Benefits of Barbell Curls—Types, Reps, Sets, and More

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Written By Samarjit Sinha

Working out for 10 years | Has a home gym | CPD (UK) Certificate holder in Fitness

The Benefits of Barbell Curl – BB Curl Exercise Type, Sets and Form

Barbell curls are hard to pull off! They require much more balancing than regular small bar curls or dumbbell curls.

Also, the bar itself tends to be heavier, and you can load a lot more weight plates onto it.

The most preferred is the EZ barbell curl.

The second most popular will be the regular BB curl.

I personally often do pull-type isolation exercises instead of a BB curl though.

Benefits of Barbell Curls

What Are the Benefits of Barbell Curls?

Barbell curls are good for muscle growth and strength

Barbell curls help you build stronger biceps and improve your grip strength.

It is a versatile exercise that can be performed with lighter or heavier weights depending on your fitness level.

EZ bar curl
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Most beginners often start with an empty barbell and keep adding the weights later.

An empty Olympic barbell would weigh around 20kg, pretty good for a beginner or smaller people.

Barbell curls will increase your muscle strength and mass in your forearms and biceps.

You will increase your pulling power in general and will also increase your grip strength.

For your arms, this is a good choice as a weight lifter.

Barbell Curls Can Improve Your Arm Muscle Endurance and Grip

Barbell curls work the biceps muscles, which are important for everyday tasks such as picking up objects and driving.

Start with lighter weights at first and work your way up as you become more comfortable.TTC Fitness 7 FT Plain Barbell 28MM with Locks

Do barbell curl work forearms?

Barbell curl reps will help you improve your grip strength.

With awesome grip you can work out with various other gym equipment easily, for example, you can easily grip heavy lat pull up and down the bar, smith machine bar etc.

You will obviously do bench presses and deadlifts easier as well.

I feel your pull-ups will get better as well. Things will not get out of your hands anymore.

[BB workouts to get strong forearms]

Best Squat Rack IndiaBarbell Curl Has Strength Carryover

Barbell curls are beneficial because they allow you to move heavier weights than other biceps exercises.

Thus, the strength and familiarity with heavy barbells carry over to workouts like deadlifts and barbell rows.

Barbell curls might help improve balance and coordination

Since barbell curls are loaded in front of your body, and you can add weights easily, keeping balance can be a thing. Thus, if you continue doing barbell curls, you can improve your balance a little.

How to Prevent Common Injuries from barbell Curls

Elbow injuries are pretty common that come with many repetitions and ego weight lifting.

I personally find barbell curls hard to do, thus I do other bicep curl variations like hammer curls or just dumbbell curls.

Hammer curls can also train your forearm muscles better, though.

As per many types of research, barbell curls help with muscle or strength gain only at longer muscle lengths.

And when it comes to overall muscle strength development, there is no difference between dumbbell curls and barbell curls.

However, if you have time to practice, then just keep in mind the following tips to do barbell curls safely!

Incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your workout routine for the best results.

[DB vs BB]

Barbell Bicep Curl Muscles Worked

muscles worked by barbell bicep curl

Tips for the Perfect Barbell Curl

Tips for the Perfect Barbell Curl

Grip Width

You should just hold the bar right out of your shoulder width. And if you are working out in a public gym, then use gym gloves for yourself.

Public gym bars are often rusty and have no knurling at all.

Range of Motion and Bar Path

Bicep curl range of motion
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You need to be performing a full range of motion when curling the barbell.

Half reps will ignore entire parts of your bicep muscle fibres—you might be able to lift heavy, but you will not go far with this.

The bicep contracts due to the rotation of the arms and the intense contraction of the brachialis muscle.

Keep Volume and Intensity in Check

Use a weight that is challenging but still allows you to maintain perfect form.

Aim for high-quality sets of six to twelve reps when training the biceps.

And you should use higher volumes and sets, but it is important not to overdo it. Bicep muscles respond to this method more.

It is essential to spread out your sets and work out over the week in order to avoid overtraining and injury.bicep curl with fixed weight barbell

How many reps and sets should you do?

The bicep is a small muscle and can easily be overloaded easily with a typical 3*10 repetition routine.

Start with a weight that you can do for 8 to 10 reps with

For max hypertrophy, choose a weight you can lift 10 times with good form and two challenging reps left in the tank.

If you can do at least 15 reps with the same weight, then you should increase the weight.

Do as many sets as you can or just 3 to 4 sets

Those training for hypertrophy can do 5 to 8 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

For strength training, one should do 4 to 6 sets of 4 to 8 reps.

But the bicep is a smaller muscle, so don’t overload it with too much weight.

If you are working in an office and then coming home to work out then you can even spread your workout sets throughout the day or even throughout the week as well.

For example, you can do 2 sets before leaving for the office. Do 2 sets more when you come back.

It will not make you sore much, but you will be able to increase your volume of work.

What are the different variations of barbell curls?

There are mostly 4 or 5 different variations of barbell curls. If you do not have enough time to work out then you can simply do the seated or wide grip barbell curl and that would be it.

Barbell Curl Variations and Alternatives

1. Seated barbell curl: ‍

2. Close grip concentration barbell curl:

3. Reverse barbell curl:

4. Wide-grip barbell curl:

5. Close Grip barbell curl:

I would do this one!
The EZ bar curl is a less-intense variation that is easier on your wrists.

EZ Curl bars reduce wrist and elbow pressure by allowing you to curl with just your hands.

This bar is designed to put your hands in a more natural position to curl with. This research done on 2018 comments that the EZ variant should be preferred over the dumbbell curl since it activates more muscles.

BB curls and EZ BB curls have very slight EMG differences between them.

Or this…

The Barbell preacher curl focuses on toning your arms and is performed by sitting on a preacher bench with your arms resting on a slanted surface.

The seated barbell curl targets your biceps brachii muscles with a shorter range of motion than the standing version.

The close grip version emphasizes the long head of the biceps, while the wide grip version emphasizes the short head.

The reverse grip barbell curl is a unique exercise which incorporates the forearms more than any other biceps exercise.

[Grow bicep with food?]

mistake of doing barbebll curls

What are the common mistakes people make when doing barbell curls?

Not using enough weight

The goal of barbell curls is to build strong, muscular arms.

To maximise strength, curl with a weight that allows you to leave at least two reps in the tank.

Barbell curls sets and reps!

Choose a weight that you can do 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps with for beginners.

Advanced athletes may want to increase their workload by doing more sets with heavier weights, but with lower reps—something in the range of 6–8 reps.

If you see that you can lift that bar easily for 15 reps straight, it is time to increase the weight now.

Not using the correct technique

Bicep curl variations
Imge source:

To do barbell curls correctly, the upper arm should stay still, and the elbow should be locked in place. You should focus on using your arms only to lift the weight.

Improper grip width can lead to tendon tears.

To curl weights with good form, use a full range of motion.

Not using a full range of motion can result in less muscle damage and fewer results. Cutting corners will not give you strong and defined biceps.

Poor elbow positioning can also lead to less effective curls.

You can record yourself and review your movement later as well.

Taking Less Rests

You should always rest for at least 1 minute in between barbell curls.

You are training your both arms together, so they would need some rest to get back to their full working capacity.

Gripping the Bar Too Wide

Barbell grips

Gripping the bar too wide, a mistake can lead to biceps tendon tears. The correct grip width for your arm length is hip-width. But some also prefer a close grip bb curl exercise as well.

Too Much Body Movement

The position of your elbows should remain close to the side of your body, and only the lower arm should move.

Even when the bar is getting up and close to your collarbone, the elbows should still stick to your body as much as they can.

And no rocking movement, you are not in a rocking chair. A fixed arm movement pattern and a decent training Volume will increase your biceps!


What part of the bicep do barbell curls work?

The biceps brachii, brachialis, and to a lesser degree, the brachioradialis are the three main muscles targeted by barbell curls.

The forearms play an important role in supporting the biceps during this lift.

You will see a difference in your forearm size and grip strength.

What are the drawbacks of doing barbell curls?

  • Can not train each arm separately, which often leads to muscle imbalances.
  • Since with barbell, it is relatively easy to get heavy, people often sacrifice form.

What are some alternative exercises to barbell curls?

Chin-ups and Dumbbell curls are the top most-rated alternative exercises to BB curls. There are some other biceps curl variations as well, but they do need a barbell.

What is a good barbell curl weight?

Generally, it is said that at least 45 kg for 1 rep max is a good BB curl weight for men. For beginners, this should be less than half, so just around 15 kg. But I would say do not go for these standards, you should train as per your body. No matter the hard you train, you are not going to be like Hrithik or John Cena.

Always use the correct form for bicep curls, and you can even start by using an empty Olympic barbell.

What are some considerations to keep in mind when doing barbell curls?

  • Always learn the technique and form of the barbell curl before starting a workout.
  • Select weights that you are comfortable with, and start slowly to avoid injuries.
  • Always allow a warm-up and cool-down session before your workout is over.
  • Don’t do the barbell curl if you experience pain, dizziness, or nausea.
  • Keep your wrists straight and your shoulders stable while doing the exercise.
  • Make slow and controlled movements instead of jerky movements that may lead to injuries.
  • Allow for at least 24-48 hours of recovery time after training.
  • Curling with too much weight will cause your lower back to arch and rock, so use lighter weights to avoid this.
  • Curls should be performed with a full range of motion to induce the most muscle damage.
  • Shortening the range of motion at the bottom of the curl may allow you to use more weight, but it’s not likely to be more effective.
  • To make the most of your bicep curls, use a lightweight and get a full range of motion.
  • The elbow should stay still during the curl for maximal tension on the biceps.
  • Poor elbow positioning can lead to shoulder fatigue and decreased muscle growth.
Benefits of Barbell Curls—Types, Reps, Sets, and More 1

Who Should Do the Barbell Curl?

Strength Athletes

Strength athletes will benefit from increased biceps strength and stability.

This can increase your grip strength and carry over to workouts like deadlifts or other weightlifting exercises.

Physique Athletes

Don’t Judge a book by its cover but when it comes to bodybuilding, without a perfect bicep, judges won’t be happy. They do train their biceps a lot – if you are one of them, then you should do it too. But take advice from a trainer first.


The barbell curl has been a staple of strength athletes for a long time.

So be sure to make this exercise a part of your physical fitness regimen!

But I personally do not do BB curls!


I feel doing compound lifts makes more sense since I am skinny, and I am also not after defining muscles.

A daily set of chin is enough for my biceps.

But you can do BB or DB curls as much as you can.


Working Out for 10 years | Owns a home gym |Certificate course done on Improving Aerobic Fitness, Diet | CPD (UK) Accredited Certification on Fitness

🥊 About The Skinny Author

Yo Friends, this is Samarjit! A skinny guy who is building his tiny home gym.

I have successfully gained 10 kgs in 10 months going to commercial gyms. And I have been working out on and off for about 10+ years now.

I have gone swimming, done martial arts, Olympic lifts and body building type workouts!

I cancelled the gym subscription as I was more into making my home gym for workout. And getting ready, then getting my cycle and ride to the commercial gym seemed a drag after 10 hours in the office.

Thus, I needed a home that I can access at any moment!
And I started building my home gym!

I had to research a lot to build my home gym and decided to share effective, budget friendly home gym machines, nutrition to buy as per your goals here in

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