12 Best Ways To Do Bicep Curl (Dumbbell, Barbell & Cable)

The bicep curl is a fundamental exercise that can help you build a stronger and bigger bicep. But did you know that there are several ways to perform this classic exercise? Adding different bicep curl variations to your workout routine will allow you to effectively target your biceps from multiple angles, engage additional muscle groups, and break through plateaus.

You will challenge your biceps in new and dynamic ways with exercises such as the dumbbell hammer curl, barbell preacher curl, concentration curl, incline curl, and cable curl.

Each variation has its own unique advantages, from increased stability and muscle engagement to enhanced muscle contraction and isolation.

In this blog, we’ll explore the following topic:

  • Different ways to do bicep curls
  • How To Do
  • Tip for proper form and techniques
  • Specific benefits of each variation.
  • Sets and Rep
  • Sample bicep curl workout plan

Biceps Brachii Muscle (Anatomy)

The biceps brachii muscle (biceps) is a large, thick muscle of the upper arm. It is attached to the forearm bone called the radius and originates at the scapula in two heads (the bicep gets its name from the two heads).

Your biceps brachii has two heads: short (inner) and long (outer).

  • The short head is located along the inner side of the anterior upper arm and the long head is located along the outer side of the anterior upper arm.
  • The long head comprises the majority of the biceps’ peak, whereas the short head sits on the inner side and contributes to the biceps’ width.

The biceps is one of four muscles alongside the brachialis, brachioradialis, and coracobrachialis muscles that make up the upper arm.

bicep anatomy

12 Best Ways To Do Bicep Curl Variations

It’s crucial to understand the proper techniques for each variation in order to achieve well-sculpted arms and take your bicep workouts to the next level. Also, by changing up your workouts, you’ll keep them interesting, avoid getting bored, and keep your muscles working harder to keep getting stronger.

Let’s learn about different ways to do bicep curls and make our arms stronger and more defined.

  1. Standard Bicep Curl
  2. Hammer Curl
  3. Reverse Curl
  4. Zottman Curl
  5. One Arm High Cable Curl
  6. Spider Curl
  7. Incline Dumbbell Curl
  8. Preacher Curl
  9. Behind The Back Cable Curl
  10. Lying Cable Curl
  11. Drag Curl
  12. Standing Preacher Curl

1. Standard Bicep Curl

If you want to add a simple bicep exercise to your routine, standard bicep curls are a good starting point.

The standard bicep curl is a well-known exercise for building bicep muscle mass. It’s a great exercise for seeing results in strength and definition.

There are different ways to do a standard bicep curl in order to build a bigger and stronger biceps.

A barbell curl is a pull-type, isolation exercise that works primarily on your biceps and also trains the muscles in your forearms.

Note: In the study conducted, they found that the EZ barbell curl showed the highest overall electromyography (EMG) activity in the biceps brachii (BB) and brachioradialis (BR) muscles compared to the dumbbell curl (DC) and barbell curl (BC) variants.

Barbell Curl

How To Do Barbell Curl

  1. Stand straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a barbell with an underhand grip (palms facing up) and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Allow the barbell to hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs.
  3. Keep your upper arms close to your sides and your elbows stationary.
  4. Start the exercise by bending your elbows and pulling the barbell towards your chest.
  5. Continue curling until the barbell is at shoulder level.
  6. Hold this position for a brief pause and squeeze your biceps to maximize the contraction.
  7. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat the movement for the desired number of times.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.
  • Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
  • The motion should occur at the elbow to isolate the biceps, not on the shoulders.
Know More: Barbell Bicep Exercises & Workout For Mass & Strength

2. Hammer Curl

When it comes to building massive biceps and forearms, dumbbell hammer curl is an effective isolation workout that targets the bicep, brachialis and brachioradialis.

It is performed by holding dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing inward) instead of the traditional supinated grip (palms facing upward).

The hammer curl is one of the most popular exercises among bodybuilders and regular weightlifters.

Hammer Curl

How To Do Hammer Curl

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing towards your body.
  3. Slowly curl up the dumbbell up to your shoulders while keeping your elbows close to your body.
  4. Pause for a second at the top of the lift, squeeze your biceps, then lower the weights under control.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Avoid any swinging or excessive body movement.
  • Keep in control of using your strength, not using momentum or gravity.
  • Neither lean back as you lift the weight nor lean forward as you lower it.

3. Reverse Curl

The reverse curl is a variation of the bicep curl exercise that targets the muscles from a different angle. Unlike the traditional bicep curl, the barbell reverse curl is performed with an overhand grip (palms facing down) on the barbell.

A pronounced grip will engage the brachioradialis and other forearm muscles to a greater extent. This also helps to improve grip strength and forearm and bicep development.

Other ways to do the Reverse Curl:

  • Cable Reverse Curl
  • Dumbbell Reverse Curl
Barbell Reverse Curl

How To Do Barbell Reverse Curl

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Your palms should be facing down, and your hands should be positioned just outside of your thighs.
  4. Exhale and slowly curl the barbell upwards toward your shoulders.
  5. At the top of the curl, feel the contraction in your biceps and forearms.
  6. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
  7. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Ensure that your elbows remain stationary and close to your sides.
  • Focus on strict and controlled movements

4. Zottman Curl

The Zottman Curl is a creative and effective variation of the standard bicep curl. It targets your biceps and forearms at the same time.

The exercise primarily targets the biceps during the concentric (lifting) phase when your palms are facing upward. However, during the eccentric (lowering) phase, you rotate your wrists so that your palms face downward, engaging the forearms and providing an effective forearm workout.

The Zottman curl can be done with both arms at once, or with alternate arms.

Zottman Curl

How To Do Zottman Curl

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip (palms facing upward).
  3. Lift the weights up towards your shoulders while keeping your upper arms still.
  4. When the weights are close to your shoulders, turn your wrists so that your palms face down.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  6. At the bottom of the movement, rotate your wrists again to return to the starting position with palms facing upward (supination movement).

Tips For Proper Form

  • For the best results, perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner.
  • Don’t go heavy, pick a lighter weight and work on perfecting your form.
Know More: Best Brachioradialis Exercises For Bigger Forearms

5. One Arm High Cable Curl

The high cable curl exercise is a good way to work on your biceps and make them bigger and thicker. There are two main versions of the high cable curl: 

  • One-arm high cable curl
  • Two-arm high cable curl 

Both variations are effective, but the one-arm version allows you to use more relative weight for potentially greater gains in biceps size and strength.

One Arm High Cable Curl

How To Do

  1. Stand sideways next to a high pulley machine, with your arm extended out to about shoulder height.
  2. Grip the handle with one of your hands.
  3. Slowly curl the cable towards your head, isolating the bicep until you feel tension, and hold for a count.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
  5. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Hold for a count of two and squeeze your biceps brachii.
  • Inhale as you extend your elbow, exhale while squeeze.

6. Spider Curl

Spider curls are a remarkable exercise for building the biceps because they produce an intense muscle contraction on every single rep. That why it is one of the best bicep exercises you can consider incorporating into your training regime if you want a bulging short head bicep.

This is a good exercise to change things up and keep your biceps working hard, especially the short head, which will have to do most of the work.

It is possible to do spider curls in many different ways.

  • Barbell Spider Curls
  • EZ Bar Spider Curls
  • One-Arm Spider Curl
  • Flat Bench Spider Curl
Spider Curl

How To Do Spider Curl

  1. Adjust the bench to an incline, level to a 60-degree angle.
  2. Grab two moderately light dumbbells with an underhand grip.
  3. Sit on the bench in a reverse position with your chest pressed into the backrest.
  4. Let your arms hang in front of your torso.
  5. Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders and squeeze your biceps.
  6. Hold the contraction for a moment.
  7. Then lower the weights under control until your elbows are fully extended.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner for best results.
  • Only the forearms should move. Do not swing the arms.

7. Incline Dumbbell Curl

The incline dumbbell curl is a variation of the bicep curl exercise, which is performed on an inclined bench. One of the primary benefits of the incline dumbbell curl is the increased stretch and range of motion it provides to the long head of your bicep.

When you perform the curl on an incline bench, the arms start in a more extended position, which allows for a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement.

There are different ways to incline a dumbbell curl.

  • Incline Hammer Curl
  • Incline Alternating Curl
  • Incline Zottman Curl
  • Incline Reverse Curl
Incline Dumbbell Curl

How To Do Incline Dumbbell Curl

  1. Set an adjustable bench to a 45-degree incline and sit on it with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length with your palms facing forward.
  3. Slowly curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders.
  4. At the top of the movement, your biceps should be fully contracted.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Keep your upper arms and elbows stationary.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and your upper arms stationary
  • Go full range to build your biceps.

8. Preacher Curl

The preacher curl isolates the biceps muscles by eliminating momentum and limiting the involvement of other muscles. This allows for a more targeted and intense bicep workout.

With a preacher curl, you get a lot of benefits that don’t come with regular bicep curls. Do preacher curl with a little wider grip to impart more load on short head biceps.

There are many ways to do preacher curls, and each one has its own benefits.

  • Dumbbell Preacher Curls
  • Reverse Grip Preacher Curls
  • Preacher Curl Machine
  • Cable Preacher Curls:
Preacher curl

How To Do Preacher Curl

  1. Get seated on the Preacher Bench with your chest against the support.
  2. Grab the bar placed on the preacher bench rack in front of you.
  3. Curl the bar as in standard barbell curl and get maximum contraction at the top.
  4. Lowering the bar slowly gives constant stress throughout the movement.
  5. Lowers the bar to get the maximum extension.
  6. Repeats the desired number of reps.
  7. During the last few reps, your biceps short heads should feel burning intense.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Keep the motion slow and controlled throughout the set.
  • Squeeze the biceps as hard as possible as you get the weight to the top.
  • Use a wide grip to work the short head biceps and a close grip to work the outer biceps.

9. Behind The Back Cable Curl

Unlike traditional bicep curls, this variation involves curling the cable attachment from a position behind your body, resulting in a different angle of resistance and muscle activation.

The behind-the-back cable curl is similar to the incline dumbbell curl. Your arms will be curling with your elbows behind you, which emphasizes the long head. 

It provides constant tension to the biceps throughout the entire range of motion.

Behind The Back Cable Curl (Bayesian Curl)

How To Do Behind The Back Cable Curl

  1. Attach a single cable handle to the bottom of a cable pulley.
  2. Grab the handle with an underhand grip and then face away from the machine.
  3. Take a step out from the cable station and let your arm travel behind your torso until you feel a good biceps stretch.
  4. Exhale and curl the bar upward towards your shoulders, contracting your biceps.
  5. Lower the weight back down under control until your elbow is fully extended.
  6. Repeat for the ideal number of reps to complete the set.
  7. Now, switch arms to complete the exercise on your right side, and then alternate between arms for sets.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Through the whole range of motion, the arm is positioned behind the body.
  • Focus on maintaining a stable and upright posture.
  • Avoid excessive swinging or using momentum to lift the weight
Know More: Bicep Cable Workout To Build Mass And Strength

10. Lying Cable Curl

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your biceps curl variations, why not try lying (supine) cable curls?

The point of lying on your back for the lying cable curl is to eliminate all body momentum and therefore prevent cheating and better isolate your elbow flexors.

It is performed lying on the back, either on a bench or the ground, with the feet facing toward a cable stack. This movement is usually performed for moderate to high reps for a burn and pump as part of an arm-focused workout.

Lying Cable Curl

How To Do Lying Cable Curl

  1. With both hands, grasp a straight bar or bar attachment that is attached to the pulley, using an underhand (palms facing up) grip.
  2. Lie down on the bench in front of the weight stack with your feet flat against the frame of the pulley machine
  3. While keeping your upper arms stationary and the elbows close to your body, curl the bar up to your chest.
  4. Slowly return to the start position.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Do not allow your body to come off of the floor or bench.
  • Keep the rep timing slow and control the weight as you lower it.
  • Keep your elbows stationary and tucked at your sides.

11. Drag Curl

While less popular than the standard dumbbell bicep curl, the dumbbell drag curl is an extremely effective bicep exercise.

When curling, the dragging motion of the dumbbells allows for a greater range of motion, leading to a more intense contraction of the biceps.

It is a unique bicep curl variation in which you don’t completely bring the weight in front of your body. This makes it more difficult to swing and use momentum to lift the weight up.

There are other ways to do drag curls to build a bigger bicep.

Dumbbell Drag Curl

How To Do Dumbbell Drag Curl

  1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent for stability.
  2. Grab the dumbbell with a double underhand (supinated) grip.
  3. Bring your elbows and shoulders back slightly as you curl the dumbbells upwards.
  4. It should feel like you are “dragging” the dumbbell up to your body.
  5. Squeeze your biceps hard at the top and slowly return to the starting position.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Start with lighter weights to get used to the movement and form.
  • Keeps the biceps tight and prevents overuse of the shoulders or upper back.

12. Standing Preacher Curl

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective way to do bicep cur exercise, try standing preacher curl. This exercise targets the biceps with an emphasis on isolation, stability, and control.

The preacher bench prevents excessive swinging or cheating, ensuring proper bicep isolation and minimizing involvement of other muscles. This leads to a more intense contraction in the biceps, allowing for focused muscle development.

Standing Barbell Preacher Curl

How To Do Standing Preacher Curl

  1. Standing with a staggered stance close to the preacher curl bench.
  2. Place the back of your upper arms on the preacher bench pad, and then grab the EZ Bar.
  3. Curl the EZ bar until it reaches your shoulder level and gets maximum contraction at the top.
  4. Hold the position for 1-3 seconds and then lower the bar so that your arms are again fully extended.
  5. Repeats the desired number of sets.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Maintain a neutral spine and a stable, upright position.
  • Keep the motion slow and controlled throughout the set.
  • Squeeze the biceps as hard as possible as you get the weight to the top.

Reps, Sets, And Frequency For Bicep Curl Workout

The bicep curl exercises listed will be performed with moderate loads and repetitions to emphasize both muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth) and muscular endurance. Load and volume (sets, reps) can be increased as your fitness and strength improve

  • For muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth): Aim for a rep range of 8-12 reps per set
  • For strength and power: Lower the rep range to around 4-6 reps per set.
  • For Endurance: Do 15-20 reps per set.

However, here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

For Beginners

  • Reps: Start with 8-10 repetitions per set.
  • Sets: Perform 2-3 sets of the exercise.
  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Frequency: 1-2 times per week.

For Intermediate

  • Reps: Aim 10-12 repetitions per set.
  • Sets: Aim for 3-4 sets of the exercise.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week.


  • Reps: Increase the challenge by performing 8-12 repetitions per set.
  • Sets: Perform 4-5 sets of the exercise.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week.

Sample Bicep Workout Routine

Beginner Bicep Curl Workout Routine:

ExerciseSetsRepsRest between Sets
Barbell Bicep Curls3-48-1060-90 sec
Dumbbell Hammer Curls310-1260-90 sec
Cable Reverse Curls38-1060-90 sec

Intermediate Bicep Curl Workout Routine:

ExerciseSetsRepsRest between Sets
Barbell Bicep Curls48-1060 sec
Preacher Curls48-1060-90 sec
Cable Hammer Curls3-410-1260 sec
Concentration Curls3-48-1260 sec

Advanced Bicep Workout Routine:

ExerciseSetsRepsRest between Sets
EZ Barbell Bicep Curls46-860 sec
Incline Dumbbell Curls46-860 sec
Cable Hammer Curls3-46-860-45 sec
Dumbbell Spider Curls46-860 sec


What is the easiest bicep curl variation?

The standing dumbbell curl and hammer are the easiest bicep curl variations.

What is the hardiest bicep curl variation?

Incline curl and Spider bicep curl are the hardest types of bicep curls to do.

How many variations of biceps are there?

There are numerous variations of bicep exercises that target and engage the biceps muscles in different ways. Some common variations include

  • Standard bicep curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Concentration curls
  • Preacher curls
  • Cable curls
  • Incline curls
  • Reverse curls
  • Zottman curl
  • Spider curls.


Mastering the bicep curl and its variations is essential for sculpting strong and defined arms. You can achieve a more well-rounded and sculpted arm appearance by adding hammer curls, concentration curls, preacher curls, incline curls, and reverse curls to your arm workout routine.

Always focus on proper form and technique when doing bicep curls. Also, try different weights and reps, take breaks to recover, and avoid common mistakes to get the most out of your bicep curl workouts.

Get ready to build a strong and defined bicep like never before.

Bicep Curl Variation To Build Bigger and Stronger Arm

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