Barbell Curl


Barbell Curls are one of the best biceps exercises for building mass and strength. This is because you can use more weight with a barbell curl than most other curl variations. Increased resistance equals increased strength and increased size.

Here are instructions on how to do barbell curls, step-by-step, along with what muscles barbell curls work and a few alternatives if you’re unable to do them.

How To Do Barbell Curls

  • Stand tall, back straight, head up, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Hold barbell with both hands, palms up.
  • Start with bar at arms length against upper thighs.
  • Curl bar up until forearms touch biceps
  • Keep upper elbows close to side
  • Lower to starting position using the same path.
  • Do not swing.

Muscles Worked

Barbell Curls primarily work both heads of the Biceps Brachii – the long head and short head. The Brachialis is also very involved in Barbell Curls.

Barbell Curl Alternatives

If you’re unable to do barbell curls (or maybe you just want to change up your workout a bit), here are a few barbell curl alternatives.

DB Curls

If you don’t have a barbell, but you do have dumbbells – DB Curls are a great alternative to Barbell Curls. They can also a good choice if you can only work one arm due to a limitation and/or injury.

Band Curls

Band Curls are another good barbell curl alternative if you don’t have access to a barbell. If you have a resistance band, simply stand on the band and curl. One of the easiest exercises to pick up for a beginner.

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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