How To Do Barbell Curl Drop Sets

Barbell Curl Drop Sets (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Barbell Curl Drop Sets are a great exercise to incorporate some variety into your biceps training and a nice little shock to the system. They involve doing back to back sets of curls, starting with a moderate weight and then lowering the weight each subsequent set.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Barbell Drop Sets, including important coaching tips. I’ll also explain the muscles worked, benefits and provide a few alternatives in case you may need them.

How To Do Barbell Curl Drop Sets

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell (EZ Curl Bar will work great too)
  • Weight Plates

Muscles Worked

  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Forearm Flexors

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Place two plates on each side of a barbell*.
  • Grab the bar with an underhand grip, stand tall with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Curl the bar ten times, set it down in the rack and then quickly remove one plate** from each side of the bar.
  • As soon as the bar is set, immediately continue to do 10 more barbell curls.
  • Quickly remove the second plate from each side of the bar.
  • Finish with ten more barbell curls.

Coaching Points

*First off, if you don’t have a barbell, the same concept can also be applied to dumbbells as well. Start with a moderate weight of dumbbell, then lower down to lighter dumbbells for sets two and then three.

Ideally, plates should be equal so you get the same drop in weight each set, but this can be varied.

**If you have a partner, or partners, have them quickly take the weight off the bar when you set it down. Obviously, if you’re lifting solo this becomes your job as well.


Barbell Drop Sets are the ultimate in muscle recruitment. The first set of ten should push you to near muscular exhaustion. Then, by lowering the weight down (along with the quick break), it allows you to be able to do more reps for the following sets.

This allows the body to continue to try to recruit more muscle fibers to engage and help with the movement. This process is what makes Barbell Drop Sets such a good tool for building hypertrophy.

They also happen to be great for adding variety to a workout. Workouts can get stale and boring if you allow them to, and occasionally throwing in a drop set can add some much-needed excitement back into your lifts.

Barbell Curl Drop Set Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to Barbell Curl Drop Sets? Here are a few exercises you may be able to use as a substitution.


21s is a similar biceps curl movement that involves partial movements and a ton of time under tension.

Use a barbell (or EZ curl bar) in place of dumbbells and start by curling halfway up 7 times. Now bring the bar to the shoulders and lower it halfway down 7 times. Finally, perform 7 full reps – all the way up and down.

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Seated Dumbbell Curl
Turn a Hammer Curl into a Regular Curl by simply turning the palm up as you curl.

Want something a little more… simple?

Ditch all the crazy partial reps and drop sets, sit down and do Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls.

Sit at the edge of a bench and curl one arm at a time. By focusing on one arm at a time and because of the decreased overall time and tension, you’ll be able to use more weight and focus more on building pure strength.

More Links and Info

Want more biceps and triceps exercises? Check out the Arm Farm section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of movements, all with complete detailed instructions.

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