Barbell and EZ-Bar Curls

Technique Summary

Stand with legs at shoulder length. Hold the barbell with an underhand grip at shoulder width. Hold your arms close to your body. Lift the bar by flexing your biceps. Exhale as you lift the weight, inhale as you lower it.

Exercise Type: Isolation
Primary Muscle: Biceps Brachii

Technique Details

Barbell Curl is one of the most commonly used isolation exercises for biceps. This exercise is for your biceps, so avoid involving any other muscle group. This means don’t cheat by pulling your shoulders up, jerking your body, or swinging the weight. The movement should be isolated to your elbow. Focus on a deliberate contraction and a full range of motion. Completely lower the weight without locking out your elbows and bring the weight all the way up for a peak contraction. Never let the barbell rest on your legs. You should feel pressure on your biceps throughout the entire set.


Note that as a supplement to the movement described above, you could slightly raise your elbows at the top of the contraction for a better peak. Rule of thumb, if you feel your biceps relax, you are doing it wrong. If you feel a contraction anywhere but your biceps, you are doing it wrong.

You need to establish a good base to maintain good form. Depending on what you feel most comfortable with, place your feet either at shoulder length, slightly narrower, or wider. Keeping your knees slightly bent could absorb any balance adjustments required when lifting the weight (eliminating the need to rock your torso back and forth to keep balance). Do not push from your feet to help yourself lift if you decide to introduce a slight bend in your knees.You need to establish a block with your torso by keeping your shoulders back and back straight (you could use a wall to help you establish that straight line).

Depending on your bone structure, you may need to adjust between a wide or narrow grip. Stand in front of a mirror with your hands extended at your sides, palms facing forward. If you find that there is a big angle at your elbow (arm elbow down leaning away from your torso), then you should consider not using a flat bar at all as it will lead to unnecessary tension at your wrist. Overall, using the EZ Curl Bar reduces the pressure on your wrist.

The width of your grip changes the focus of the barbell curl. Holding a narrow grip emphasizes the long head of the biceps (the outer head). Holding a wide grip emphasizes the short head of the biceps (the inner head). Using the flat bar involves more of the short head (inner) of the biceps versus the EZ Curl Bar which involves the long head (outer).