The basic bicep curl is probably the first exercise any guy learns how to do at the gym. Just pick up a dumbell and curl it toward your body – it’s as easy as that. Problems start to pop up when you get bored of the repetitive nature of the bicep curl. The exercise starts to yield diminishing returns as your muscles get used to the action.
Try these variations of the world’s most popular bicep-building exercise curl for a more effective and rewarding workout, and you’ll be ripping through your sleeves in no time. We’ve even arranged them into beginner, intermediate and advanced categories, so that you can advance at your own pace.
Start: Sit up straight at the end of a bench. With an underhand grip, hold two dumbbells straight down, at arm’s length.
Finish: Curl the weights toward your shoulders. Stop and squeeze when the dumbbells are 6 to 8 inches in front of your shoulders. Hold the contraction for a beat, then slowly return to the starting position.
Don’t lean back to help yourself lift more weight, and keep your upper arms against your sides throughout the exercise.
Seated Concentration Curl
Start: Grab a dumbbell with your nondominant hand and sit at the end of a bench, leaning forward slightly with your legs spread out to the sides. Rest the back of your weighted arm on the inside of your thigh. Hold the weight with an underhand grip and let it hang straight down. Rest your other hand or forearm on your other thigh.
Finish: Curl the weight up toward your face without shifting your upper arm, lifting your torso, or curling your wrist.
Supinated Seated Curl
For a more forceful contraction that combines the biceps’ two major functions (elbow flexion and wrist supination), start with your palms facing each other in the down position and rotate them as you curl so they face your shoulders at the top. Rotate them back on the way down.
The supinated curl can be done while standing up for a tougher workout.
To shift more of the focus to the outer head of your biceps (the part that produces a peak), do the curls while sitting back on an inclined bench. Start with the bench at about 75 degrees, and work your way down slowly. The more dramatic the incline, the tougher it will be on your shoulders.
Sit on a ball as you perform a seated curl or any variation of it.
You can vary almost any curl by curling one arm at a time. Do the complete curl with one arm before starting the movement with the other arm.
Curl one arm up as the other comes down.
Seated Curl with Static Hold
Curl one dumbbell halfway up and leave it there as you do the entire set with your other arm. Then switch arms and do the same thing. The isometric hold in one biceps makes this one a killer.
Bicep curls with static holds can be done standing up for a tougher workout.
Stand with your back against a wall while you perform the curls.