Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
A Barbell Curl a weight training exercise which targets the biceps brachii muscle in order to develop one or more of the following attributes:
The barbell curl is the standard bicep exercise most people use in the gym to develop bigger biceps.
Muscles Worked when Performing Barbell Bicep Curls
Barbell Bicep Curls Form
- Deltoid, Anterior
- Trapezius, Upper
- Trapezius, Middle
- Levator Scapulae
- Wrist Flexors
- Stand with your feet apart for a firm base.
- Grasp bar with a shoulder width under hand grip.
- Keep your chest high
and your shoulders down and back.
- Keep your knees slightly bent in order to take
stress off your lower back.
swaying, swinging or lifting at the shoulders and keeping your upper arms at your
sides, curl the barbell up in a wide arc from your thighs up to shoulder level until forearms are vertical.
- Squeeze the biceps.
- Lower the weight in a controlled fashion until arms are fully extended.
when Performing Barbell Bicep Curls
Common Errors when Performing Barbell Bicep Curls
- The key to the bicep curl is weight
control. If you can't control the weight through the whole bicep curl,
you may be lifting too heavy.
- Take a
narrow grip (inside shoulder-width). This activates the biceps more strongly than
a shoulder-width or outside shoulder-width grip. You will not be able to use as
much weight as with a wider grip but you will get increased bicep muscle recruitment
during the movement.
can take advantage of the improved leverage on the wide grip by first doing a
set to failure in a narrow grip then immediately switching to a wider grip and
continuing till failure with that grip.
The following errors are potentially dangerous and can result in injury.
Avoid them at all costs.
Possible Injuries when Performing Barbell Bicep Curls
- Swinging the weight. This error is often made by people who
are using too much weight in an effort to use momentum to get the weight moving.
This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise by taking tension off the target
muscles. It also has the potential to damage your lower back.
- Overarching the back. The other common error is hyperextending (over-arching) the back. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
back. This is often done at the end of the set as the weight starts
to get heavy in an effort to keep going. This is potentially dangerous to your
lower back. If you can't complete the rep in the good form, go as far as you can,
hold it there for as long as you can, then lower the weight.
- Not wearing a lifting belt. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
Incorrect form may lead to multiple types of injuries including:
Barbell Bicep Curls Variations
- Torn ligaments/tendons in lower back, biceps.
Variations are intended to work different
subgroups of muscles, or work the same muscles in slightly different
ways. Biceps curls can be done using any of the following equipment:
- E-Z bar (also known as a "Bent bar")
- Cable machine
- Biceps curling machine
Although the exercises differ, a common factor of each is a
'curling' motion, where a weight—attached to an item of equipment
listed above—is moved through an arc, primarily using the strength of
the biceps. The bicep is contracted to lift the weight upward through
the arc, to a point where further movement is not possible. The biceps
is then extended, lowering the weight back through the arc, to the
start position. This contraction and extension together constitute a