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Standing Barbell Curls - Muscles Worked & Benefits

Exercise Type: Single-Joint
Primary Muscles Worked: Biceps

The most basic and popular of all bicep exercises, the Standing Barbell Curl is an excellent way to develop the overall size of the biceps. A small amount of movement to increase momentum is acceptable because this exercise is a mass-building movement. However, keep this to a minimum unless you are deliberately doing Cheat Curls. To build the most thickness in the biceps, curl the bar with your hands at shoulder-width apart.

Standing Barbell Curls - Exercise Workout & Technique

  • Place the loaded barbell in front of you.
  • Position your feet so that they are about shoulder-width apart, and your knees are not locked out.
  • Anchor your body weight to the floor at the heels.
  • Place your hands on the barbell so that your palms face you, spaced apart at shoulder width.
  • To start with, let the weight hang down, with your posture upright, chest slightly out and your shoulder blades drawn together.
  • Position your elbows under the shoulders with a slight bend in them and close to your sides.
  • Exhale and bring the barbell up towards your shoulders so that you feel the biceps working.
  • Try not to let your body swing during this process, as this would be cheating.
  • Hold and contract the biceps at the top. Pause.
  • Now inhale and let the barbell return to the starting position with the arms extended down.
  • Repeat the exercise for the desired repetition range.

Standing Barbell Curls - Tips & Safety

  • Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout each rep.
  • Try and maintain the specified posture throughout, without allowing the body to sway.
  • Leaning slightly forward makes the initial phase of the curl easier. Leaning slightly backwards helps complete the final phase of the rep.
  • Excess momentum will shift the focus away from the biceps and recruit other accessory muscles - so avoid this.

Standing Barbell Curls - Alternatives

  • Try various hand placements on the bar to target different areas of the biceps. A wider grip will target the inner biceps while a narrow grip will target the outer biceps.
  • Using an E-Z Bar changes the grip of the Standing Barbell Curl. Curling the bar with a neutral grip (palms facing in) allows you to emphasise the outer biceps while at the same time putting less strain on the wrists.
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