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Bicep curls are a group of weight training exercises in which a person bends their arm towards their body at the elbow in order to make their biceps stronger.


The bicep curl mainly targets the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. The biceps is stronger at elbow flexion when the forearm is supinated (palms turned upward) and weaker when the forearm is pronated.[1] The brachioradialis is at its most effective when the palms are facing inward, and the brachialis is unaffected by forearm rotation. Therefore, the degree of forearm rotation affects the degree of muscle recruitment between the three muscles.


Close grip EZ barbell curl

A bicep curl usually starts with the arm in a fully extended position, holding a weight with a supinated (palms facing up) grip. A full repetition consists of bending or "curling" the elbow until it is fully flexed, then slowly lowering the weight to the starting position. The torso should remain upright instead of swinging back and forth, as doing so transfers the load away from the biceps and onto other muscles, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise. The elbows are also usually kept stationary at the side of the torso, as allowing the elbows to move in front of the weight's center of gravity removes tension on the biceps before full contraction is achieved.[2]

To maximize the activation of biceps, conducting this exercise using the full range of motion is generally recommended.[3] But for advanced trainers, they can apply a different variation of range in order to acquire some particular emphasis muscle activation. Some may argue that the tension on muscle is most significant during the mid-range, practice bicep curl with a half range of motion to let muscle generate the most force.[4]

The research found that the preacher curl targets the long head of the biceps significantly only when the arm was almost fully extended, and the range of motion was short. On the other hand, the incline dumbbell curl and the regular bicep curl activated the biceps throughout the entire range of motion. They may be more effective in maximizing the biceps activation.[5]


Dumbbell Preacher Curl

There are several types of bicep curls that use varying equipment, forms, and volume. But the general idea is still to target the biceps activation. Below are some typical variations using common equipment that are prevalent among trainers.


Barbell Reverse Curl


Cable Curl

Dumbbell Vs Barbell – Which is More Suitable for Exercises?

Dumbbells isolate muscles and allow wider range of motion.

On the other hand, Barbells stabilize your body and allow for heavier loading.

The choice between the two boils down to following key considerations:

Dumbbells are Suitable When You Want to

Barbells are Suitable When You Want to

Cable Machine

Body Weight


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MRI: tear of the distal biceps tendon

Injuries can occur due to incorrect form, careless mistakes, or "ego lifting". The most common injury caused by bicep curls is a tear of the biceps tendon.[20] There are two main causes of biceps tendon tears: excessive weight and overuse. Ego lifting is an attempt to lift weights that are heavier than the weightlifter's capability.[21] During ego lifting, the lifter's form will be twisted because the weight is too heavy, and if the weight is far beyond the lifter's strength, then there is a likelihood to suffer from biceps tears.[22]

Another injury caused by bicep curls is ulnar neuropathy, which lead to ulnar nerve conduction slowing at the elbow. This is caused by compression of the nerves against a weight bench during the exercise.[23] Though unlikely, bicep curl can cause a rupture of the pectoralis major muscle, which is a severe injury that occurs in the chest.[24]


  1. ^ " : Biceps Brachii". Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  2. ^ " : Arm Curl". Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "How To Get The Barbell Curl Right". Coach. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  4. ^ "5 Tips for Bigger Biceps". Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  5. ^ Oliveira, LF; Matta, TT; Alves, DS; Garcia, MA; Vieira, TM (2009). "Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls". Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 8 (1): 24–9. PMC 3737788. PMID 24150552.
  6. ^ "Dumbbell Incline Curl". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Supine dumbbell curl instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. May 28, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "Dumbbell preacher curl instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. October 14, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "Dumbbell reverse curl instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. August 14, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  10. ^ "Barbell preacher curl". Weight Training Guide. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ "Barbell reverse curl exercise instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. October 4, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "Spider Curl". Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "Prone incline barbell curl instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. February 25, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  14. ^ " : Barbell Drag Curl". Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  15. ^ TAYLOR, RYAN (August 10, 2023). "Benefits of an Arm Blaster for Upper Arm Bulking (Bicep Bomb - Really?)". AQF Sports Official Blog. Retrieved August 22, 2023.
  16. ^ "Overhead cable curl exercise instructions and video |". Weight Training Guide. November 27, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Cable curl exercise instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. August 29, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  18. ^ "Lying high cable curl instructions and video". Weight Training Guide. December 1, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  19. ^ " : Bodyweight Curl". Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  20. ^ "Biceps Tendon Injuries". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "The EGO LIFT". MUSCLE WAR. October 7, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  22. ^ "Bicep Tears". Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  23. ^ Krivickas, Lisa S.; Wilbourn, Asa J. (2000). "Peripheral Nerve Injuries in Athletes: A Case Series of Over 200 Injuries". Seminars in Neurology. 20 (2): 225–232. doi:10.1055/s-2000-9832. ISSN 0271-8235. PMID 10946743.
  24. ^ Haupt, Herbert A. (July 1, 2001). "Upper Extremity Injuries Associated with Strength Training". Clinics in Sports Medicine. 20 (3): 481–490. doi:10.1016/S0278-5919(05)70264-7. ISSN 0278-5919. PMID 11494836.