Spider Curls: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate & Tip

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

Why are spider curls so vital? The spider curl is one of the most effective bicep that mainly targets the short head of the biceps.

The spider curl is essentially a chest-supported curl, so we’re working to isolate the biceps as much as possible.

In this article, we are going to explain:

What Are Spider Curls?

Spider curls are a bicep isolation exercise that you perform on an incline bench. The easiest way to do them is with dumbbells; however, you can also use any other equipment such as EZ-Bar, barbell and dumbbells.

Spider curls are a type of bicep curl that works the short head bicep muscle. During this exercise, your chest is against a bench that prevents you from cheating or using other muscles, such as your back and shoulders.

There are different ways to do a spider curl to build a bigger and stronger bicep.

  • Barbell spider curl: Allows heavier load but less range of motion. Challenges stability.
  • EZ bar spider curl: It helps to reduce stress on the wrists. Good option for people with wrist pain.
  • Dumbbell spider curl: Allows greater range of motion. Each arm works independently.
  • Reverse grip spider curl: Palms down to target brachioradialis.
  • One arm dumbbell spider curl: It is a great way to balance muscle and strength development.
  • Spider hammer curl: The neutral grip is also effective to train forearm.
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How To Do Spider Curl

  1. Lie face down on an incline bench set to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Hold a weight (dumbbell or barbell) with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  3. Allow your arms to hang straight down from the bench with your elbows slightly bent.
  4. Slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, while keeping your chest pressed against the pad.
  5. Once you’re up at the very top, squeeze your biceps hard and hold for a second or two
  6. Then slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.
  7. Do 8-10 repetitions and 3–4 sets.
How To Do Spider Curl

Muscle Worked During Spider Curl

The spider curl primarily targets the biceps muscles, specifically the short head biceps.

In addition to its target, the bicep. The spider 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:

Muscle Worked During Spider Curl

Know How Spider Curl Target The Biceps Muscles

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

The long head constitutes the majority of your biceps peak, while the short head sits on the inner side, which adds thickness.

  • Using a regular grip during curl, will place approximately equal emphasis on both heads.
  • Curling with your elbows back behind you will emphasize the long head and build the peak of your biceps.
  • And curling with your elbows in front of your body will emphasize the short head and give your biceps more width.
bicep anatomy

1. Dumbbell Spider Curl

Dumbbell Spider curls are a remarkable exercise for building the biceps because they produce an intense muscle contraction on every single rep.

This is a great exercise to switch things up and keep your biceps guessing with new stress, especially the short head, which will take on the majority of the work.

If you have one arm that’s weaker than the other, the dumbbell spider curl could be a better choice. This way, you can isolate the weaker arm to strengthen the bicep muscle to create symmetry.

Once you’ve mastered the dumbbell spider curl, consider using a different kind of free weight, like a barbell or an EZ bar with angled grips. With practice, spider curls can be a useful biceps workout to add to your arm workout routine.

Spider Curl

How To Do Dumbbell Spider Curl

  1. Adjust the bench to an incline, level to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Grab two moderately light dumbbells in each arm.
  3. Lie on the bench in a reverse position with your chest pressed onto the backrest. Let your arms hang in front of your torso.
  4. Your legs should be long with a slight bend in your knees. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet.
  5. The chin should remain tucked throughout the movement. Engage your core.
  6. Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders and squeeze your biceps forcefully.
  7. Hold the contraction for a moment, and then lower the weights under control until your elbows are fully extended.

2. Barbell Spider Curl

The barbell spider curl lets you lift heavier weights than you could with dumbbells, which helps you build bigger arms. Barbells require a stronger grip than dumbbells, which will further improve your grip strength.

Barbell spider curls train your biceps in a shortened (which is to say a maximally contracted) muscle position. This results in a powerful muscle pump that leads to significant hypertrophy.

Note: The barbell can be harder on your wrists than dumbbells, which can be a problem for people with wrist pain.

Barbell spider curl

How To Do Barbell Spider Curl

  1. Adjust the bench to an incline, level to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Lean against the bench so that your chest is supported.
  3. Stand on the balls of your feet and keep them about shoulder width apart for stability.
  4. The chin should remain tucked throughout the movement. Engage your core.
  5. Let your arms hang in front of your torso. From here, have a barbell ready, or have it set-up in front of you.
  6. Slowly curl the barbell toward your shoulders and squeeze your biceps forcefully.
  7. Hold the contraction for a moment, and then slowly lower the bar under control until your elbows are fully extended.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. EZ Bar Spider Curl

The EZ bar’s angled grip puts less stress on the wrists compared to a straight barbell. It reduces the risk of discomfort or strain in the wrist during exercise. It also allows different hand positions (wide, narrow, reverse) to shift emphasis to different parts of the biceps.

The incline angle and the supported chest help to isolate the biceps and limit the involvement of the shoulder muscles.

This curl variation is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 8-12 reps per set or more.

EZ Bar Spider Curl

How To Do EZ Bar Spider Curl

  1. Adjust the bench to an incline, level to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Lean against the bench so that your chest is supported.
  3. Make sure that your feet (especially the toes) are well positioned on the floor.
  4. Use your arms to grab the EZ bar with a supinated grip (palms facing up) at about shoulder width apart or slightly closer to others.
  5. Let your arms hang in front of your torso. From here, have an EZ ready, or have it set-up in front of you.
  6. Slowly curl the EZ bar toward your shoulders and squeeze your biceps forcefully.
  7. Hold the contracted position for as a second as you squeeze the biceps.
  8. Slowly begin to bring the barbell back to the starting position.

Spider Curl Form and Tips

It is difficult to cheat during the spider curl, since you are working against gravity on the bench press. However, this does not rule out the possibility that you are making some errors.

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.
  • The ideal bench angle for spider curls is between 45 and 60 degrees.
  • Don’t underestimate the pause at the top of your curl, and take a moment to squeeze your bicep when you get there.
  • 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.

Other Best Ways To Do Dumbbell Spider Curls

There are many variations of spider curl that you can do with dumbbells. The Dumbbell Spider Curl can be done in different ways to suit your fitness level.

  • If you are new to performing dumbbell spider 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 weight
  • Another option is to do spider curl with a single dumbbell.
  • If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the bicep, then try dumbbell reverse spider Curl and heavier weight.

1. Dumbbell Reverse Spider Curl

Dumbbell Reverse spider curl is a variation of the spider curl where the dumbbell is gripped palm’s down. The motion is the same, but the change in grip allows for specific arm muscles to be targeted.

The reverse grip places a significant emphasis on the brachioradialis muscle. Strengthening this muscle improves forearm strength and stability, which in turn improves grip strength and pulling movements.

Dumbbell Reverse Spider Curl.

2. Two Hand Dumbbell Standing Spider Curl

Standing spider curl unilaterally works the biceps muscles at the front of the upper arm and the lower arm’s muscles, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

And because you’re lifting a single dumbbell with both hands, you can lift heavier, which is great for building bigger biceps.

Doing the standing arm curl, you build strength in the upper arm and learn to use your arm muscles correctly, bracing with your core muscles.

Dumbbell Standing Single Arm Spider Curl.

3. One Arm Dumbbell Spider Curl

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

We love unilateral movements because they make you stronger and help you identify any muscle imbalances. But you cannot fix what you do not know exists, which makes unilateral exercises crucial for achieving evenly developed muscles.

One Arm Dumbbell Spider Curl

4. Spider Dumbbell Hammer Curl

If you love hammer curls, then the neutral grip dumbbell spider curl may be the variation for you.

We’ve spoken about a few different spider curl variations that either focus on the biceps or isolate the brachialis and brachioradialis.

But the neutral grip variation forces all three muscles to work simultaneously, so you can get a little extra boost out of this exercise.

Dumbbell Prone Incline Hammer Curl.

Set, Reps And Frequency For Spider 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.

Here are some general guidelines for the spider curl exercise, including sets, reps, and frequency, in order to build muscle mass


If you’re new to spider 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 barbell curl workouts.

4-58-152-3 times per week

Add Dumbbell Spider Curl Into Your Workout Routine

The barbell 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 the dumbbell 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

Barbell Curl3-48-12
Hammer Curl310-12
Preacher Curl38-10
Concentration Curl48-12
Spider Curl38-12

2. Pull Workout Routine

Lat Pulldowns310-12
Dumbbell Spider Curl38-12
Dumbbell Shrugs38-12

3. Full Body Workout Routine

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

What Are The Benefits Of Spider Curls?

Apart from the obvious advantage of thicker-looking biceps, Spider curls are a great way to increase general upper-body strength. This makes it a brilliant choice of exercise to train for other weightlifting exercises.

Following are some benefits of the spider curl exercise:

  • Lifters who do the same exercises over and over will reach a plateau and cannot seem to get their biceps any bigger. If this describes you, then spider curl may provide greater results.
  • As you perform the exercise with dumbbells, you correct whatever strength imbalances you may have in one bicep against the other.
  • The main advantage of executing incline prone curls is that having your arms stretched. This causes more metabolic stress, which in turn leads to an increase in the size of the biceps. 
  • It provides a broader range of motion, thus, increasing movement efficiency, injury avoidance, and a greater possibility of strength as well as size growth. 
  • While there is a lot of emphasis on building the bicep peak through workouts that focus on the long head, using exercises that exercise the short head like the spider curl will give the arm a more symmetrical look.
  • The Spider curl provides a broader range of motion, thus, increasing movement efficiency.
  • The Spider Curls add freshness to your bicep workout and will help to fill up the biceps and increase muscular growth.

Best Alternate of Spider Curls

No one wants to repeat the same exercises twice a week for several months. Variety will ensure that your muscles are worked evenly, while preventing you from getting bored with your current gym routine.

1. Preacher curl

The preacher curl is the best exercise to build a short head of biceps. The preacher curl offers many of the same benefits as the spider curl, but it emphasizes the eccentric portion of the exercise.

You can get fullness in this crucial area by giving your arms a complete look. If you have a long tendon, then the preacher curl is the best exercise to build a longer biceps lower head and get a full biceps pump.

This exercise is done by sitting on a Preacher bench with a Barbell or E-Z curl Bar.

Preacher curl

2. Standing Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The standing dumbbell preacher curl is an isolation exercise that targets the biceps, but the forearms, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles receive stimulation as secondary movers.

Like the spider curl, the preacher curl also works the short head of the biceps. You could even alternate between the two movements for variety and different contractions.

It is usually performed by using an incline bench and a dumbbell.

Standing Dumbbell Preacher Curl

3. Standing Inner Biceps Curl

Working inner biceps with dumbbells has several advantages.

There are many possible variations for this movement. For instance, you can perform the exercise sitting down on a bench with or without back support.

You can (and should) turn your hands from the position when palms are facing each other to the position when palms are facing upwards.

This movement also develops the biceps along with the elbow contraction.

Standing Inner Biceps Curl

4. Cable Hammer Curl

The cable hammer curl is an arm exercise that targets the brachialis, biceps, and brachioradialis muscles.

It is performed using a cable machine, which provides constant tension throughout the movement, leading to increased muscle activation and strength development.

Spider Curls vs Preacher Curls

Which is better for biceps, spider curls or preacher curls? Which is better for forearms?

Preacher curls are another variation of a traditional biceps curl and shares various similarities with the spider curl.

Both exercises target the biceps short head and allow for a greater range of motion than traditional biceps curls, requiring lighter weights.

Both preacher and spider curls use a bench to support parts of your body. This is to put your working arm muscles under greater stress.

During preacher curls, the backs of your upper arms are supported, whereas during spider curls, the front of your upper body is supported by an incline bench and hands are in head hang and vertical position.

Because of the hand position, spider curls are most challenging at the highest point of the exercise (the concentric), but preacher curls are hardest at the lowest point (the eccentric).

Both exercises allow for more joint movement than standard bicep curls; however, when comparing the two, the spider curl offers a larger range of motion than the preacher curl.

Frequently Asked Question

What are spider curls good for?

Spider curls primarily target the short head of the biceps brachii.  Spider curls not only target your biceps, but your forearm flexors as well, as they are crucial to completing this movement.

Are spider curls better than regular curls?

Spider curls are an excellent variation to the traditional bicep curl. It gives full range of motion, which is vital to build more muscle and strength.

Which head spider curls target?

Spider curls primarily target the short head of the biceps brachii. It also targets the long head of the biceps, brachialis, and forearm muscles, to a lesser extent.

What degree should I do spider curls?

The best angle for spider curls is between 45 and 60 degrees.

How much weight can a spider curl?

It is advisable to start with light weights as compared to traditional bicep curls and focus on foam and muscle contraction.

Why are spider curls so hard?

Spider curls are a safe and challenging way to target your biceps. Since you are setting up with your chest supported on the incline bench, there is a very low chance of cheating.

Spider Curls are very difficult because of the downward pull of gravity and the dead hang and vertical position of both arms.

Are spider curls effective?

Spider curls are one of the most effective exercises for building bigger biceps. It really hits the short head of the biceps throughout the entire range of motion, especially at the top.


The spider curls are an excellent isolation exercise that targets the biceps’ short head.

simple grip modification brings the long head into play, turning this into a full-body bicep exercise.

Spider curls are easy to incorporate into your existing workout routine, using the equipment you likely already have in your gym.

If you’re going to include the spider curl in your arm day, save it for the end. Additionally, if your bicep muscles aren’t even, use dumbbells. On the other hand, if you already have arm symmetry, use the barbell.


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  • Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl

How to Do Spider Curls To Build Bigger Biceps

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