Barbell curls is a standard exercise for increasing the strength and size of your biceps muscle group. Performing the barbell curl correctly is essential for developing big biceps while minimizing your potential for injury.
Muscle Groups Worked
Instructions for Performing Barbell Curls
- Grasp the bar using an under handing grip (palms facing you)
with your hands positioned shoulder width apart (hands should be about
18 - 22 inches apart..
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Allow the barbell to hang at arm's length
in front of you, with your hands, arms, and shoulders aligned.
focusing on your biceps and keeping your upper-arms still, raise the weights in a semi-circle upwards at a medium speed, being careful not to move the position of your elbows.
- Lift the bar
upwards to your chest.
- Once you've lifted the bar as high as you
can, squeeze your biceps and then begin slowly lowering the bar down
until your arms are nearly straight, again.
Comments / Tips Regarding Barbell Curls
- Squeeze at the top of each movement for maximum gain.
not swing the weight. Keep constant steady control. It's important not
to shift the stress of the weights to other muscle groups. You're
focusing on your biceps, so let them do the work until you can't work
It's crucial that you don't lean backwards
or swing the weight during barbell curls. Leaning back causes you to
cheat by using your back to lift the weight, and swinging the weight
causes you to cheat by using momentum to get the bar to the top of the
lift. Both cheating methods deemphasize your biceps during the lift.
If you're having trouble with leaning back
and/or swinging the weight, you might want to place your back against a
wall or other vertical surface and position your feet about 2-3 ft in
front on you for balance. Doing this will help you to keep the emphasis
entirely on your biceps.
- Don't lower the weights too quickly. Much of the benefit in doing curls is in the lowering of the weights back down.
- Grabbing the bar wider will work the outer head of the bicep more. Grabbing the bar closer (less than shoulder width grip) will start to work the inner portion of the bicep.
Bicep Curl Variations
Wide-Grip Barbell Curls.
Wide-Grip Barbell Curls is a variation of
barbell curls that emphasizes the inner portion of your biceps. The
grip is typically wide enough so that your wrists are slightly turned
outward. Typically 6 inches past shoulder width.
Close-Grip Barbell Curls. Close-Grip Barbell Curls is a variation of
barbell curls that emphasizes the outer portion of your biceps.
Performing Close-Grip Barbell Curls is similar to performing the
wide-grip variety, except that you hold the bar with about 12 inches of
separation between your hands.
EZ Curl Bar. If you find that your wrists are a bit
uncomfortable during barbell curls, you can try performing EZ-bar
Curls. Performing EZ-Bar Curls is just like performing regular barbell
curls, except that you use an EZ-bar. The EZ-bar has bends in it that
enable your palms to face each other a bit so as to relieve some of the
strain that some trainees experience in their wrists.
When you perform EZ-Bar Curls,
outer-most bends in the bar with an underhand grip so that your palms
are tilted toward one another. When you curl with the EZ-bar, all the
same rules apply as when you're performing regular barbell curls. Using
the inside grips would be similar to perfoming a close grip barbell
curl, as it would work primarily the outermost portion of the bicep
Close-Grip Barbell Concentration Curls. Close-Grip Concentration Barbell Curls is an exercise designed to isolate the bicep. It is perfomed as follows:
- Sit on the edge of a bench and
position your feet about 24 inches apart.
- Grasp either a barbell or an
EZ-bar with an underhand grip, and with about 6 inches of separation
between your hands.
- Bend forward at the waist and place your
elbows on your inner thighs about 4 inches from your knees,.
- While focusing on your biceps, lift the bar until your
forearms touch your biceps.
- Keep you arms close to your body. Do not swing the weight.
- Squeeze the biceps in the final
- Lower the bar in a slow controlled fashion.
Preacher Curl. The preacher curl is another bicep isolation exercise. ATo do these, you'll need a preacher curl
bench and a barbell or ez curl bar (it can also be performed with dumbbells. To perform this exercise:
- First adjust the height of the preacher bench
relative to your shoulders. Depending on the type of equipment you
have, you'll adjust either the height of the preacher bench or the
position of the seat.
- Make sure that your shoulders
aren't elevated by the preacher bench and you're not hunching over the
- Once you've adjusted the preacher bench, you can grasp
the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip.
elbows should be resting on the pad. Start with the weight in the top
position (bar should be even with your nose in this starting position).
- Slowly lower the bar in a smooth controlled motion.
- Use the same smooth controlled motion to lift the bar towards your
chin. You'll notice that the lift is more
difficult in the beginning than towards the end.
- Avoid rocking or
heaving the weight in an attempt to start the lift.
- Work the biceps hard by slowly
lifting the weight under control, both upwards and during the descent.
- Avoid relaxing your muscles when you raise the weight (top position)