Dumbbell Curl and Press (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

One of my personal favorite exercises, the curl and press is an awesome exercise that works the biceps in the curl and the shoulders in the press.

This is a great option for lifters to get an awesome pump at the end of an upper-body session.

In this guide, I will go over how to curl and press, coaching points, and muscles worked.

How To Do Dumbbell Curl And Presses

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Grab dumbbells that you can perform at least 8 perfect reps with here.
  • Standing nice and tall, hammer curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height.
  • From here, press the dumbbells straight up overhead to lockout.
  • Slowly bring the dumbbells back and down to shoulder height.
  • From here, slowly return the dumbbells to your side.

Coaching Points

Go slow! Time under tension is key here. Feel the burn, especially on the way back down.

It’s easy to get out of control and begin swinging dumbbells all over the place with Curl and Presses. Stay in control of the weight throughout.

How Many Reps?

Dumbbell Curl and Press is an upper-body supplemental strength exercise that is a great movement to build hypertrophy. Recommended rep range is 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps.

Muscles Worked

  • Biceps (Concentrically curling and eccentrically resisting elbow extension)
  • Anterior Delts (Concentrically pressing overhead)
  • Medial and Rear Delts (Eccentric and isometric stabilizers)
  • Triceps (Lockout)

Curl and Press Variations

Don’t have the equipment needed or have a limiting injury? Here are a few variations that you may be able to try.

Barbell Curl and Press

Think just because you don’t have dumbbells that you can’t Curl and Press? No sir!

Grab a barbell with a supinated grip (palms facing up). Curl the bar to the shoulders and then press straight up.

Overhead pressing with an underhand grip may feel a little awkward at first but it’s actually pretty smooth once you get the hang of it. The bar won’t necessarily lock out over the ears like a regular Front Press. Just press the bar as high as you can while maintaining good form and posture.

Single Arm Curl and Press

If you have a limitation on one arm (hand, wrist, shoulder) then you may be able to try Single Arm Curl and Press. Same technique as with two arms – only use one arm instead. If you are working around an injury, make sure to get clearance from your Doctor or Athletic Trainer before proceeding.

Seated Curl and Press

The name is pretty self-explanatory here. Curl and Press from a seated position instead of standing. A potential great alternative for anyone who may be limited from standing.

More Info and Links

Looking for some more great exercises to increase your upper body strength? Head over to our exercise library to find step-by-step exercises to help you get stronger. All for free.


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