Home » Barbell Curl: A Full Exercise Guide

Barbell Curl: A Full Exercise Guide

Barbell Curl

Bigger and toned biceps are one of the common goals for most fitness enthusiasts. Aside from looking good, training your arms gives you an aesthetic physique that helps both in the gym and in daily activities. Your biceps are the key components in most of the pulling exercises. For example, doing heavy deadlift, barbell rows, pull-ups, etc. Working on your biceps not only helps in performing many upper body moves but also protects you from injuries. There are multiple exercises to train your biceps, one of them is the barbell curl.

If you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, consider adding barbell curls in your workout routine. This move is a variation of the standard bicep curl exercise. The barbell curl as the name suggests uses a weighted barbell as resistance to primarily train your biceps. The secondary muscles used for stabilizing this exercise are your forearms and core. This exercise is the most commonly performed yet effective in building strength and endurance in your biceps.

Performing the barbell curl with different hand placements targets different parts of your biceps and forearms. You can also replace the barbell with a resistance band for a variation or if you’ve no access to a pair of dumbbells.

Benefits Of Barbell Curl

Here are the benefits of adding barbell curls to your workout routine.

1. Trains Your Bicep Muscles

The barbell curl targets your bicep muscles, brachii, and brachialis muscle. Your biceps are responsible for the smooth movement of your elbows. Barbell curls allow you to lift heavier than other bicep moves like dumbbell curls. Doing this move also improves your range of motion.

Strengthening your biceps boosts your upper body performance as it’ll help in lifting heavy weights while doing other exercises like deadlift, bench press, and pull-ups. It also helps in doing even the simplest activity in your daily life like picking up heavy objects, driving a car, cleaning, etc.

2. Improves Your Grip Strength

While doing the barbell curls, your wrist and forearm muscles are activated to stabilize the movement which helps in improving your grip strength. A strong grip elevates your athletic performance and helps in performing other upper body exercises like bench press and deadlifts easily.

3. Versatile And Accessible

You can add the barbell curl to your home workout as you only need a barbell in your home gym. When compared to a cable machine, this is much more accessible and cheap. This exercise takes very small space to perform compared to a big cable machine which takes a lot of space. You can also use other types of equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, or a resistance band for a variation.

The barbell curl is a versatile move compared to other variations as you’re only required to adjust the weight plates according to your fitness level. Comparing it to a dumbbell curl which requires different sizes for different weights.

4. Helps In Weight Loss

Barbell curl helps in burning a lot of calories. It’s a fact that weight training burns more calories than cardio exercises. Doing barbell curls with heavy weights boosts your metabolism which results in weight loss. Besides losing weight it tones your upper body which gives you an aesthetic physique. Weight training prevents obesity and health issues like diabetes, kidney diseases, and heart problems.

Step By Step Instructions

Below is a step-by-step guide for performing the barbell curl correctly. Learning the correct form is important to reap all the benefits and reduces the risk of injuries.

1. Start this move by standing tall with your shoulder blades down and retracted. Keep your chest up, and back straight. Grab the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing away from you in an overhand grip. Keep your feet a few inches apart.

2. Squeeze the barbell to activate your biceps and forearms. Grabbing the bar tightly will help in keeping your wrist stable and strong. Brace your core and curl up the barbell till it’s a few inches from your front shoulders. Try to keep your elbows fixed while lifting the barbell. Breathe in as you lift the bar towards your shoulders.

3. Hold the position and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. Breathe out as you bring the barbell back to the start. This is one repetition of the barbell curl exercise.

4. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions with weights according to your strength level. Keep increasing the weight as you master this exercise.

Common Mistakes

1. The most common mistake made while doing barbell curls is keeping your elbows fixed and at your sides. Avoid moving your elbows forward while lifting the barbell to properly target your biceps and prevent injuries.

2. While bringing the barbell back to the start, it’s important to do so in a controlled motion. Dropping the weight too quickly can cause injuries to your joints and muscles.

3. When lifting too much weight many people swing their body back to assist the movement of the barbell. This is counted as cheating as your body should be fixed while lifting the weight. If the barbell is too heavy to lift then reduce the weights to complete the set.


After practicing the standard barbell curl, here are some of the variations that’ll target different parts of your bicep muscles.

1. EZ Bar Curl

Using an EZ bar instead of straight barbell results in greater bicep muscle activation. The technique to perform this variation is similar to that of the standard barbell curl exercise. The EZ bar curl also puts less stress on your wrists due to the wavy structure of the bar. This helps in isolating your biceps and improving muscle growth.

2. Wide Grip Barbell Curl

The wide grip barbell curl is performed on a straight barbell. During this variation, you place your hands wider than the width of your shoulders. Wider placement of your palms targets the short head of your bicep muscles. The procedure for this move is similar to the standard exercise. Perform this exercise for medium to high repetitions.

3. Barbell Preacher Curl

The barbell preacher curl is an advanced variation of the standard barbell curl exercise as your elbows are resting on a pad throughout the movement. This helps in keeping your elbows fixed and stable.

To perform this variation you need a preacher bench. This equipment can be easily found at a local gym. This exercise helps in strengthening and toning your biceps and forearms. Adding this variation to your workout routine will improve the size and strength of your biceps.

To do this exercise, start by getting on the preacher bench. Place your elbows on the pad while holding a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your backs straight and activate your core. Curl the barbell towards your shoulders. Breathe in while lifting the barbell. Pause the movement and slowly return to the start. Breathe out while lowering the bar. This is one repetition of the barbell preacher curl exercise. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

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