Training

Bored Of Bicep Curls? Bicep Curl Alternatives

The bicep is one of the smaller muscles in the body. Training the biceps aren’t as challenging as the squat, bench or deadlift. Even the most hardcore arm workouts don’t require much as much energy so you leave arm day feeling fresh, happy with a pair of arms sporting a major pump.  

When you understand this is the key to training arms. It’s about enjoyment and variation. Sure, you can go in and hit biceps with the same 3 sets of 10 barbell curls every week, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re going to take arm day seriously, then make the most of it. Try some of these variations to get a squeeze the most out of the best thing you can do in a gym and watch your arms grow.  

How to Bicep Curl 

  1. To perform the bicep curl, take hold of a barbell with a supinated grip.  
  2. Keeping your elbows immobile and into your sides, contract your biceps to ‘curl’ the bar to your upper body.  
  3. Contract hard at the top and – keeping tension – straighten your arms to lower the bar back to the starting position.   

Alternative Exercise 

Incline Bicep Curl 

How to: 

  1. Lie back on an exercise bench at approximately 30 degrees incline.  
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang directly downwards.  
  3. Keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the floor, contract your biceps to bring the dumbbells up to your lower chest.  
  4. Contract hard and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. 

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 10 to start – You’ll find failure hits you very suddenly with incline curls. ‘Feel’ your way through the movement and choose dumbbells on the lighter side.  

Dumbbell Concentration Curl 

How to: 

  1. Sit on a bench with knees spread and elbow resting against the inside of your thigh and a dumbbell in your hand.  
  2. Your thigh will keep your upper arm from moving and help place total tension on the bicep.  
  3. Contract the bicep and curl the weight, contract, and lower back to the starting position. Maintain complete focus on isolating the bicep throughout.  
  4. Repeat for the other arm. 

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 8 – 12 to start – gradually build the volume but focus on the mind-muscle connection.  

Zottman Curl 

How to: 

  1. Take a pair of dumbbells in your hands and curl them simultaneously with a supinated grip.  
  2. Contract your biceps at the top and rotate the dumbbells so that you are holding them with a pronated grip (palms downwards).  
  3. Eccentrically lower the dumbbells to the starting position – maintaining tension throughout – and rotate back to a supinated grip to complete the rep.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 8 – 10 

EZ Bicep Curl 

How to: 

  1. Hold an EZ bar in your hands – your palms should be halfway between supinated and neutral, almost facing each other.  
  2. Keeping your elbows steady, contract the biceps to curl the weight to your upper body. As always, contract hard and return the weight to the starting position.  
  3. Do not lock your arms after each rep, maintain tension until the set is complete. 

Recommend sets and reps: 

2 sets of 10 to start and gradually add volume 

Hammer Curls

 

How to: 

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells to your sides with a neutral grip.  
  2. Keep your elbow steady and curl the weight in towards the opposing side of the chest – i.e if curling with your right arm, aim to touch your left pec at the top of the movement.  
  3. Contract hard and return to the starting position before repeating with the other side.  

Another variation of the hammer curl is curling the weight directly upwards rather than in towards the chest. Experiment with what works for you. 

Recommend sets and reps: 

4 sets of 8 – You can go heavy with hammer curls, so include these early in your arm workout and finish with lighter exercises.  

Take-Home Message 

The bicep might be the biggest vanity muscle people love to flex but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any value. They’re one of the most important secondary muscles and contribute to stabilisation in a lot of exercises — so it is for the better that you don’t neglect them.    

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Isaac Syred

Isaac Syred

Writer and expert

Isaac has a passion for all things fitness, he's always been interested in football, playing at a high youth level, and has also enjoyed 4 years of competitive kickboxing. Over recent years Isaac has dedicated himself to continually improving in the gym, enjoying both functional fitness and bodybuilding styles of workouts.

He strongly believes that you should always have balance and likes to spend his time at the weekends socialising with his friends.


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