger muscle teams.

Convey Again Previous College 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 traditional motion and also you’ll finally must make room in your sleeves for greater arms.


  1. Landin D, Thompson M, Jackson MR. Actions of the Biceps Brachii on the Shoulder: A Overview. J Clin Med Res. 2017;9(8):667-670. doi:10.14740/jocmr2901w
  2. Shaw, Ina & Shaw, Brandon. (2014). Resistance Coaching’s Function within the Prevention of Sports activities Accidents.
  3. Kubo Ok, Kanehisa H, Miyatani M, Tachi M, Fukunaga T. Impact of low-load resistance coaching on the tendon properties in middle-aged and aged girls. Acta Physiol Scand. 2003;178(1):25-32. doi:10.1046/j.1365-201X.2003.01097.x

  4. Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, Ok., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Coaching Quantity Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy however Not Energy in Skilled Males. Drugs and science in sports activities and train, 51(1), 94–103.
  5. Roig M, O’Brien Ok, Kirk G, Murray R, McKinnon P, Shadgan B, Reid WD. The consequences of eccentric versus concentric resistance coaching on muscle power and mass in wholesome adults: a scientific evaluation with meta-analysis. Br J Sports activities Med. 2009 Aug;43(8):556-68. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2008.051417. Epub 2008 Nov 3. PMID: 18981046.

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