How to do bicep curls with dumbbells, cable and barbell. The primary muscle worked is the bicep, secondary muscles worked is the muscles of the forearms and the brachialis. There are many different ways and variations of doing the bicep curl, a few of the best and most common ones are listed below.

Bicep Curls Different Grips

  • Normal – Grip the bar just wider than shoulder width, this directly works the middle of the bicep.
  • Wide – This grip works the inside of the to perform bicep curls
  • Narrow – This grip works the outside of the bicep and the outside arm muscle the brachialis.

Bicep Curls Equipment

Barbell – Most common equipment for performing arm curls

Dumbbells – Allows for greater control and movement than using a barbell. It allows you to rotate your wrists to change the target area of the bicep. Palms facing forward focuses on the middle of the bicep, palms facing inward will focus on the outside of the bicep and the brachialis which is the outside arm muscle between your bicep and tricep.

Curl bar – Designed just for the arm curl and the tricep extension, the different angles on the bar reduces the stress on the wrists. Rather than using a normal barbell, the curl bar allows you to focus more on working the bicep with less stress on the wrists.

Cable machine – The cable machine allows different attachments, straight bar, curl bar, single hand grips.

Preacher bench – The preacher bench is very good because it keeps your upper arms in a fixed position so it does not allow body rocking to aid with the curl movement. It also allows for complete focus and isolation on the bicep curl.

Other variations

Seated – Using a bench and dumbbells allows you to perform dumbbell curls in a seated position, it keeps your back straight helping to improve your technique.

Incline bench – I have found this to be one of the most effective ways to do dumbbell arm curls, allows for a large range of motion during the curl, you can almost straighten your arms during the technique which gives extra stress on the bicep.

The 21 Technique – Not to be used all the time, but great for adding variety and shock treatment to your biceps. All together you perform 21 reps, 7 reps using full motion, 7 reps using half motion from top to middle and 7 reps half motion bottom position to middle position.

Concentration curls – Seated single arm curls, the elbow of the curling arm is tucked in just above the knee.

Bicep Curls with Cable Bar & Curl Bar

How to perform bicep curls

  • Stand with your feet about one foot apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold the barbell or cable bar with your hands about shoulder width with your palms facing forward.
  • Keep your elbows in at your sides, try not to move your upper arms, let your elbow joint do all the work
  • Now bring the bar up to your chest and hold for a short moment while tensing your biceps, then lower the bar but don’t fully straighten your arms, hold and then repeat.

Bicep Curls – Concentration Curls


  • Sit on the edge of a bench, hold a dumbbell with your right arm between your legs.
  • Dig your right elbow into your inner right thigh, near the knee, and rest your left arm on your left leg.
  • Curl your right arm up to your chest and then lower, repeat for 10 reps then switch to your left arm.

Bicep Curls with Dumbbells

You should experiment with the different methods and techniques here to find what works best for you, plus it’s good to mix things up to avoid boredom mentally and physically, change helps to stimulate growth.

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