Close Grip Barbell Curl: Muscles Worked, Benefits & Alternative

Are you tired of the same old bicep curls or want to add more variation to your bicep workout routine? Look no further than the close grip barbell curl for a workout.

This is simple yet effective exercise targets your biceps, resulting in bigger and stronger guns.

By using a narrow grip on the barbell, you’ll feel the burn in your biceps like never before.

This exercise targets the long head of the bicep, which will give you bigger and more stable biceps.

What is Close Grip Barbell Curl

The close grip barbell curl is a variation of the traditional barbell curl, where the hands are positioned closer together than shoulder width.

The close grip barbell curl is known for isolating the bicep brachii muscle, specifically the outer (long) head of the bicep muscle. It is considered to be an effective exercise for building bicep peak and overall arm size.

The exercise is done by holding a barbell with a close grip and curling the weight towards your chest while keeping your elbows close to your body.

It can be performed with various weights and rep ranges.

Close Grip Barbell Curl

How to Build Bigger Biceps with Close-Grip Barbell Curls

To build bigger biceps with close-grip barbell curls, you should perform the exercise properly and gradually increase the weight and intensity over time.

You should vary the sets, reps, and weight to challenge your muscles and avoid plateauing.

Before starting the workout, please keep in mind the following points.

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

When using a regular shoulder-width grip with the barbell curl, you will place approximately equal emphasis on both bicep heads.

short and long head bicep

Muscle Worked During Close Grip Barbell Curl

The close-grip barbell curl primarily worked the biceps brachii muscles.

The narrow grip barbell curl has the involvement of several synergist muscles, these muscles include,

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your

Benefits of Narrow Grip Bicep Curl

Besides the obvious advantage of peaked biceps, narrow-grip barbell curls are a great way to increase general upper-body strength.

This makes it a brilliant exercise choice to train for other weightlifting exercises.

Some benefits of the narrow grip bicep barbell curl are listed.

  1. Builds biceps peak.
  2. The close grip bicep curl also helps in daily activities. It helps in picking heavy objects.
  3. Places the primary stress on the long (outer) head of the biceps.
  4. Can improve grip strength
  5. It provides a variation to traditional bicep exercises
  6. According to a study, the long head of the bicep helps in stabilizing the shoulder.

How To Do Narrow Grip Barbell Curl

  1. Your feet should be shoulder-width. Keep your torso straight and your head up, and your elbows should be held close to your torso.
  2. Hold the barbell with a close grip (it can be hip width or closer). Your palms should be up and a few inches apart.
  3. Allow your arms to hang fully extended down in front of your body, with the barbell held at arm’s length.
  4. Curl the bar up to shoulder level by bending your elbows. Hold the contraction for a moment.
  5. Slowly lower the barbell back down to the arms extended position.
  6. Do 3–4 sets of 8–12 repetitions with the right technique.
Close Grip Barbell Curl

Close Grip Barbell Curls Tips

  • Keep elbows close to your body to engage the biceps more effectively
  • Do not load the barbell. Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase over time.
  • Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.
  • The motion should occur at the elbow to isolate the biceps, not on the shoulders.
  • Start with fewer reps and increase the number of reps as you go.
  • Do not go too fast. This is a common mistake that could lead to muscle strain or worse.
  • Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
  • Get into warm-ups that include bicep exercises. This is a great way to get your muscles ready and avoid injuries.
  • Keep your elbows locked to your sides and your body still. Only your forearms should move.
  • Rest and recover properly between sets and workouts to prevent overuse injuries.

Best Variation of Close Grip Bicep Barbell Curl

If you are willing to be a more adventurous lifter, there are several variations of the close grip barbell curl you might like.

One of the most common variations is the close grip EZ bar curl.

The EZ bar, although very different from the straight bar, is an excellent trade for the barbell, as its ergonomic design helps to challenge and activate the biceps..

They are easier to raise and put muscles through a similar range of motion but do not engage the forearms as much.

1. Close Grip EZ Bar

The straight bar version of this exercise is exceptional, too. However, it can cause wrist and forearm discomfort for many lifters due to the need for a fully supinated grip.

Close Grip Ez Bar

How To Do Close Grip EZ Bar

  1. Stand holding an EZ-curl bar using a close, supinated grip (hands closer than shoulder width apart and palms facing upward).
  2. Exhale as you curl the EZ-curl bar up toward your shoulders.
  3. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your biceps.
  4. Inhale as you lower the EZ-curl bar to the starting position.


  • Keep your elbows locked to your sides and your body still. Only your forearms should move.
  • 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.

2. Ez Barbell Close Grip Preacher Curl

The close grip preacher curl is another good exercise for your barbell bicep workout. It is the best exercise to build a long head of biceps.

Ez Barbell Close Grip Preacher Curl

How To Do Narrow Grip Preacher Curl

  1. Set up a preacher curl bench and adjust the seat height so that your arms are comfortably positioned on the preacher pad.
  2. Grasp the EZ bar with an underhand grip, with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Rest your upper arms on the preacher pad.
  4. Slowly curl the bar towards your shoulders.
  5. Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
  6. Lower the bar back down to the starting position.


  • Keep the movement slow and controlled to engage your biceps muscles fully.
  • Exhale when you curl the weight up, and inhale when you lower it down.
  • Start with a lighter weight to ensure proper form and technique.

3. Barbell Close Grip Concentration Curl

The close grip barbell concentration curl exercise is harder than the normal dumbbell concentration curl and may not be good for beginners.

It is a great arm movement for stimulating the muscles of the brachialis muscle and biceps.

Barbell Close Grip Concentration Curl

How To Do Narrow Grip Concentration Curl

  1. Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  2. Grasp a barbell with a close grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and your palms facing up.
  3. Rest your elbows on the inside of your thighs, close to your knees.
  4. Keep your back straight and your chest up.
  5. Slowly curl the barbell up towards your chest.
  6. Squeeze your biceps at the movement’s top and hold for a second.
  7. Lower the barbell back down to the starting position with a controlled movement.


  • Lightweights should be preferred over heavyweights.
  • Keep your elbows stationary and close to your body throughout the exercise.
  • When lifting the weight, it is important to avoid swinging.

Best Alternate of Close grip Bicep Curl

Many exercises can be used as an alternative to close grip bicep curls to target the same muscle groups. Here are some of the best options:

1. Incline Dumbbell Curls

It is one of the best alternatives to close grip curl. Your long head bicep will be targeted very well with incline bench curls.

It is an excellent full-range exercise to build massive peaked biceps and also add variety to your Arm training.

2. Hammer Curls

Hammer curl targets the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles, just like the close grip bicep curl. However, the grip is neutral, and the movement is done with dumbbells.

3. Close Grip Pull Up

The Close grip pull up is a bodyweight exercise that can induce serious muscle growth of the biceps and back.  Use a narrow grip barbell curl to target your long-head biceps even more. 

While this isn’t a bicep-specific exercise like the previous ones, some of the best exercises for your biceps are compound movements like this.

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