Dumbbell Bicep Curl: Muscle Worked, How To Do and Tips

If you want to build a bigger and stronger bicep, you should add dumbbell bicep curls to your arm workout routine.

Why are dumbbell curls so vital? Dumbbell curls are a classic biceps curl exercise that has been used for decades by bodybuilders and strength athletes. They are a highly effective way to target the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles.

They not only build the aesthetic appeal of your arms, but also contribute to functional upper body strength.

In this beginner guide, we will explore the following:

What Is Dumbbell Curls

The Dumbbell bicep curl is a highly recognizable biceps exercise that helps to build bigger and stronger biceps. It’s a good way to make your arm stronger and more defined.

The dumbbell curl is known for its ability to isolate and strengthen the biceps, promoting muscle growth, definition, and increased arm strength.

This is a pull-type, isolation exercise that works primarily on your biceps and also trains the muscles in your forearms. It’s usually added to upper body workouts to make the arms look good and be strong.

There are many variations of dumbbell curl that you can add to your workout routine, and all have their own unique benefits.

  • Standing dumbbell Curl: Target overall bicep development. Allow heavier weights for strength gains.
  • Dumbbell Seated Curl: Reduce cheating and promote strict form. It is suitable for beginners who have balance issues.
  • Alternating Dumbbell Curl: Correct muscle imbalances between arms. Enhance mind-muscle connection.
  • Single Arm Curl: Focus on one bicep at a time for increased intensity. Improve grip strength and stability.
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Dumbbell Curl Muscle Worked

The dumbbell curl, primarily works the biceps brachii. A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your brachialis, brachioradialis and forearm muscles.

The bicep curl has the involvement of several synergist muscles, these muscles include, oblique and core muscles.

Dumbbell Curl Muscle Worked

Bicep Brachii

The Biceps is a large, thick muscle of the upper arm. It has two heads: short (inner) and long (outer).

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


The brachialis is a muscle located underneath the biceps brachii. It is primarily responsible for elbow flexion.


The brachioradialis is a forearm muscle that runs along the outer side of the forearm. It assists in elbow flexion and plays a secondary role during the dumbbell curl.

How To Do Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curl

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  3. Maintain a neutral spine with your shoulders relaxed.
  4. Exhale and slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders
  5. Continue to raise the dumbbells until your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.
  6. To take a brief pause, squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
  7. Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  8. Avoid letting the weights drop or swinging your arms during the descent.
  9. Keep tension on the biceps throughout the entire range of motion.
  10. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each set.
Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curl
Know More: 15 Best Biceps Exercises With Dumbbells For Mass & Strength

Dumbbell Bicep Curl Proper Form And Technique

  • Don’t lift the weight with too much momentum or swing your body.
  • Don’t underestimate the pause at the top of your curl, and take a moment to squeeze your bicep when you get there.
  • slow controlled descent will increase time under tension, leading to more effective sets, and less risk of injury.
  • Ensure that your elbows are kept close to your sides with your knees slightly bent.
  • Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body.
  • Don’t let your shoulders shrug up towards your ears.
  • Incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program.
  • Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.
  • Perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner for best results.
  • Don’t go heavy. Choose a lighter weight and focus on perfecting your form.

Set, Reps And Frequency For Dumbbell Curl

The number of reps you should do depends on your goals, whether they are to increase strength or build muscle mass and endurance.

  • For muscle growth, it is best to do for around 6–12 reps per set.
  • For strength, around 3–8 reps per set are recommended.
  • Muscle Endurance, do 15-20+ reps per set.


If you’re new to dumbbell bicep curls or strength training in general, start with lighter weights and focus on mastering proper form and technique.

2-38-121-2 times per week


Once you’re comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight and intensity.

3-48-122-3 times per week


As an advanced fitness enthusiast, you can add more sets, higher weights, and advanced variations to your dumbbell curl workouts.

4-58-152-3 times per week

Tips For Increasing Weight And Reps

Once you’ve mastered proper form with a lighter weight, you can start to increase the weight and reps. However, it’s important to do so safely and gradually.

  • Start by increasing the weight by 5-10% and reducing your reps to 6-8.
  • However, it’s important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
  • It’s also important to give your muscles time to recover between workouts.

Variations Of Dumbbell Bicep Curls

There are several variations of dumbbell curls that can target different areas of your biceps and forearms.

1. Alternating Dumbbell Curl

The alternating dumbbell curl is a great variation of the traditional curl. In this exercise, you curl one arm at a time and alternate between the left and right arms.

Focusing on one arm at a time enhances the mind-muscle connection. It helps you focus on the biceps contraction.

They are also a good option for people who are new to weight training, as they are relatively easy to learn.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

How To Do

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms up.
  3. Curl one dumbbell towards your shoulder, rotating your palm as you lift.
  4. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbell back down in a controlled manner, while simultaneously beginning the curl with the opposite arm.
  6. Continue alternating curls for the desired number of repetitions on each arm.

2. Seated Dumbbell Curl

The seated dumbbell curl is a variation of the classic dumbbell curl, but with an added twist: you’ll perform it while seated on a bench.

The seated position reduces cheating and swinging and allows you to contract the bicep more effectively.

Using a chair or bench provides additional support for your lower back, reducing the strain on this area and allowing you to focus on targeting the biceps.

Seated Dumbbell Curl

How To Do

  1. Take a seat on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  3. Bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
  4. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Add Dumbbell Curl Into Your Workout Routine

The dumbbell curls can be incorporated into your workout routine in a variety of ways. Here are some options:

  1. As a standalone exercise: Do on 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. As part of a bicep workout: Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps along with other bicep exercises like them barbell bicep curl and hammer curl.
  3. As part of a full-body workout: Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps along with other compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

1. Bicep-Focused Workout Routine

Dumbbell Curl3-48-12
Hammer Curl310-12
Preacher Curl38-10
Concentration Curl48-12
Cable Curl38-12

2. Pull Workout Routine

Lats Pulldowns310-12
Dumbbell Curl38-12
Dumbbell Shrugs38-12

3. Full Body Workout Routine

Bench Press46-8
Dumbbell Curl38-10
Overhead Press48-10
Plank330 sec

Benefits Of Doing Dumbbell Bicep Curl

  • Dumbbell curl forced to incorporate balance and coordination, which machines don’t demand of you.
  • Bicep curls are a great choice for anyone looking to strengthen biceps, and brachialis muscles.
  • It strengthens your neuromuscular connection, which is considered to be responsible for major strength gains.
  • By activating your forearm muscles, the dumbbell curls improve your grip strength.
  • It offers versatility as it allows you to modify like standing and single arm dumbbell curl.
  • Improve overall arm strength and muscular endurance.
  • Engage stabilizer muscles for better balance and coordination.
  • Versatile exercise with various curling variations for progressive training.
  • It can be performed with only with dumbbells at home or gym.
Know More Daily calories Requirement To Build Arms

Best Alternates Of Standard Dumbbell Curl

1. 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

2. Dumbbell Reverse Curl

Dumbbell reverse curl is a variation of the dumbbell bicep curl where the motion is the same, but the change in grip allows for specific arm muscles to be targeted.

It is performed by contracting the biceps with your palms facing down using dumbbells.

The reverse bicep curl is great for building both your bicep and brachialis (upper arms), and also stimulates your brachioradialis (lower arm) muscle.

Dumbbell Reverse Curl

3. 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

4. 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.

Incline Dumbbell Curl

5. One Arm Dumbbell 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.

The one-arm dumbbell preacher curl is a variation of the preacher curl exercises, uses dumbbells and single arm movements for better control and targeting of the bicep muscles.

One Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl

6. Dumbbell Drag Curl

The dumbbell drag curl, is a variation of bicep curl that focuses on maximizing the progressive overload and mechanical tension placed on the biceps.

It’s also maximized the muscular hypertrophy and neurological adaptation that occurs as a direct result of the training.

As you curl up, your elbows pull back behind you, which stretches the long head, activating it to a very high degree.


Do Dumbbell Curls Work Forearms

Yes, dumbbell curls do work the forearms to a certain extent. While the primary focus of dumbbell curls is on the biceps brachii, the forearms also play a supporting role in stabilizing the weight and assisting with grip strength.

What do dumbbell curls work?

Dumbbell curls primarily work the biceps muscles. They engage the forearms and recruit some other stabilizer muscles for balance and control.

Is it OK to do dumbbell curls everyday?

No, it is not recommended to do dumbbell curls every day. After a workout, your bicep muscles need time to recover and repair themselves. You should allow at least 48 hours of rest between biceps workouts to avoid overtraining and promote muscle growth.


Mastering the dumbbell 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 preacher curls, spider 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 dumbbell curl workouts.

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


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  • Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl
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Best Bicep Exercises With Dumbbell To Build Bigger Arm

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