How To Do Dumbbell Curls

Dumbbell Curls (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Dumbbell Curls are a great finisher at the end of a tough workout. Of course, almost any biceps exercise is a great finisher at the end of a workout.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Dumbbell Curls including important coaching tips, muscles worked and a few alternatives in case you need them.

How To Do Dumbbell Curls

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells


  • Start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand and stand tall with good posture.
  • You can start with palms facing forward or facing in toward the body.
  • Now, curl both dumbbells up to shoulder level by flexing the biceps hard. Palms should finish up, facing the shoulder.
  • Squeeze the biceps at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with Dumbbell Curls is swinging the dumbbells at the bottom of the rep. Lower the weights down under control and do not swing them at the bottom.

The other mistake I see usually comes when an athlete is trying to use too much weight. Instead of keeping the elbow, they allow the elbow to drift back which turns the movement into more of a row than a curl.


Some potential benefits of performing dumbbell curls include:

  • Increased upper arm strength and size
  • Improved grip strength
  • Enhanced athletic performance in activities that require upper body strength

Additionally, dumbbell curls allow for a greater range of motion and variation compared to other upper arm exercises, such as the barbell curl. This makes dumbbell curls a valuable addition to any workout routine.

How Many Reps?

Dumbbell Curls are a supplemental strength exercise that also plays a big role in developing hypertrophy. Recommended rep range is 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Muscles Worked

Biceps Muscle 3D Body

Dumbbell Curls work the biceps of the upper arms and slightly work the front delt and forearms.

More specifically, Dumbbell Curls involve the Biceps Brachii, Brachialis and Brachioradialis and to a lesser extent the anterior part of the Deltoideus.

Dumbbell Curl Variations

Looking to shake up your workout a bit? Here are a couple of Dumbbell Curl variations.

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Hammer Curls

Dumbbell Hammer Curls are a simple, but effective Dumbbell Curl variation.

Instead of turning the palms up, keep the palms turned in for the entire movement. Hammer Curls focus on the Brachioradialis more than any other biceps exercise.

Seated Dumbbell Curls

Another variation for Dumbbell Curls is to take a seat. Doing Seated Dumbbell Curls will help fight against the urge to want to swing and use momentum to curl the weight up. (Will only help, not completely eliminate the ability)

Dumbbell Curls Alternatives

If you can’t do Dumbbell Curls, for whatever reason, here are a couple of alternatives you may be able to use as a replacement.

Barbell Curl

Barbell Curl

If you don’t have dumbbells, don’t worry, Barbell Curls are a perfect (some would even say better) alternative to their dumbbell cousin.

Stand tall, grip the bar shoulder-width apart, keep elbows tucked and curl the bar up to shoulder level. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Band Curls

If Dumbbell Curls bother your wrist or elbow, you may be able to give Band Curls a try. Stand on one end of a resistance band and grab the other end with both hands.

With Band Curls, you can use more of a neutral grip by keeping your palms facing each other. Sometimes this type of grip (also similar to the grip used in hammer curls) can be less stressful on the wrist and/or elbow.

More Links and Info

Looking for more Biceps and Triceps exercises to help you ‘fill the sleeves’? Check out the Arm Farm section of the Exercise Library.

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