Zottman Curl: Muscle Worked, How To Do and Form

Do you dream of having sleeve-busting arms that turn heads wherever you go? The Zottman curl is the secret weapon for building big biceps and forearms.

Many people focus solely on traditional bicep exercises, such as the barbell curl, but the zottman curl offers a unique and highly effective way to target your biceps from a different angle.

If you’re not already doing zottman dumbbell curls, you’re missing out on some serious gains.

But what sets Zottman curls apart from other bicep curl variations? Zottman curls work not only the bicep muscles, but also the forearm muscles that are often overlooked when doing regular bicep curls. This can help you build bigger, stronger biceps.

Here, we’ll talk about the following topics:

  • What is Zottman Dumbbell Curl
  • Zottman Curl Muscle Worked
  • How To Do It
  • Tips For Proper Form
  • Sets and Reps
  • Best Variations
  • Best Alternates
  • Its Benefits

What is a Zottman Curl?

The Dumbbell Zottman Curl is one of the best variations of the standard bicep curl. The Zottman curl is a highly effective exercise that targets your biceps and forearms.

This unique movement is named after George Zottman, a professional strongman from the early 1900s.

While the traditional bicep curl focuses on the contraction phase of the exercise, the Zottman curl involves both the contraction and eccentric phases, making it a full-range of motion exercise that provides maximum muscle activation.

Different hand positions on different parts of the lift.

  • The first upward portion: the regular curl, focuses on bicep strength.
  • The second lowering portion: the dumbbell reverse curl allows you to overload the forearms.

There are different ways to do a Zottman Curl to build a bigger and stronger bicep.

  • Alternating Zottman Curl
  • Incline Zottman Curl
  • Preacher Zottman Curl
  • Spider Zottman Curl

Zottman Curl Muscle Worked

The Zottman curl, a compound exercise that primarily works the biceps brachii, and forearm flexors muscles.

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your Brachialis, Brachioradialis and forearm extensor muscles.

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

Know how muscles work during the Zottman curl:

  • Biceps brachii: It is worked during both the supinated and pronated phases.
  • Brachialis: It is responsible for flexing the elbow and is worked during the pronated phase.
  • Brachioradialis: It is responsible for supination and pronation of the forearm, and is worked during both the supinated and pronated phases.
  • Forearms: The Zottman curl also works the muscles of the forearms, including the wrist flexors and extensors.
Zottman Curl Muscle Worked

How To Do Zottman Curl

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  3. Curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  4. Pause at the top of the movement.
  5. Then slowly rotate your grip so your palms are facing downwards.
  6. Now lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position using an overhand grip.
  7. When the dumbbells are close to your thighs, again turn your hands while returning to the starting position.
  8. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
zottman curl gif

Zottman Curl Proper Form and Technique

  • Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.
  • 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, 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.
  • Make sure to rotate your forearms fully from supinated to pronated at the top of the movement.
  • 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 Zottman 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.
  • To build Muscle Endurance, do 15-20+ reps per set.

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


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

  • Sets: Start with 2-3 sets per workout.
  • Reps: Perform 8-12 reps per set.
  • Frequency: 1-2 times per week.


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

  • Sets: Increase to 3-4 sets per workout
  • Reps: Aim for 8-12 reps per set with a slightly heavier weight compared to the beginner level.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week.


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

  • Sets: Perform 4-5 sets per workout
  • Reps: Aim for 8-15 reps.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week, allowing a day of rest between sessions.

Add Zottman Curl into Your Workout Routine

The Zottman curl 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 traditional bicep curl and hammer curl.
  3. As part of a full-body workout: Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps of zottman curl along with other compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Other Ways To Do Zottman Dumbbell Curl (Variations)

There are many different ways to do zottman dumbbell curls to keep your workout routine fresh and challenge your muscles in different ways. Here are a few popular variations you can try:

1. Incline Zottman Curl

The incline Zottman curl engages multiple muscles in the upper arm, including the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. This leads to a more comprehensive and balanced development of the entire arm.

It targets different regions of the arm by using both supinated and pronated grips.

  • During the concentric phase, a supinated grip works the bicep and brachialis muscles.
  • During the eccentric phase, the pronated grip places additional emphasis on the brachioradialis and forearm muscles. It improved the forearm size and grip strength.
Incline Zottman Curl

How To Do Incline Zottman Curl

  1. Set an incline bench to a comfortable angle, typically around 45 degrees.
  2. Sit on the bench with your back resting against it and your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (palms facing up) and dumbbells hanging by your sides.
  4. Exhale and curl the dumbbells toward your shoulder.
  5. Keep curling until the dumbbells are close to your shoulders.
  6. At the top of the movement, pause briefly, and then rotate your wrists, pronating your grip (palms facing down).
  7. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  8. Once the dumbbells are fully lowered, rotate your wrists back into a supinated grip to begin the next repetition.
  9. Repeat the desired number of reps.
Know More: Incline Dumbbell Curl: Muscle Worked, How To Do & Form

2. Spider Zottman Curl

The dumbbell spider zottman curls are a remarkable exercise for building the biceps and forearms because they produce an intense muscle contraction on every single rep.

This is a good way to try something new and make your arms work hard. It’s especially good for your short head of bicep and forearm muscles, which will do most of the work.

Spider Zottman Curl

How To Do Dumbbell Spider Zottman Curl

  1. Adjust the bench to an incline, level to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Grab two moderately light dumbbells with an underhand grip.
  3. Lie on the bench in a reverse position with your chest pressed onto the backrest.
  4. Your legs should be long with a slight bend in your knees.
  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. Once the dumbbells are at shoulder height, rotate your forearms so that your palms are facing down.
  8. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  9. That’s one repetition.
Know More: Spider Curls: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate & Tip

3. Preacher Zottman Curl

The Preacher Zottman curl works the biceps brachii muscles better than standing variations.

If you rest your arms on the preacher curl bench, you minimize the involvement of other muscle groups, such as the deltoids or upper back. This allows for a more focused and intense contraction of the biceps.

It also emphasizes the forearm muscles, including the brachioradialis and wrist flexors. This can enhance the strength, stability, and size of your forearm.

Preacher Zottman Curl

How To Do Preacher Zottman Curl

  1. Adjust the preacher bench so that your elbows are slightly above the level of your shoulders.
  2. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with a supine grip (palms facing upward) and sit on the preacher curl bench.
  3. Keep your upper arms against the pad and maintain a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
  5. Once you reach the top of the curl, rotate your forearms so your palms face away from your body (pronated grip).
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  7. That’s one repetition.
Related Post: Preacher Curl: How To Do It Correctly And Best Variation

4. Seated Zottman Curl

The seated position provides stability and support and allows for better isolation of the biceps and forearms muscles.

Having a seated position reduces the reliance on momentum or swinging. It also ensures proper form and controlled movement.

Seated Zottman Curl

5. Alternating Zottman Curl

The alternating Zottman curl involves curling one arm while the other arm is in the extended position. As you lower the weight with one arm, you simultaneously curl the weight with the other arm, alternating the movement between each arm.

It creates good mind muscle connection and also helps you fix any imbalances in strength or size between your left and right arms, encouraging arm growth.

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Zottman Curl Benefits

The benefits of Zottman curls include:

  1. Targeted bicep strength and size.
  2. Enhanced development of forearm muscles.
  3. Improved grip strength and wrist mobility.
  4. Increased brachialis muscle activation.
  5. Improved appearance and symmetry of the arms.
  6. Enhanced functional strength for daily activities and sports.
  7. Reduced risk of arm injuries through improved joint stability.
  8. Versatility and easy integration into workout routines.

Zottman Curl Alternates

  • Hammer curl
  • Preacher curl
  • Concentration curl
  • Reverse grip barbell curl
  • Cable curl
  • Incline dumbbell curl
  • Alternating dumbbell curl
  • Spider curl
  • Reverse curl

Hammer curl Vs. Zottman Curl

Zottman curls target both the biceps and forearms with a combination of grip positions, while hammer curls primarily focus on the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles with a neutral grip.

Zottman Curl

  • Targets the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles.
  • Involves a supine (palms up) grip during the concentric phase and a pronated (palms down) grip during the eccentric phase.
  • Engages the forearm muscles, particularly during the eccentric phase.
  • Provides comprehensive activation of both the biceps and forearms.
  • It can help address muscular imbalances between the biceps and forearms.
  • Enhances grip strength and forearm stability.

Hammer Curl

  • Primarily targets the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles.
  • Involves a neutral grip (palms facing each other) throughout the movement.
  • Places greater emphasis on the forearm muscles.
  • Engages the biceps to a lesser extent compared to Zottman curls.
  • Can contribute to forearm strength and stability.
  • Provides variation in muscle activation compared to traditional bicep curls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Zottman curl suitable for beginners?

Yes, the Zottman curl can be performed by beginners, provided they start with a light weight and focus on proper form and technique.

What does the Zottman Curl work?

The Zottman curl primarily works the biceps brachii (both long and short heads), brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles. Additionally, it engages the forearm muscles, including the wrist extensors, during the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement.

Are zottman curls good

Yes, Zottman curls are a good exercise to build a bigger and stronger arms. They work multiple muscle groups, including the biceps and forearms, which makes the arms stronger and more attractive.


The Zottman curl is a good exercise that works both the biceps and forearms. Its unique movement makes the muscles work really hard, so it’s a must-do exercise for anyone who wants to make their arms bigger and stronger.

If you follow the advice in this guide, you can do the Zottman curl correctly and get the most out of each exercise.


  1. Melrose, Don PhD, CSCS*D. Exercise Technique: The Zottman Curl. Strength and Conditioning Journal 36(1):p 92-93, February 2014. | DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e318297a092
  2. Barakat C, Barroso R, Alvarez M, Rauch J, Miller N, Bou-Sliman A, De Souza EO. The Effects of Varying Glenohumeral Joint Angle on Acute Volume Load, Muscle Activation, Swelling, and Echo-Intensity on the Biceps Brachii in Resistance-Trained Individuals. Sports (Basel). 2019 Sep 4;7(9):204. doi: 10.3390/sports7090204. PMID: 31487841; PMCID: PMC6783981.

How To Do Zottman Curl (3 Best Ways)

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