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10 Biceps Curl Variations for Big Arms and Healthy Shoulders


10 Biceps Curl Variations for Big Arms and Healthy Shoulders
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When it comes to working out, we all have our go-to exercises. You know, the ones that we just love to hate because they make us feel so damn good afterward. For many, biceps curls are a tried and true exercise that never fails to deliver.

But what kind of biceps curl should you do? Standing alternating dumbbell curls? Seated concentration curls? Hammer curls? The options are endless!

Don't worry. We're here to help. Below are 10 different biceps curl variations that will help you achieve the big, strong arms you desire and keep your shoulders healthy and pain-free. So grab a pair of dumbbells and get started!

10 Best Biceps Curl Variations

You'll need to start doing more than just standard curls to increase your biceps size. Fortunately, several variations can help you target different parts of your biceps and make the most of your workouts. Here are 10 of the best biceps curl variations that you can start doing today:

1. Hammer Curl

The hammer curl stimulates the biceps muscles, just like the conventional curl. However, in this exercise, the forearms also receive a little more focus because the hands are rotated.

Combine these with regular curls or barbell curls to target the entire range of the biceps and forearms. Changing the hand position can also make the exercise more difficult.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand with a straight back and legs. Knees should be positioned below hips.
  • Keep your arms at the sides and grasp a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Support the weights by the outside thigh.
  • Flex the elbows to raise the lower arms and move the weight toward the shoulders.
  • Don't move your upper arms.
  • Hold the position at the top for a little moment.
  • Your palms must be facing each other, and your thumbs must be near your shoulders.
  • Lower the weight to go back to the initial position.

2. Kettlebell Curl

Give kettlebells a try with arm curls this week instead of using dumbbells! Because of their design, the curling motion, particularly the top contracted-to-chest position, is considerably tenser with kettlebells. Greater motor unit activation and muscle fiber innervation follow as a result.

You can perform biceps curls in a slightly unconventional manner by using kettlebells. The technique for kettlebell curls is the same as for dumbbell curls, but because the weight is under your hand, the lower part of your biceps and forearms will feel additional tension. When utilizing kettlebells, you might discover that it is simpler to perform hammer curls by turning your hand so your palm faces inward.

Steps to Follow

  • Take an underhand grip on two kettlebells and hold them by your sides.
  • Kettlebells should be curved toward your shoulders.
  • Continue curling until your biceps are pressed against the undersides of your forearms.
  • Hold the contraction briefly, then slowly decrease the weights until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Dumbbell curls are an excellent way to work your biceps without going to the gym. All you need is a pair of good dumbbells, and you're good to go. But before you start curling those weights, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, keep your back straight and your core engaged.

It will help you avoid injury and get the most out of your workout. Second, don't swing the weights. It may seem like a great way to get more reps, but it puts unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles. Finally, focus on using your biceps to curl the weight rather than your momentum.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand straight, holding both dumbbells in each hand.
  • Ensure that your palms are facing upward.
  • Curl the dumbbells as high as possible while maintaining biceps tension.
  • Return to your starting position after contracting your biceps.

4. Reverse Curl

The forearms and biceps are both worked during standard biceps workouts like curls, but the reverse curl is a terrific technique to emphasize the forearms. Turning the palms in during a reverse curl allows the forearms to undertake the bulk of the effort while the biceps assist synergistically.

Anyone who plays sports like golf, baseball, or tennis, which require forearm and grip strength, will benefit greatly from this technique.

Steps to Follow

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing down as you stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your hands facing forward the whole time, bend your elbows and curl the weights up towards your shoulders.
  • At the curl peak, pause for a few seconds before gradually lowering the weights down to the beginning position.
  • Repeat for the appropriate number of times.

5. Cable Curl

Cable and bicep curls might look similar, but they are different exercises. For one thing, cable curls involve a lot more range of motion than bicep curls. It means that you can build up more muscle definition with cable curls.

Additionally, cable curls work your muscles more evenly. With bicep curls, cheating and using your momentum to lift weights is easy. Cable curls, on the other hand, force you to use your muscles more evenly, which leads to a better overall workout. So if you're looking for a bigger, better curl, ditch the bicep curl and go for a cable curl instead.

Steps to Follow

  • Connect the low pulley cable and the rope extension.
  • Decide which weight you'll use on the stack.
  • Stand facing the cable machine with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Thumbs facing the body, grasp the rope extension.
  • Inhale deeply and slowly curl the rope up as high as possible while keeping your elbows by your sides.
  • At the peak of the exercise, squeeze your biceps, then gradually lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Continue performing the reps.

6. Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is a classic exercise for building upper body strength. But what exactly is this exercise good for? First and foremost, the barbell curl is an excellent way to build the muscles in your arms. This exercise specifically targets the biceps, the muscles in front of your upper arms.

When these muscles are strong, they can help you lift and carry heavy objects. In addition, strong biceps can also improve your posture and give you a more athletic appearance. For all these reasons, the barbell curl is a great exercise to add to your workout routine.

Steps to Follow

  • Use an underhand grip to grasp a barbell about shoulder width apart (palms facing up).
  • Stand erect with your back straight, feet together (you may find it more comfortable to place one foot back for stability), and arms fully extended.
  • Your body shouldn't be in contact with the bar.
  • Slowly curl the bar up while maintaining a forward gaze, tucked-in elbows, and perfect body stillness.
  • At the peak of the exercise, squeeze your biceps firmly. Then, slowly drop it back to the beginning position.
  • Repeat as many times as needed.

7. Incline Dumbbell Curl

The incline dumbbell curl is among the most effective exercises for building upper body strength. This exercise targets the biceps, the muscles that help flex the elbow. It can be performed with various weights, making it an ideal exercise for beginner and advanced athletes.

The advantages of this exercise go beyond just building upper body strength. The incline dumbbell curl also helps improve grip strength and coordination. Additionally, this exercise tones the forearm muscles and helps prevent elbow injuries. As a result, it is an essential part of any well-rounded workout routine.

Steps to Follow

  • Set the incline bench at a 45–65 degree angle.
  • Straighten your back while holding the dumbbells with a supinated or palms-up grip in each hand.
  • Curl the dumbbells as high as possible while maintaining biceps tension.
  • Return to your starting position after contracting your biceps.
  • Repeat.

8. Concentration Curl

You isolate the bicep muscle when performing a concentration curl to build strength and definition. You can do this exercise by sitting with your back against a bench and holding a weight in one hand. You then curl the weight towards your shoulder, maintaining a strong grip throughout the movement.

As you raise the weight, your elbow should remain stationary, and your upper arm should be close to your torso. It is a helpful exercise for targeting the bicep muscle and can be easily incorporated into any workout routine. So if you're in the mood to build some serious arm gains, don't neglect the concentration curl!

Steps to Follow

  • Take a seat at the bench's end with your legs wide.
  • Leaning forward, place your elbow on the inner of your thigh while holding the dumbbell in one hand.
  • Start curling your hands towards the shoulder while supporting yourself by placing your other elbow on the opposite thigh.
  • When you get to the top, hold the dumbbell there for a few seconds to feel your biceps working, then lower yourself back down to finish one rep.
  • Keep your hand off the floor until you have completed all 12–15 reps.

9. Preacher Curl

You can perform the preacher curl using a bench that allows you to sit down with your upper arms resting on a slightly slanted surface. With this biceps curl variation, you may focus on your biceps without activating any other muscles. Your upper arms are anchored on the pad while you are seated, which increases biceps engagement for increased growth potential.

Steps to Follow

  • Adjust the preacher bench's seat height so that your upper arms and chest rest on the pad as you sit down.
  • Leaning forward, grasp the EZ bar with an underhanded grip approximately shoulder-width apart and set it on the front bar rest.
  • Extend your arms and keep your wrists neutral. Tuck your chin in.
  • Squeeze your biceps and bend your elbows while lifting the bar until it is at shoulder level.
  • Throughout the entire workout, be careful to maintain contact between the upper arms and the pad.
  • Reset and repeat after slowly lowering your arms to the beginning position.

10. Zottman Curl

When it comes to working out, there are a lot of different exercises that you can do to target specific muscles. But sometimes, you just want an exercise that will give you a little bit of everything. That's where Zottman curls come in. Zottman curls are a great all-around exercise for your arms.

They work your biceps and forearms and can even help improve your grip strength. And because they're a compound exercise, they're also great for increasing your heart rate and burning calories. So if you're looking for an exercise that does it all, Zottman curls are a great choice.

Steps to Follow

  • Select the weight, then stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath and curl the weights towards your shoulders while maintaining a supinated grip.
  • Rotate the forearms into a pronated posture (palms down) after the biceps have fully contracted, then gradually reduce the weight back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the appropriate number of times.


1. Do bicep curls build muscle?

The bicep curl is a fantastic activity for building muscle. It doesn't matter how you do them; ensure a healthy diet so your body has enough energy to build muscles.

2. How many curls should I do per workout?

You can generally perform between 10 and 15 curls per workout, although this may vary depending on your fitness goals and experience level. When starting, it is best to err on caution and begin with lower volumes, gradually building up as your strength, endurance, and technique improve over time.

Additionally, it is essential to consider factors like rest periods between sets and the weight you are using when determining how many curls to do each workout. Ultimately, the key is to listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly to ensure you get the most out of your exercise session.

3. What muscles do curls work?

The muscles that curls work are the biceps and forearm muscles. These muscles are involved in flexing the elbow, a basic movement for many different activities, like lifting weights and performing everyday tasks.

4. Is it okay to train shoulders and biceps together?

Working out with your biceps and shoulders together can effectively structure workouts, especially if some exercises involve parts from each arm.

The Bottom Line

There is nothing more impressive than a set of big, bulging arms. And there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that you're the owner of those arms. Strong arms and shoulders can help you lift heavy objects, perform challenging tasks, and stay active as you age. In other words, they're essential for a healthy and happy life.

While there are multiple exercises for the biceps and shoulders, the biceps curl is the most common. But with time, you need to spice the bicep curls, which we discussed in the article.

These 10 biceps curl variations are easy to execute and have various benefits. So, try them out and make your biceps and shoulders healthier than before.

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