Standing Barbell Curls - The Best Biceps Muscle Builder

"Barbell curl done with a standard Olympic bar is the best way to train most of the bicep in the least amount of time".

-Mark Rippetoe author of Starting Strength.

Why are Barbell Curls for Biceps such an effective exercise

Barbell curls are the grand-daddy of all biceps exercises and the most popular Bicep exercise for good reason.

Its the best exercise {I still prefer chin ups} to build overall size of biceps. But remember Correct form is very important to ensure maximum results.

It is a first choice for all bodybuilders to build bigger, muscular arms and should be your as well.

Barbell Curl is not a single exercise. There are many variations targeting various parts of the biceps in different order of priority.

Purpose -- To Build Overall Muscle Mass in the biceps.

Always start your bicep workout with heavy barbell curls {after warm ups}.

They work on the mid-range of biceps contraction unlike preacher curls which work on the first third and concentration curls which work more on the last third phases of contraction

Execution Technique - How to do barbell curl with correct form

This exercise is performed using a medium sized barbell loaded with weights.

How to grip the barbell

The best is to position your hands shoulder width apart. A closer grip primarily targets the outer head of the biceps {long head}.

A wider grip targets the short head of biceps.


1. Grab the bar with an underhand grip with your hands shoulder width apart for maximum benefit.

Keep the arms fully extended at the start position at the bottom. This activates the pre-stretch reflex which helps biceps contract harder at the top of the movement.

2. Curl the bar up and as high as possible keeping the elbows stationary.

3. Feel a good bicep contraction at the top and extend your arms to get back to starting position.


Points to remember

  • Remember exert while you exert. Breathe out at the top of the movement.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Bending forward and leaning forward cuts the range of motion. This cheating move works hard on your shoulder muscles and may even damage joints.
  • Barbell curls or arm curls are not strictly biceps isolation exercise as other arm muscles namely brachialis and brachioradialis are also invloved.
Barbell Curls variations


1. Close grip barbell curls

The close or narrow grip biceps curls targets the long head {outside head} of the biceps muscle.

2. Wide grip barbell curls

The wide grip biceps curls targets the short head {inside head} of the biceps muscle

3. Reverse grip barbell curls

In this version grip the bar with an overhand grip and perform the curls. Effective for forearm muscles too.

3. E-Z Bar Biceps curls

Since biceps helps in supination movement too, the E-Z curls is less effective exercise for biceps, but it is easier on the wrist joints.

How not to cheat in barbell curls

A cool way to avoid the swinging/cheating movement for isolating the biceps is using a power rack. It will help you strict honest by not allowing the swinging action when you start curling the bar.

I repeat, Barbell curls should be a part of all bicep workouts. You can vary the widths but do not replace the exercise.

Just to it.


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