Barbell curls are classic exercises that aid in developing biceps, so if you have biceps that you’re not particularly happy with, this is one of the key workouts that help boost bicep size.
The barbell curl is also an essential workout, it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced bodybuilder or a complete beginner, you should always try to incorporate the barbell curl into your bicep workout routine.
In my experience, the barbell curl is pretty easy to learn, when I first started bodybuilding, I found that it had the biggest impact on my bicep’s development, and I was able to easily scale it up with heavier weights as I became stronger.
What Is Barbell Curl
The barbell curl is a weight-lifting exercise that involves elbow flexion, which means it primarily targets the biceps. It is essentially a variation of bicep curls that involves a weighted barbell.
The equipment list you need for performing a barbell curl is pretty simple, all you need is a barbell and weighted plates, but you can take it a step further and use weightlifting belts, and lifting gloves.
Barbell curls mainly target the biceps, but it’s a compound workout, so this means it will target many smaller muscles, this includes stabilizing muscles. This is a huge contributor to growing larger biceps.
How Are Barbell Curls Performed
Performing Barbell Curls:
- Find a comfortable weight
- Keep repetitions between 8-12 and have 2-3 sets
- Hold the barbell with an underhand grip
- Keep elbows close to your body
- Keep chin tucked and posture straight
- Lift the barbell slowly whilst controlling the weight
To perform a barbell curl, you first need to start with a weight you are comfortable with, not only is this important for effective muscle growth, but it also helps prevent any injuries.
Once you’ve found a weight you’re comfortable with, plan your sets, 2-3 set of 8-12 repetitions is ideal if you’re looking for muscle growth. Ensure this weight allows you to keep form tight for maximum effectiveness.
Hold the barbell with an underhand grip with your arms slightly bent, and it’s important to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible to target your biceps the most. Also, your hands should be slightly wider than your hips.
Keep your chin tucked, and your posture straight throughout the workout, this keeps your form consistent and prevents any potential injuries from bad forms.
Now, I want you to being to curl, slowly lift the barbell towards your chest, and ensure that your feel it in your biceps, to do this, just squeeze it. Now slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position whilst controlling the weight.
3 Benefits Of Barbell Curls
Now the reason you’re here, you want to know exactly why the barbell curl is beneficial for you, and why you should incorporate it into your bicep workouts.
1. Barbell Curls Improve Upper Body Strength
Barbell curls are an amazing workout that improves your entire upper body, it helps boost bicep strength which will allow you to perform other workouts like bicep curls more efficiently.
Barbell curls are an isolation workout, they will add increased emphasis on your biceps, but they will also target the forearms which also makes your arms look bigger.
Due to it working out your forearms, you will consequentially have improved grip strength, this is because it activates the brachioradialis muscle in your forearm. This means you will be able to perform other workouts effectively like pull-ups, bench presses, and deadlifts.
2. Barbell Curls Help Improve Posture
Barbell curls will help improve your posture, this is because whilst it targets your biceps, they will improve upon your posture. This is because the biceps support your shoulders, and this helps improve your head forward posture.
And having a good posture is important, this is because it helps keep the body properly aligned, and helps reduce muscle tension. Having good posture will also help with working out, it will help keep your body in a neutral position and avoid injuries whilst performing many different workouts.
3. Barbell Curls Strengthen Your Core
Barbell curls will also strengthen your core, this is because they will challenge core stabilization muscles. The goal is to remain stable whilst performing barbell curls, so you will indirectly train your core strength
Having a strong core is fundamental for many types of sports including running, swimming, and even golf. Core strength is important because it helps protect your spine, and improves posture, balance, and coordination.
Different Barbell Curl Variants
There are many different types of barbell curl variants, and they all have varying effects and target different muscles. Most of these variants are used to target your biceps but have slightly different effects.
Seated Barbell Curl: This type of barbell curl is similar to the standard standing barbell curl variant, but you sit down on a bench or a chair with your feet on the ground. This will isolate the biceps more and reduce cheating.
EZ Barbell Curl: This involves you using an EZ bar that is curvy in its design. The EZ bar doesn’t change much, it just allows your grip to be in a more natural position which will reduce strain on your wrists and forearm.
Reverse Grip Barbell Curl: This method of performing a barbell curl involves you holding the barbell with your palms facing downward. This adds extra emphasis on your biceps brachii and brachialis.
Alternative Exercises To Barbell Curls
There are many alternatives to barbell curls that you can use to train your biceps. Some alternatives include different types of equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, or even a pullup bar.
Hammer curls will target many of the same muscles as barbell curls, it will target the brachialis and the brachioradialis muscles. The main similarity between hammer curls and barbell curls is that they target the biceps.
They both involve moving the weight in a controlled manner and require the same form and technique such as keeping the elbows close to the body.
Cable curls also develop the biceps, and it involves similar movements to barbell curls, you have to move and curl the weight up towards your chest whilst keeping your elbows tucked in.
Cable curls have certain benefits over barbell curls it allows you to distribute the weight better, and you can easily and quickly change the weight, this is ideal for drop sets.
Chin-ups are a staple exercise for many bodybuilders, it targets upper body strength but most importantly, it targets the biceps. Chin-ups have a benefit over barbell curls as it targets significantly more muscles, and involve a greater range of motion. Also, you can perform chin-ups almost anywhere.
For bigger biceps, I highly recommend that you incorporate barbell curls, it’s essential for building bigger biceps. It improves upper body strength, strengthens your core, and improves your posture.
In conclusion, I still use the barbell curl today, and my favorite variant would have to be the EZ barbell curl. This is because it reduces the chances of injury, and keeps my wrists in a neutral position.