Reverse Bicep Curl: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Variations

Training the biceps is considered the most significant arm muscle, but if really you want to improve the shape and size of your arms, you might start working on your brachialis.

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

Since the brachialis is underneath the biceps, growing them will push the biceps up and out further, making your arms look bigger arms.

As the brachialis grows, this will widen out the arms, making your arms look bigger from all angles.

This article will cover the following.

  • What is the reverse bicep curl?
  • What muscles do reverse curls work?
  • Benefits of the reverse bicep curl
  • How to perform it and mistakes to avoid
  • Best variations and alternatives of reverse curl.

What Is Reverse Bicep Curl?

Reverse bicep curls can be your secret weapon in your quest to build bigger arms.

The reverse curl is a variation of the standard biceps curl except, instead of gripping the weight with the palms up (underhand grip), your palms are facing down (overhead grip).

You can execute the reverse grip bicep curl in many variations, you can do it with a straight barbell, EZ Bar, dumbbells, or a cable machine.

If you’re looking for a straightforward reverse curl variation, then the barbell reverse curl is a great staple exercise you can add in the workout regime.

The barbell reverse curl is a non-negotiable component of arm training. Sure, a standard barbell curl will still work the same muscles, but a reverse curl variation hits certain muscles a little better.

Reverse Curl Muscle Worked

The reverse curl primarily muscle worked the Brachialis, Brachioradialis and Biceps Brachii.

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your, Wrist Extensors and Rectus abdominis.

The deltoids and trapezius muscles are also active, but only for stabilization purposes.

Muscle Worked During Reverse Bicep Curl

How To Do Barbell Reverse Curl

The following steps should be used to perform this exercise with proper form.

1. Starting Position

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing down) at shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower.
  • Allow your arms to hang fully extended in front of you with the barbell resting against your thighs.

2. Movement

  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides.
  • Curl the barbell upwards without letting your elbows drift forward.
  • As you curl the weight, keep your wrists straight. Do not allow them to bend or flex.
  • Keep curling until your forearms are in a vertical position or just short of touching your biceps.
Barbell Reverse Curl

3. Ending Position

  • Pause for a brief moment at the top.
  • Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Set And Reps

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.

Here are three different ways to program the reverse curl exercise depending on your fitness goals:

  • Beginners: Lightweight, 3 Sets, 12- 15 repetitions, 60- 90 seconds rest in between sets.  
  • Intermediate: Light to Medium Weight, 4 sets, 8-12 repetitions, 45- 60 seconds rest in between sets.
  • Advance: Medium to Heavy Weight, 4 sets, 8- 12 repetitions, 30-45 seconds rest in between sets.

Reverse Curl Proper Form and Technique

Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs.

  • 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 and brachialis muscles.
  • A 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, and your hands gripped tightly to the bar.
  • Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement.
  • 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.
Barbell Reverse Curl

Benefits Of Reverse Bicep Curls

When performed with proper form, the reverse bicep curl offers numerous benefits.

  • Builds multiple arm muscles: Reverse curls will change how your arms look, giving you upper and lower arms you can be proud of. It activates muscle groups in your arms, including your biceps brachii, brachialis and Brachioradialis.
  • New Stimulation: It provides new stimulation, from progressive overload or entirely new mechanical stress, which will lead to gains.
  • Improve Grip Strength: It improves your grip strength. A strong grip is a big part of successful strength training.
  • Prevent Injury: The reverse biceps curl helps address forearm imbalances and elbow pain by building the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. It is sometimes used during the rehabilitation of biceps injuries.
  • Thicker Forearm: It is highly beneficial because it engages your forearms better, which grows and strengthens them.

Reverse Bicep Curl Variations

The reverse bicep curl can be performed in a variety of ways to accommodate your fitness level and lifting preference.

If you are new to performing reverse curl, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way to counter this problem is to use a lighter weightAnother option is to do a reverse curl with a dumbbell and cable.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the bicep, then try reverse grip preacher Curl and heavier weight.

1. Dumbbell Reverse Curl

Dumbbell Reverse bicep curl is the best variation of the reverse curl, where the dumbbell is gripped palms down. Adding this exercise to your current routine can help build stronger, more toned arms.

The motion is the same as a standard dumbbell curl, but the change in grip allows for specific arm muscles (brachialis) to be targeted.

The reverse grip is also useful for getting the forearms involved in some of the work.

Dumbbell Reverse Curl

How To Do Dumbbell Reverse Curl

  1. Stand straight, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand using an overhand grip, and arms should be fully extended.
  3. Keep your arms still and straight, lift the weights up towards your shoulders. Take a deep breath as you do this. Use only your forearms for this movement.
  4. Continue curling the dumbbells until they are at shoulder level and your biceps are fully contracted.
  5. Return to the starting position in a smooth arc, inhale as you do so.

2. Cable Reverse Curl

Reverse cable curl is a cable machine variations of reverse bicep curl that targets the biceps and brachialis. The only reverse cable curl equipment that you really need is the cable machine.

There are, however, many reverse cable curl variations that you can try out that may require different types of reverse cable curl equipment and set up.

Such as wide grip cable reverse curl, single arm reverse cable curl.

Cable Reverse Curl

How To Do Cable Reverse Curl

  1. Stand up with your torso upright while holding a bar attachment that is attached to a low pulley using a pronated (palms down) and shoulder width grip
  2. Keep your elbows in and bring the bar up to your chest.
  3. Contract the muscle and hold for a moment.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back down to the arms’ extended position.
  5. Repeat for desired reps.

3. EZ Bar Reverse Curl

As the name suggests, the exercise involves curling a barbell, typically an EZ bar, in a reverse grip. It can be a secret weapon in your quest to build bigger forearms and upper arm.

The EZ bar tends to be much more comfortable for trainees and allows them to use heavier loads. There is less stress on the wrists because of their grips being slightly more neutral.

In a study, the EZ version had the most EMG activity for both the Bicep brachii and brachialis muscles.

EZ Bar Reverse Curl

How To Do EZ Bar Reverse Curl

  1. Load an appropriate amount of weight onto an EZ bar.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  3. Then grab the bar with a shoulder-width overhand (ideally thumbless) grip.
  4. Keeping your elbows in, bring the EZ bar up to your chest by flexing the elbow.
  5. Hold the contraction for a moment and lower the bar back down to the arms’ extended position.
  6. Repeat for desired reps.

4. EZ Bar Reverse Grip Preacher Curl

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your reverse biceps curls, why not try the EZ bar reverse preacher curl? It is great for building both the forearm and the upper arm.

During this exercise, the long head of the biceps brachii is activated more than the short head. The long head is stretched out more in this position, which means it can contribute more to the curl.

EZ Bar Reverse Grip Preacher Curl

How To Do EZ Bar Reverse Grip Preacher Curl

  1. Setup for the EZ bar reverse grip preacher curl by adjusting the seat height of the preacher bench so that the back of your upper arms rest flat on the pads.
  2. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing down). 
  3. Keeping your arms fixed, and only bending at the elbows, curl the weight until your forearms are at 90 degrees to the floor.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for desired reps.

5. Dumbbell Reverse Grip Concentration Curl

The Reverse Grip Dumbbell Concentration Curl is a great basic move. This is one of the best reverse bicep curl exercises variation that you can do during your arm workout.

The dumbbell reverse-grip concentration curl is an isolation exercise that targets the biceps brachii and brachioradialis muscles.

Reverse Grip Dumbbell concentration curl

How To Do Dumbbell Reverse Grip Concentration Curl

  1. Sit on a bench with your legs apart, grab a dumbbell in one hand (say left hand).
  2. With your left arm almost fully extended, rest your elbow against the inside of your left thigh.
  3. Pronate your wrist so that your palm faces backward.
  4. Exhale as you curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulder.
  5. Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
  6. Repeat with your right arm.

6. Dumbbell Reverse Bicep Preacher Curl

The dumbbell reverse preacher curl is a variation of the standard preacher curl targeting your brachialis muscle, which lies deeper than your biceps brachii in the upper arm.

The reverse bicep preacher curl may be performed by a barbell, dumbbells, or EZ-curl bar. However, dumbbell reverse grip preacher curl provides stability and the full range of motion.

Dumbbell Reverse Preacher Curl

How To Do Dumbbell Reverse Bicep Preacher Curl

  1. Adjust the preacher bench seat so that your arms are level with the top of the bench.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a pronated (palms down) grip and rest your arm against the bench with your arm extended fully down.
  3. Slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your head. Make sure you keep your arms on the bench at all times until you reach the top position.
  4. Hold for a count, squeeze and isolate your biceps.

Reverse Curl Alternatives

If you want to keep your training varied, fun, and challenging, you might also want to include the following exercises.


Do you have more questions? To find the answers, scroll down.

Are Reverse Curls Good for Forearms?

Yes, the movement is an excellent way to build forearms. They strengthen the biceps brachii, brachialis and the forearm extensors of the forearms and the brachioradialis.

What does the reverse curl work?

Reverse exercise works both the upper and lower arm muscles, including the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis.

The movement enhances grip strength, builds muscle, enhances strength, and provides a unique new stimulus for the upper body.

Are reverse curls worth doing?

Yes, they are worth the effort. They are effective and challenging and will improve your arm strength in unique ways. The pronated grip provides new stimulation and could lead to gains from either progressive overload or entirely new mechanical stress.


  1. Mistry PN, Rajguru J, Dave MR. An anatomical insight into the morphology of the brachialis muscle and its clinical implicationsIntern J Anatomy Radiol Surg. 2021;10(2):AO16-AO20.
  2. Kleiber T, Kunz L, Disselhorst-Klug C. Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect to hand position. Front Physiol. 2015;6:215. doi:10.3389/fphys.2015.00215
  3. Marcolin G, Panizzolo F, Petrone N, et al. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. 2018;6:e5165. doi:10.7717/peerj.5165

Leave a Comment